Prequalification on bids for a 26 per cent strategic share in Bankers Equity (BE) are due in by 17 December. The government has set a tight schedule and aims for the sale to be finalised before the end of January. It is hoped that prequalification of bidders will take place before the end of December. Bids will be invited during the second half of January and evaluated before the month’s end.

Financial advisers, BMA Capital Management say that expressions of interest in prequalifying have come primarily from Pakistan and the Middle East, although there has been interest from a small number of European groups.

The State Bank of Pakistan currently holds shares of 18.1 per cent in BE. Other state-owned banks with shares in BE are National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank, United Bank and Allied Bank, as well as Muslim Commercial Bank and National Insurance.

BE is the second privatisation of a major financial institution. Bids for a 26 per cent stake in the state-owned United Bank were invited from prequalifiers in November (MEED 24:11:95).