(AFP, Manama) -- Bahrain's Al-Ahli Commercial Bank and the London-based United Bank of Kuwait (UBK) merged on Sunday and will be incorporated in the Gulf state as an offshore banking unit.
The merger was formalized after approval from the shareholders of the banks at a meeting of the constituent general assembly of the new institution, named Ahli United Bank, Al-Ahli said in a statement.
Al-Ahli chairman Mohammad Yousuf Jalal was elected chairman of the new bank, while UBK chairman Fahad al-Rajaan was appointed his deputy.
"The move is built around growth and is designed to strengthen both banks. The merger presents major opportunities for expansion and the generation of new jobs in Bahrain," said Jalal.
Rajaan said the new company "represents an exciting development in the future of financial institutions in the Middle East."
UBK was created in 1966 with offices in London and New York, and its assets by mid-1999 amounted to $2.57 billion. The Kuwaiti government has a 30 percent stake in UBK through its pension fund.
Other shareholders include Kuwaiti banks and private sector companies. Its main activities are commercial banking, real estate, aircraft leasing, private banking and asset management.
Al-Ahli was founded in 1977 and had assets at the end of 1998 of $816 million. It is listed on the stock exchange in Bahrain, the banking hub of the oil-rich Gulf.
Shares of the new bank will be listed on the Bahrain Stock Exchange from August 3, while Al-Ahli shares will be delisted, the statement added.
© Agence France Presse 2000
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