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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar slides to 52-month low, Saudi Fransi down on stake sale
September 12, 2017 / 1:43 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar slides to 52-month low, Saudi Fransi down on stake sale

* Foreign investors again net sellers of Qatari stocks

* But index ends off day’s lows as banks rebound

* Credit Agricole may sell more Banque Saudi Fransi shares

* Kingdom Holding rises on news of deal

* Egypt Aluminum leaps after saying it may boost capacity

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Qatar’s stock market slid to a 52-month closing low on Tuesday as foreign investors sold, while Banque Saudi Fransi fell in Riyadh after France’s Credit Agricole agreed to sell a 16.2 percent stake in it to local investor Kingdom Holding.

The Qatari stock index fell 0.7 percent to 8,472 points, though it ended off the day’s low of 8,390 points as some bank stocks rebounded. Exchange data showed investors from outside the region were again net sellers.

Qatar’s economy has been hit by an embargo imposed in June by neighbouring states. The wealthy government appears to have enough resources to ride out the sanctions, but its banks face higher funding costs as the other countries pull out deposits and loans.

Regional Arab investors sold Qatari stocks as soon as the embargo was imposed. With no progress made towards a diplomatic solution to the row, other foreign investors have joined them in recent weeks.

Qatar Navigation sank 5.6 percent on Tuesday and Qatar International Islamic Bank lost 2.8 percent.

Saudi Arabia’s index dropped 0.2 percent as Saudi Fransi fell 4.2 percent to 31.60 riyals and Kingdom jumped 5.1 percent.

Credit Agricole is selling its stake in Saudi Fransi for 5.76 billion riyals ($1.54 billion), or about 29.5 riyals per share - suggesting a substantial discount to the market.

Under terms of the deal, Credit Agricole may sell another 5 percent of Saudi Fransi through off-market block trades. A year after the deal, it would be allowed to exit its investment entirely by selling a further 9.9 percent. That could keep downward pressure on the stock.

“What we would be looking out for is how this change in strategic shareholder will change the management style of the bank,” said Shabbir Malik, a bank sector analyst at EFG Hermes. “Kingdom, although it owns a stake in Citi, lacks experience of running a commercial bank in our view.”

The French bank had previously said it was looking to divest from Saudi Fransi, and analysts do not see the deal as pointing to more mergers and acquisitions in the sector; shares in other Saudi banks were narrowly mixed on Tuesday.

Dubai’s index was almost flat and Abu Dhabi was 0.4 percent higher as the United Arab Emirates’ biggest bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, rebounded 2.0 percent. The stock has been in a downtrend since early August.

Egypt’s index dropped 0.4 percent but Egypt Aluminum soared 10 percent after the company said it was considering whether to expand annual metal production capacity by 250,000 tonnes. Also, the board approved an authorised capital increase to 5 billion Egyptian pounds ($284 million) from 1 billion pounds, and said it would distribute one share for every existing share.

HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index dropped 0.2 percent to 7,400 points.

DUBAI

* The index fell 0.2 percent to 3,648 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.7 percent to 4,470 points.

QATAR

* The index fell 0.7 percent to 8,472 points.

EGYPT

* The index dropped 0.4 percent to 13,484 points.

KUWAIT

* The index slipped 0.3 percent to 6,906 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index fell 0.2 percent to 1,308 points.

OMAN

* The index dropped 0.6 percent to 5,011 points. (Additional reporting by Celine Aswad, editing by Larry King)

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