Abu Dhabi’s ADQ plans to set up digital bank in the UAE

First Abu Dhabi Bank will have a 10% stake in the digital bank

FH1NBM Evening view of new financial and business district called Abu Dhabi Global Market square (ABGM) on Al Maryah Island Abu Dhabi. Alamy

ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies, is planning to set up a digital bank in the UAE using a legacy banking licence currently held by First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB).

As part of the deal, FAB will transfer the ownership of the First Gulf Bank licence to ADQ. In exchange, the UAE's largest lender by assets will receive a 10 per cent stake in the new digital bank and will have preferential access to another 10 per cent of the shares at the time of its listing, FAB said in a statement on Monday to Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares trade.

ADQ, set up in 2018, holds government stakes in companies spanning key sectors of Abu Dhabi’s non-oil economy, including utilities, tourism and hospitality, aviation, transportation, logistics, industrial, real estate, media, healthcare, agri-foods and financial services.

Its portfolio includes Abu Dhabi Power Corporation, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Abu Dhabi Airports, Abu Dhabi Ports, Etihad Rail, Seha, insurer Daman, media companies Abu Dhabi Media and twofour54 and Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, among others.

Last month, ADQ acquired 22.25 per cent of the Middle East's biggest courier company, Aramex. It also launched a new organisation to manage the procurement of healthcare products in Abu Dhabi and also acquired a 50 per cent stake in Al Dahra Holding, an Abu Dhabi-based animal feed and essential food commodities specialist, in May.

The shareholders of FAB will vote on the proposal at the lender's general assembly meeting on October 20, the statement said.

FAB was formed following a merger of First Gulf Bank with National Bank of Abu Dhabi in 2017.

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