Riyadh: A binding merger agreement between HSBC Bank Oman and Sohar International has been approved, the Muscat-based lenders disclosed in separate announcements on Wednesday.
In regulatory announcements released to the Muscat Stock Exchange, the firms said following the agreement all assets and liabilities of HSBC Oman will be transferred to Sohar International in a cash-and-shares deal.
The banks, who did not disclose the deal value, said that upon merger completion, HSBC Oman will be dissolved and no longer be a legal entity.
Shareholders of HSBC Oman will be offered consideration valuing HSBC Oman at one times the book value.
Shareholders will be given the option to get cash, provided it does not exceed 70 percent of the total consideration payable by Sohar International.
Sohar shares that form a part of the consideration to HSBC Oman will be valued at one times the book value, the calculations of which, for both banks, will be determined at a later date.
The move to consolidation is in keeping with a mergers and acquisitions trend seen in the banking sector in other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
In 2021, in what was described as a turning point for the Kingdom’s banking history, Saudi Arabia'’s biggest lender National Commercial Bank merged with smaller rival Samba Financial Group to create Saudi National Bank, with more than $240 billion in assets.
Also in 2021, SABB and Alawwal Bank finalized their merger, creating the Kingdom’s third-biggest bank by assets.
In Qatar, the consolidation of Islamic bank Masraf Al Rayan with Al Khaliji Bank in November 2021 created Qatar’s second-largest lender and one of the region’s largest Sharia-compliant groups.
The UAE banking sector saw a number of national banks merge to create Emirates NBD in 2007 and FAB in 2017. In 2019 Union National Bank and Al Hilal merged with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, and the Dubai Islamic Bank’s acquired Noor Bank in 2020.
A report published by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s in March 2021, said that the long-lasting adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could herald a second wave of M&A in the GCC. It anticipated that more lenders will merge in order to be strong enough to face any future crises.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday said that increased hydrocarbon production and continued recovery of non-hydrocarbon economic activity has seen gross domestic product growth in Oman rebound from -3.2 percent in 2020 to 3 percent in 2021, and is projected at 4.3 percent in 2022.