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HSBC, GIB Said Close to Mandate for $4 Billion Saudi Bank IPO

HSBC Holdings Plc and Gulf International Bank BSC are frontrunners to arrange the largest share sale in Saudi Arabia in at least 12 years, according to three people familiar with the matter.

A formal decision on the mandate to lead the initial public offering of National Commercial Bank, the kingdom’s largest lender, is expected imminently, the people said, declining to be identified as the information isn’t public.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is selling 15 percent of its 69 percent holding in NCB, bank chairman Mansoor Al Maiman said Feb. 27. The first Saudi bank IPO since 2008 could raise about 16 billion riyals ($4.3 billion), according to Asim Bukhtiar, head of research at Riyad Capital. That would surpass the 15 billion-riyal offering by Saudi Telecom Co. in 2002, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We are about to reach our recommendations very soon,” Al Maiman said by phone today. “We will announce it as soon as today or tomorrow. We cannot disclose any information right now, but as soon as we get the CMA approval by today or tomorrow we will put the news out.”

Paul Harris, a spokesman for HSBC in Dubai, declined to comment. A spokesperson for GIB didn’t immediately return calls or e-mail seeking comment. No one at the Ministry of Finance, which runs the PIF, was immediately able to comment.

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