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Report: Bank Audi to raise capital, consider Egyptian unit sale at 'right price'

Lebanon-based Bank Audi SAL will consider discussing a potential sale of its Egyptian subsidiary, Bank Audi SAE, with interested parties if it were to receive an offer at the right price, according to CFO Tamer Ghazaleh.

Ghazaleh, who was speaking to Reuters, said the bank would not have considered selling the unit if the political and economic situation in Lebanon was different. Since the crisis in the Middle Eastern country began in September 2019, Bank Audi has received offers from investment bankers to assist the lender in selling foreign assets to increase capitalization and liquidity of its Lebanese activities, Ghazaleh said.

Investors were particularly interested in Bank Audi's Egyptian operations, but the bank has yet to reach an agreement with any party, Ghazaleh told the newswire, adding that the lender would need board and regulatory approvals for a possible transaction.

Earlier, the Egyptian central bank said it had not received a request from Bank Audi to sell its unit, which had total assets of $4.4 billion at the end of September 2019, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Ghazaleh said Bank Audi will call a shareholder meeting in February to vote on its plan to increase equity, following an instruction by the Lebanese central bank in November 2019 for all local lenders to boost their common equity Tier 1 capital by 10% through cash injections by the end of 2019 and an additional 10% by June-end to deal with the economic crisis in the country.

Ghazaleh noted that Bank Audi had requested the regulator for some additional weeks beyond the Dec. 31, 2019, deadline to complete the first part of the equity raising due to its complexity and short time frame, but was confident of securing shareholder approval, according to the Reuters report.

The Beirut-based bank is seeking to raise $311 million in the first phase of the equity increase, the newswire wrote.