Commercialbank eyes expansion

05 May 2006

Commercialbank is planning a $1,500 million euro medium-term note (EMTN) programme, although the exact form that the first issuance will take has yet to be decided. Citigroup and HSBC are advising on the programme (MEED 7:4:06).

'We need to address certain aspects of our balance sheet structure and to meet funding requirements,' Andy Stevens, chief executive officer of Commercialbank, told MEED on 3 May. 'The advantage of an EMTN programme is that you can talk to large institutional investors, not just banks. We would be looking at a combination of interest from within the region, from Europe and from Asia. But the shape of the first issue has not been decided. Subordinated debt is not ruled out.'

Commercialbank is expanding its activities at home and abroad. The bank recently arranged the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in the local Gulf Cement Company, which was oversubscribed about nine times. An appointment of a lead manager for the IPO of shares in the greenfield Al-Khaleej Bank is eagerly awaited, with Commercialbank and Qatar National Bank as the main candidates.

Commercialbank is also undertaking a comprehensive review of its international activities, which have grown significantly since the acquisition of a 35 per cent stake in National Bank of Oman (NBO) last year. NBO also has operations in Abu Dhabi and Egypt. 'For each country, we have put in place a structural review,' said Stevens. 'In the UAE, we want to send the message that we operate federation-wide - it is not just an Abu Dhabi operation - and other foreign banks there have succeeded without an extensive branch network. In Egypt [where NBO has a full banking licence], NBO's operations are under total review.'

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