May 5, 2008 / 3:21 AM / 9 years ago

Maybank buys $680 mln stake in Pakistan MCB Bank

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's top lender, Malayan Banking (MBBM.KL), has bought a 15 percent stake in Pakistan's largest listed lender MCB Bank (MCB.KA) for $680 million, betting on a bright economic future despite recent political turbulence.

The deal is Maybank's third acquisition in two months after taking stakes in Bank Internasional Indonesia (BNII.JK) and Vietnam's An Binh Bank as it seeks higher-growth areas as its domestic market becomes more mature and competitive.

State-controlled Maybank, which has been criticised for being too slow to expand abroad, agreed at the weekend to buy the MCB Bank stake for 44.29 billion rupees, or 470 rupees per share -- an 11 percent premium to the stock's last traded price.

Its the largest-ever banking acquisition into Pakistan, according to Thomson Reuters. MCB had total assets of about 400 billion rupees ($6.14 billion) at the end of March.

Analysts said Maybank was having to pay a high price for being among the last to hit the overseas acquisition trail.

"(Maybank) paid a decent price considering the banking sector is under pressure worldwide," said Mohammed Sohail, Director of equity broking at JS Global Capital Ltd.

Trading in Maybank shares has been suspended since Friday, pending an announcement. It last traded at 8 ringgit per share, giving it a total market value of nearly $12.4 billion.

MCB shares were down 0.07 percent at 421.60 rupees at 0656 GMT, outperforming the broader Pakistan market .KSE which was 1.8 percent lower.

"This acquisition ... will align Maybank with a highly attractive franchise in a high-growth and under-penetrated banking market with a large population," Maybank Chairman Mohamed Basir Ahmad said in a statement.

Pakistan's banking industry is among the world's most profitable because of five years of financial reform, economic growth and rising incomes. MCB's net profit rose nearly 26 percent in 2007 to $242 million, which analysts attributed to its aggressive entry into consumer financing and to low administrative charges.

Maybank and MCD are likely to seek future deals together, according to Merrill Lynch's Soofian Zuberi, managing director and co-head of Asia Equity Capital Markets.

"The two banks have agreed to seek out opportunities in Central Asia and the Middle East. These are markets where there is a geographic and cultural proximity that both parties can work together on," said Zuberi, who advised on the deal.

PRICEY

Maybank voiced confidence in Pakistan's political outlook after February elections returned the nation to civilian democratic rule for the first time in almost a decade. Pakistan, a key U.S. ally, also sits on the front line of conflict between Western forces and Islamist militants.

Maybank said the offer represented about 5.13 times MCB's book value. That is toward the top end of recent deals in Pakistan, which was a magnet for foreign banks even before February's polls.

Oman's Bank Muscat BMAO.OM and Japan's Nomura Holdings (8604.T) paid 2.8 times book value for Pakistan's Saudi Pak Bank SPCB.KA in January this year. In 2006, Standard Chartered (STAN.L) paid a lofty 5.6 times for Union Bank.

FLURRY OF DEALS

Maybank said in March it had bought a 15 percent stake in Vietnam's An Binh Bank for $135 million cash. A week later, it paid $2.7 billion, 4.6 times book value, for a controlling stake in Indonesia's sixth-largest bank, Bank Internasional Indonesia, a price judged very high by analysts familiar with BII.

Maybank Chief Executive Abdul Wahid Omar said the bank was seeking to raise capital to help restore its capital ratios following the acquisition spree.

The fund-raising plan is expected to be announced by the end of next month, he told reporters. He declined further comment.

Maybank shares have fallen 11 percent since the Indonesian deal was announced. Fitch and Moody's have both put its credit ratings on a negative outlook, amid expectations that it would need to raise funds to bolster its balance sheet.

Maybank said it was buying the MCB stake from existing shareholders, including individual investors Mian Umer Mansha, MCB Chairman Mian Hasan Mansha and Muhammad Saleem.

Other sellers were the bank's pension funds as well as the Nishat Mills Ltd Employees Provident Fund Trust and the Adamjee Insurance Company Ltd.

The deal included the possibility of buying up to another 5 percent of MCB Bank from the three individual investors at no more than 510 rupees per share.

Maybank's investment banking arm, Aseambankers, and JP Morgan advised Maybank. Merrill Lynch advised the sellers.

Additional reporting by Michael Flaherty and Sahar Ahmed; Writing by Mark Bendeich; Editing by Jean Yoon and Quentin Bryar

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