Noor Weighs Sale of Stake in Pakistan's Meezan Bank

  • Noor Financial said working with Credit Suisse on options
  • Investment firm’s stock jumps to its highest level in 5 weeks

Pedestrians pass in front of a branch of the Meezan Bank in Karachi.

Photographer: Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg

Kuwait’s Noor Financial Investment Co. is weighing the potential sale of its 49 percent stake in Pakistan’s largest Islamic lender Meezan Bank Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter.

Noor hired investment bank Credit Suisse Group AG to explore options for the holding, including finding possible buyers, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The stake has a market value of about $396 million at the current market price, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. No final agreements have been reached with any of the parties and the plan is at an early stage, the people said.

While Noor Financial hired advisers to assess opportunities regarding its investments and assets, it has not tasked the consultants with either increasing or decreasing its stake in Meezan Bank, the company said in a statement to Kuwait Stock Exchange.

Shares in Noor Financial gained 5.9 percent by 12:30 p.m. in Safat, Kuwait, the highest since April 16. About 1.9 million shares changed hands, almost three times its three-month daily average. Meezan advanced 3.6 percent in Karachi trading to a record high.

The Karachi-based lender, which has more than 450 branches in the country, agreed to acquire HSBC Holding Plc’s local operations in 2014. Meezan shares have risen about 24 percent this year, giving the Islamic bank a market value of about $809 million.

Noor Financial invests in emerging markets, according to its website. A representative for Credit Suisse declined to comment.

— With assistance by Fiona MacDonald, and Faseeh Mangi

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