DUBAI: JPMorgan Chase has become the latest international bank to trim its exposure to Saudi Arabia, with an agreement to sell its minority shareholding in Saudi Investment Bank.
But the bank, the only US lender providing both commercial banking and securities services in Saudi Arabia, has insisted that it remains committed to the Kingdom, stating that the sale is part of winding-down of “non-core holdings and projects.”
Saudi subsidiary JPMorgan International Finance, which has held the stake since 1976, agreed to sell shares representing 7.49% of the SIB’s capital back to the bank for 759.3 million riyals ($202.2 million), the Saudi bank said in a statement on Tadawul on Sunday.
The transaction was subsequently confirmed by JPMorgan in a statement sent to Reuters.
The agreement to sell down shares in SIB comes a month after UK lender RBS agreed to sell its stake in Alawwal Bank, as part of a merger between Alawwal and SABB.
The merger — which will create Saudi Arabia’s third largest lender — comes as RBS looks to exit Saudi Arabia due to its own capital requirements.
JPMorgan on Sunday insisted that it remains optimistic about the Kingdom’s economic prospects, and is seeking to benefit from other opportunities stemming from reforms being pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“Globally, the firm has wound-down non-core holdings and projects over the past several years and this proposed sale is consistent with that consolidation effort,” said Bader Alamoudi, senior country officer for JPMorgan, told Reuters.
“We are excited and optimistic about the kingdom’s economic prospects, the opportunities offered by Vision 2030 and our firm’s ability to support it.”
JPMorgan is among banks advising the Saudi government on the upcoming listing of Saudi Aramco, likely to occur in 2019, which may raise as much as $100 billion.
SIB shares rose 2.1 percent on Sunday on the Tadawul, on a day when shares in most banks, financial service providers and insurers finished in positive territory.
Arms of the Saudi government are collectively the largest shareholder in SIB, the tenth-largest Saudi bank by assets, owning 34.6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.