Commercial Bank of Kuwait has been aiming for some time to take full control of BBK, including management control. ‘We are still in negotiations with existing shareholders and hope to start due diligence very soon,’ Commercial Bank’s chairman and managing director Abdulmajeed Alshatti told MEED on 23 November. The bank currently owns a 6.75 per cent stake.

Several Kuwaiti banks own similar-sized stakes to Gulf Bank in BBK, among them Al-Ahli Bank of Kuwait, National Bank of Kuwait and Bank of Kuwait & the Middle East, and have been in talks to sell their stakes. BBK’s main franchise is in Bahrain – offering the chance for Kuwaiti banks to build a regional platform – while activities within Kuwait are limited. The bank also has some operations in India.

BBK’s total assets at the end of 2004 were BD 421 million ($1,108 million), shareholders’ equity was BD 158 million ($415.8 million) and net profit was BD 25.7 million ($67.6 million).