France’s BNP Paribas has been approached by Middle Eastern banks, including Qatar’s biggest lender by assets, regarding the possible sale of its Egyptian retail banking franchise, which consists of 67 branches, two people familiar with the matter said.
BNP Paribas, which is shedding assets to meet with Europe’s tougher banking regulations on capital reserves, is considering the bids that are still at an early stage, according to one person familiar with the issue.
“We have received some interest for our Egyptian activities,” the person said. “We examine and consider it but no decision has been made yet,” the person added.
BNPP would continue its corporate and investment banking operations in the country.
BNP Paribas in Egypt owns 67 branches. It made around €94mn in net profit in 2011. Among the lenders showing interest is QNB, the largest lender in Qatar, said the second person familiar with the matter, adding talks were at a very early stage.
“BNPP is looking to exit Egypt and QNB is interested in getting into Egypt,” the person added.
QNB recently decided not to acquire Turkish bank Denizbank over a disagreement on price, despite being in exclusive talks for several months. Russia’s Sberbank bought Denizbank, the Turkish arm of beleaguered Franco-Belgian lender Dexia SA, for $3.5bn last week.
The Qatari bank is keen to expand further in the Middle East. It recently increased its stake in Iraq’s Mansour Bank to 51% from 23% and also acquired stakes in a Libyan and Moroccan lender.
Should BNPP’s disposal of its Egyptian retail franchise go ahead, it will become the latest example of a Western bank offloading a foreign asset to beef up its capital reserves.
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