Thursday, July 8, 2010

All in the Family: KIPCO, Burgan, and United Gulf Bank


As you'll recall in late June, United Gulf Bank (90.7% owned by KIPCO) announced that it was selling Tunis International Bank to Burgan Bank Kuwait (55.47% owned by KIPCO and affiliates) for US$725 million.  This being part of a larger strategy by Burgan Bank to develop its international banking franchise by buying the international banking franchise of UGB.  

Prior notable steps in that process were the May 2009 successful transfer of UGB's shares in Algeria Gulf Bank and Baghdad Bank to Burgan Bank.  As per the press release, "Mr Masaud Hyatt' MD said:
“The transfer of the commercial banks has provided excellent return to our shareholders and will allow UGB to focus on its investment banking & asset management business.”
That transfer was preceded by the transfer of ownership of UGB's shares in Jordan Kuwait Bank to UGB in July 2008.  
“By transferring our investment in JKB to Burgan Bank, UGB has realized the hidden value of the asset and, by reinvesting the proceeds into Burgan Bank, UGB is acquiring a premier investment grade listed asset which will provide growth and value to our shareholders. As one of the region’s leading investment banks, it is astute business for UGB to re-invest in a business that we have helped to build.”

And, perhaps, even more "astute business" to recognize a profit on such a re-investment which some uncharitable souls out there (but definitely NOT Abu Arqala) might characterize as selling to oneself!

Today, UGB announced on the Bahrain Stock Exchange that it had secured the approval of the Central Bank of Kuwait to buy up to 20% of the shares of Burgan Bank  (over the next three months).

Do I perhaps sense another example of  "astute business"?

I'd close this post by noting that many in the West today lament the decline of the traditional family.   The adverse impact on society from the loss of family values. This is so keen a concern that in one country at least one political party has had great electoral success portraying itself as the defender of family values.  And, as some would have it, F.D. as well. 

As we now look to the The Midlde East, particularly the KIPCO Family, it's understandable that we might feel more keenly our sense of loss and perhaps frankly some envy. Here is a region and culture well known for strong family solidarity.  A place where families play an important role in the lives of individuals and society in aggregate.  My family, your family, The Family.

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