QNB Confirms Talks for Kuwait Finance House's Malaysia Unit

Qatar National Bank SAQ, the biggest Middle East lender by market value, said it held talks to buy the Malaysian operations of Kuwait Finance House KSC.

No agreement has been reached in the preliminary discussions, the lender said in a statement to the Qatar Exchange Thursday.

The state-controlled lender submitted final bids along with at least one other party, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this week. Kuwait Finance House may not proceed with a sale unless it can agree on a high-enough price, one of the people said.

Kuwait Finance House, the first foreign Shariah-compliant bank to operate in Malaysia, said in March it intended to focus on expansion in the Middle East and North Africa. The bank has operations in Bahrain, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in addition to affiliates in Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Kuwait Finance House’s Malaysian business had total assets of 10.5 billion ringgit ($2.5 billion) at the end of December, according to its 2014 annual report.

Qatar National Bank has spent at least $3 billion on acquisitions since 2012, expanding abroad to reduce its focus on a home market of 2 million people.