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Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Bank Audi denies media reports that it is planning Egypt exit

M&A WATCH- Bank Audi yesterday denied media reports that it is planning to exit Egypt as it continues to grapple with tumult in its home market of Lebanon. An official at the bank’s investor relations department told the local press that its Egypt arm is one of its best performing assets and that nobody at the company has floated the idea of an asset sale.

Al Arabiya reported yesterday that Bank Audi was looking to shop its Egyptian operations as part of a restructuring plan due to the ongoing economic crisis in Lebanon. The news outlet did not source its report.

Audi has already received several offers for its Egyptian arm, a separate report from Al Mal claims, citing sources it said were familiar with the matter. The report stressed that the offers remain proposals and that the bank had not made a final decision to exit the market. Audi has assets in Egypt of close to USD 3.9 bn, nearly 8.2% of the bank’s total, according to its latest annual financials.

Bank hasn’t sought CBE approval to exit: The Central Bank of Egypt said yesterday that Bank Audi had not sought approval to sell its Egypt business, Reuters reported.

Audi remains in the news as it still looks to close its stalled acquisition of the National Bank of Greece’s Egypt arm. Yesterday’s news came just a day after local press reports hinted that Bank Audi was moving closer to acquiring NBG. Banking sources told Al Mal that the Lebanese bank had begun calling the shots over NBG’s transactions with large clients. This seemed to indicate progress on the acquisition in spite of NBG’s employee pay dispute preventing the banks from securing CBE approval by the 2 November deadline.

Lebanon’s financial system has been on the brink since anti-government protests broke out last October. Fears that the banking sector faced imminent collapse in November led to the effective imposition of capital controls to prevent money fleeing the country.

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