Analysts say the substantial offers indicate international entrepreneurs are keen to invest in Pakistan.
The Government of Pakistan has had offers of more than $1.2 billion for its remaining stake in the country’s largest private bank HBL, exceeding expectations, a minister said Friday.
The deal to offload the government’s 41.5 percent share in HBL, likely to be approved on Saturday, would be the country’s largest privatization deal in the past decade.
HBL, formerly known as Habib Bank Limited, was partly privatized in 2003, with the Agha Khan Foundation buying the bulk of the shares. The Privatization Commission recommended divesting the remaining shares earlier this year and offerings were made at stock markets in London, New York, Singapore and Dubai.
“This is an absolutely outstanding response from international investors and it was beyond our expectations,” said Mohammad Zubair, the minister for privatization by telephone from London.
The government had planned to offer 250 million base shares, with an option of selling 390 million more depending on the response. The minister said the cabinet committee on privatization would meet to approve the share price and green-shoe sale on Saturday in Islamabad.
Analyst Mohammad Sohail, the head of Topline Securities, said he was surprised by the level of international interest. “The offers are quite astounding and that shows that international investors are keen to invest in Pakistan—not only in the stock market but other sectors as well,” he said.
HBL, which opened in 1947, has 1,425 branches in Pakistan. Its foreign network is spread over 26 countries.