Final offers were due to be tabled on 6 May, but the date passed with only a few of the banks involved making an offer. A new deadline of May 25 is now expected to be set.

Banks including Standard Chartered, Samba, National Bank of Greece, Mashreqbank and a consortium of Saudi Arabia’s Arab National Bank and Jordan’s Arab Bank have been shortlisted to conduct due diligence on the Egyptian bank.

It is not clear why some groups failed to table a bid in time, but a source close to the sale denies that it has anything to do with liquidity problems due to exposure to sub-prime-related assets.

The sale is expected to exceed the $1.6bn paid for Bank of Alexandria by Italy’s Sanpaulo IMI in November 2006.

Another potential Egyptian bank tie-up has also hit problems with the termination of talks between Egypt’s Commercial International Bank (CIB) and Arab African International Bank (AAIB) in early May. The two had been in talks since October 2007 but have now ended discussions.

Ashraf Shash, director of strategic planning at CIB said: “We didn’t reach agreement with AAIB shareholders despite the fact that we received great support from our shareholders and the Central Bank of Egypt.”