UPDATE 1-Pakistan government to sell United Bank stake for up to $423 million

Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:18am EDT

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(Recasts, adds context on government privatisation plan)

HONG KONG, June 10 (Reuters) - The government of Pakistan will sell its stake in United Bank Ltd for up to 42 billion rupees ($426.27 million) on Wednesday, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said, as the cash-strapped state seeks to raise funds by selling assets.

The United Bank deal forms part of an initiative announced earlier this year in which Privatisation Commission Chairman Mohammad Zubair was tasked with finding buyers for 68 companies, including 10 banks..

An official in the media department of the government declined to comment and referred Reuters to Zubair. Zubair did not immediately respond to telephone calls. The relevant officials at United Bank could not be reached for comment.

If successful, the United Bank sale would be the first divestment via the capital markets of a government stake in seven years.

The IMF saved Pakistan from possible default by agreeing last September to lend it $6.7 billion over three years, making the loan conditional on economic reforms such as a longstanding promise to privatise loss-making state companies.

Arif Habib, Credit Suisse and Elixir Securities will manage the United Bank deal, said IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication which first reported the deal on Tuesday. ($1 = 98.5300 Pakistani Rupees) (Reporting by S. Anuradha of IFR; and Lawrence White; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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