Regions

Ten banks bid for Citigroup's Egyptian retail operations

January 14
2:07 AM 2015

Citigroup has received 10 bids for its consumer banking business in Egypt, three sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday, with banks from the United Arab Emirates prominent among potential purchasers.

Emirates NBD (ENBD) and Mashreq are among those bidding for the business put up for sale by the U.S. lender in October, two of the sources said.

A third source identified National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) as having bid for the operations.

The sources gave no indication of the size of the bids or other details surrounding the approaches.

Citi's net investment in Egypt was around $250 million at June 30, 2013, according to a report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In Egypt, Citigroup has eight branches in Cairo and one in Alexandria, serving over 100,000 retail customers, according to the bank's website.

Citi declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. ENBD, Mashreq, NBAD and ADIB also declined to comment.

The presence of numerous UAE banks among the bidding group underlines growing ties between the Gulf nation and Egypt. The UAE has backed Egypt with cash, oil products and political support since former general turned president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unseated Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power in July 2013.

The U.S. bank said in October that it was pulling out of consumer banking in 11 markets, including Egypt and Japan, as it tries to trim costs. Citi wants to complete sales in those markets by the end of 2015, it said at the time.

Several highly-liquid Gulf banks have sought to tap into the Egyptian banking sector as the Middle East and North Africa's largest consumer market begins to stabilize after two revolutions since 2011.

ENBD has already made a recent buy in Egypt, purchasing BNP Paribas' business for $500 million, while Qatar National Bank bought the Egyptian operations of Societe Generale. Both deals concluded in 2013.

Mashreq, which already has 10 branches in Egypt, is targeting the country and Turkey for acquisitions to expand beyond its crowded home market.

There was likely to be less interest from Qatari banks because of strained relations between Qatar and Egypt since Sisi took power or from Western banks, many of which have been reviewing their exposure in emerging markets, said one of the sources.

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