First Abu Dhabi Bank withdraws offer to buy stake in Egypt’s EFG Hermes

FAB cites 'ongoing global market uncertainty and volatile macroeconomic conditions' as reasons for dropping the bid

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - February 7th, 2018: FAB (First Abu Dhabi Bank) Head office - Business Park. Wednesday, February 7th, 2018. Twofour54, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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First Abu Dhabi Bank, the top lender in the UAE by assets, has withdrawn its non-binding offer to acquire a majority stake in Egypt's largest investment bank, EFG Hermes.

FAB, as the Abu Dhabi bank is known, cited “ongoing global market uncertainty and volatile macroeconomic conditions” in a statement on Thursday to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.

"Egypt remains a strategically important market for FAB, where the bank will continue to support its customers and employees and continue to invest in the growth of its well-established partnerships and operations in Egypt," the bank said.

In February, FAB made an offer to buy at least 51 per cent of the company’s issued shares with an estimated purchase price of 19 Egyptian pounds ($1.21) per share, valuing EFG Hermes at 18.5 billion pounds.

Macroeconomic uncertainties are mounting globally following the Russia-Ukraine war, that has sent commodity prices to record highs in recent weeks, stoking inflation across the globe.

The International Monetary Fund lowered its global economic growth forecast for this year as supply chain disruptions continue to boost inflation amid higher energy prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund revised down its 2022 output projections to 4.4 per cent, half a percentage point lower than its estimate in October, in its World Economic Outlook in January.

It is set to further lower economic output projections for 2022 when it presents its World Economic Outlook next week.

Egypt, the most populous Arab country and one of the world's biggest wheat importers, has been affected by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and is seeking IMF support to minimise the impact of the war on its economy.

This month, Egypt’s Gulf allies pledged up to $22bn to help the country cope with the indirect effects of the war.

The Egyptian non-oil economy recorded a deterioration in business conditions in March, amplified by cost pressures. The Egypt PMI gauge dropped to 46.5 in March, from 48.1 in February, as employment numbers fell for the fifth month running.

The success of the deal would have been FAB’s second acquisition in the Arab world’s most populous nation and the region's third largest economy. FAB agreed to buy Bank Audi Egypt in January 2021 and received regulatory approval in April for the deal.

With more than Dh1 trillion ($272bn) in assets, FAB is looking to expand its operations in China, the world’s second largest economy. Last November, FAB said it would open its first branch in Shanghai this year after it obtained a financial licence from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

The Abu Dhabi lender set up a representative office in Shanghai in 2012. With the new branch licence, FAB will be able to offer Chinese yuan and foreign currency business onshore in China, it said at the time.

FAB has been involved in other deals this year and signed an agreement to sell a 60 per cent stake in its payments business Magnati to New York-listed Brookfield Business Partners, valuing the company at up to $1.15bn.

The UAE lender reported a 19 per cent jump in its 2021 profit on the back of higher net fee and commission income and gains on investments.

Updated: April 14, 2022, 11:48 AM