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Islamabad Sells Stake in United Bank

by AFP
Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Privatization minister says foreign buyers have bought over 80 percent of the $387 million stake.

Pakistan has sold its 19.8 percent stake in one of the country’s largest banks for $387 million, the first capital market transaction in eight years, officials said Thursday.

The government decided to sell its shares after receiving a high level of interest in United Bank Limited (UBL), which became a private entity in 2002, a government statement said. “There was an unprecedented interest from both the domestic as well as foreign buyers and the UBL deal was oversubscribed by almost two times,” the statement said.

Foreign buyers including Morgan Stanley, Wellington and Templeton and other international equity funds bought more than 80 percent of the stake, according to Mohammad Zubair, Pakistan’s privatization minister.

Pakistan is selling off its shares in the banking and energy sectors in efforts to raise around $2 billion within six months to address its huge debts and to counter widespread poverty, he added.

Privatization of loss-making state-run enterprises was a key focus of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s election platform before he took over the premiership last year. UBL has more than 1,300 branches in Pakistan and is also present in the United States, Qatar, Yemen and Bahrain, with operations spanning retail, corporate and investment banking, according to the bank’s website.

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