2004, Jan 01

Aga Khan Fund Wins Approval for Bid to Buy Habib Bank


Jan. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, a Geneva-based group that invests in companies from developing countries, won the Pakistan government's approval for its $390 million bid to buy a stake in Habib Bank Ltd.

A cabinet committee today ``approved the highest bid'' for Habib Bank, which was made by the Aga Khan Fund, said I.N. Abbasi, a spokesman for finance ministry in Islamabad.

The fund, which also owns Soneri Bank of Pakistan, bid 22.4 billion rupees ($390 million) at an auction Monday, beating an offer of 21.9 billion rupees by the State of Qatar Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment.

Habib Bank is Pakistan's No. 2 lender by assets. The government is selling 51 percent of the bank to raise funds to help repay Pakistan's overseas debt of $35 billion and reduce its budget deficit.

The sale would be the biggest to a single investor by Pakistan. In 1994, the government sold 12 percent of Pakistan Telecommunication Co. on the stock market to raise about $700 million.

In December, the government said it will raise 9.8 billion rupees by selling bonds to repay its debt to Karachi- based Habib Bank. In 2002, the government sold United Bank Ltd. for $210 million to Abu Dhabi Group and Bestway Holdings Ltd.

Last Updated: January 1, 2004 02:59 EST