* GFH eyes KCB merge with other Bahraini banks - statement
* GFH owns 47 pct of KCB (Adds detail, context)
DUBAI, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House (GFH) is studying options to merge its affiliate, Khaleeji Commercial Bank (KCB), with other Bahraini banks, it said on Wednesday.
GFH, which has undergone a number of debt restructurings since 2009, currently owns 47 percent of KCB, which would be worth around 23.3 million dinars ($61.8 million) at current market value.
“GFH is currently studying a number of options to merge Khaleeji Commercial Bank with other banks in Bahrain to create a bigger and stronger bank,” GFH said in a bourse filing in Dubai, where it is also listed.
It did not say which Bahraini banks it was considering as merger partners.
Gulf bank mergers are uncommon because main shareholders, often powerful local families, are reluctant to cede control and can demand exaggerated valuations.
However, Bahrain has seen some merger attempts in recent months as lenders react to the global financial crisis and the end of the real estate boom in the kingdom where many small banks are reliant on fees earned from managing property and land investments.
Earlier this month, Capivest, Elaf Bank and Capital Management House completed their three-way merging, creating a bank with total assets worth over $400 million.
Bahrain Islamic Bank and Al Salam Bank said in February 2012 that merger talks between the two to form Bahrain’s biggest Islamic bank by assets had collapsed because of disagreement on pricing.
In December, GFH Capital, a unit of GFH, bought English soccer club Leeds United. ($1 = 0.3770 Bahraini dinars) (Reporting by David French; Editing by Amran Abocar)