Jordan's Capital Bank buys assets from Lebanon's Bank Audi

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan’s Capital Bank Group finalised a deal on Tuesday to acquire top Lebanese lender Bank Audi’s businesses in Iraq and Jordan in move to diversify and expand its operations, the bank’s chairman said.

Both parties agreed not to disclose the value of the deal, which has secured the necessary approvals from Jordan’s Central Bank and the Central Bank of Iraq, Capital Bank Group Chairman Bassem Al-Salem told Reuters.

“This agreement responds to Capital Bank’s plans to enhance its competitive position and expand its regional and local expansion in Jordan and Iraq,” Al-Salem said.

It will increase Amman-based Capital Bank Group’s assets by about a third to around 3.7 billion Jordanian dinars ($5.23 billion). Shareholders equity will exceed 400 million dinars.

Bank Audi expanded in Jordan and Iraq as part of an aggressive regional push before a major financial crisis hit Lebanon and paralysed its banks, forcing some of them to try to divest assets.

Bank Audi’s 14 branches in Jordan and 5 branches in Iraq will be merged with Capital Bank’s existing network, Al Salem said.

Capital is pursing expansion in Iraq via its 62% majority shareholding in National Bank of Iraq, a retail bank with over $533 million in assets, Al Salem said.

Its latest acquisition will help Capital Bank, a corporate bank whose shareholders are among the country’s main industrialists and businesses, to expand into the small and medium-sized companies sector and retail markets.

Capital Bank CEO Dawod Mohammad Al Ghoul said all of Bank Audi’s transactions would be retained along with its staff.

“We will retain all the commitments towards clients that were contracted by Bank Audi’s units in Iraq and Jordan as they are,” he said.

($1 = 0.7080 Jordanian dinars)

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely