DUBAI: National Bank of Abu Dhabi would be keen to buy the Egyptian operations of French banks, its chief executive said, as Europeans look to divest businesses in the north African country due to pressures on capital from the eurozone crisis.
However, the United Arab Emirates’ largest lender by market value would only be interested if any deals met strict internal guidelines on acquisitions. The bank insists that assets are priced attractively, that it is able to secure a controlling stake and the operations are a strategic fit to its existing business.
“Yes, we would look at, opportunistically, using our capital to acquire, subject to the tests set out before,” Michael Tomalin, chief executive of NBAD, told a July 30 analysts’ call, according to a recording released by the bank Tuesday.
However, Tomalin, slated to retire as head of the bank later this year after 13 years in the role, cautioned NBAD already had a sizeable presence in Egypt and that it has traditionally eschewed acquisitions in favor of organic growth.
BNP Paribas is looking to raise around $400 million from the sale of its retail banking operations in Egypt as the lender, which has around 70 branches in the country, seeks to shore up its capital base and exit noncore operations, sources said in June.
Other European banks, such as Greece’s Piraeus Bank, are also trying to dispose of Egyptian operations because of the sovereign debt crisis back home.
NBAD, which opened its first offices in China and Malaysia this year, aims to expand into Lebanon and South Sudan by the end of 2012, having received the necessary regulatory approvals in both countries, Tomalin said.
Longer term, the bank is looking to start operations in India, Iraq and Brazil, he added.
Offering forecasts for 2013, Tomalin said NBAD could see high single-digit to low double-digit earnings growth next year, but much would depend on the global economy and the contagion from the eurozone crisis.