July 10, 2012 / 12:51 PM / 5 years ago

Malaysia's AMMB buys credit card firm for $196 mln

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 (Reuters) - Malaysian lender AMMB Holdings Bhd is buying credit card issuer MBF Holdings Bhd and its units Atox Cards and Jastura for 623.4 million ringgit ($195.52 million) cash.

The purchase, announced on Tuesday, comes three months after the country's fifth-largest bank said it was buying Kurnia Insurance Bhd with Insurance Australia Group Ltd for 1.55 billion ringgit.

"With greater than 45,000 merchants-in-force, this will clearly make AmBank the top three merchant acquirer in Malaysia," Ashok Ramamurthy, AMMB Group Managing Director said in a statement.

"We will have strengthened our rank at no. 6 with the combined cards in circulation," added Ramamurthy, who was appointed to his position on April 1.

The acquisition also includes MBF's 33.3 percent stake in Bonuskad Loyalty Sdn Bhd, which holds the 7 million-customer database of Malaysia's Bonuslink card loyalty scheme, according to Ramamurthy.

The deal is pending approval from the country's central bank and MBF's shareholders, said AMMB, which hopes to complete the deal before the end of this year.

AMMB closed 0.47 percent higher at 6.48 ringgit per share on Tuesday, while MBF ended 1 percent richer at 1.01 ringgit. The Malaysian benchmark stock index closed 0.25 percent higher. ($1 = 3.1885 Malaysian ringgits) (Reporting By Yantoultra Ngui; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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