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UAE's largest bank listed on Abu Dhabi stock exchange after merger

With estimated assets of about $180bn, First Abu Dhabi Bank becomes biggest in United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi business district (screengrab)

The United Arab Emirate's largest bank, created out of a merger of two UAE-based banks with estimated assets of $180bn, listed on the Abu Dhabi stock market on Sunday.

The listing of the First Abu Dhabi Bank came after the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and the First Gulf Bank agreed to merge last year.

“This is a transformational moment for Abu Dhabi, the region and beyond," Abdulhamid Saeed, group chief executive officer of the new combined bank, told Bloomberg News in an e-mailed statement on Sunday.

The bank, which is part-owned by the government and the state-run Abu Dhabi Investment Council, will follow the priorities and growth ambitions of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, the statement said.

Abu Dhabi, holder of about six percent of the world’s oil reserves, combined the banks to better compete with rivals and bolster its ability to lend and secure funding as the emirate grapples with low oil prices, Bloomberg said.

The merger may lead to further consolidation in the UAE financial services industry, where about 50 lenders compete in a market of about 9 million people, analysts said.

It is the second-biggest lender in the Middle East after the Qatar National Bank, which holds assets worth $198bn, The National said.

The boards of both banks voted to merge in July 2016 to "create a bank with the financial strength, expertise, and global network to support the UAE's economic ambitions".

"The start of trading on the shares of the new bank should reflect positively on the overall trading on the exchange during the coming period and should attract more investors, whether local or foreign, individuals or institutional,” Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange Chief Executive Rashed al-Baloushi told Reuters.

The bank's shares were up 1.0 percent during late afternoon trade on Sunday.