UPDATE 1-Qatar National Bank to sell small stake in Egypt unit to comply with listing rules

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DUBAI/CAIRO, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Qatar National Bank (QNB) , the Middle East’s largest lender by assets, said it will sell a 2 percent stake in its Egyptian unit QNB Alahly to comply with Cairo listing rules.

A QNB spokesman said the bank had no current plans to further reduce its stake, which will stand at 95 percent after the sale.

The sale of the 2.125 percent stake is intended to comply with Egyptian stock exchange rules that require a free float of not less than 5 percent, QNB Alahly said in a statement.

QNB has hired CI Capital to advise it on the sale of a small stake, it said.

QNB entered Egypt by buying Societe Generale’s Egyptian business for $2 billion in 2013 and QNB Alahly is the third largest Egyptian bank by assets, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Ties between Qatar and four Arab states - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain - have deteriorated since the Arab states imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on Doha in June last year.

Qatar’s Commercial Bank is in talks to sell its 40 percent stake in Abu Dhabi-listed United Arab Bank, while Reuters reported in August that Doha Bank was seeking to sell some of its UAE loan book.

QNB, however, has remained committed to its businesses in Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. It has ruled out any sale of its 40 percent stake in UAE-based Commercial Bank International .

In Saudi Arabia QNB offers retail and corporate banking services, but put on hold plans to connect to the kingdom’s interbank payment network, Reuters reported late last year. (Reporting By Tom Arnold and Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Saeed Azhar and Susan Fenton)