Islamabad — Pakistan’s government has announced to offload part of its stake in the Habib Bank Ltd. (HBL), the country’s biggest lender by assets, as it moves ahead with a divestment plan to raise funds and cut the budget deficit.
The government owns 42.5 percent shareholding in the bank and is offering shares with base size of 250 million shares. A meeting chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, approved the floor price of 166 rupees per share ($1.62 approximately), according to a government announcement.
The offer of HBL is being made only through the book building method to the eligible international and domestic institutional investors and high-net worth individual investors, the statement said. The book building would start at 0900 hrs (Pakistan Standard Time) on April 7, and will conclude at 1700 hrs (PST) on April 10.
The Privatization Commission Board and the Cabinet Committee on Privatization would meet April 11 to approve the strike price based on the final results of the book building process.
Listed on the country’s three stock exchanges with a customer base of over 8 million, the HBL was privatized in 2004, with 51% shares sold to the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development along with management control. Pakistan’s government retained 42.5 percent shares, part of which is being offered through the sale offer. The remaining 7.5 percent shares are owned by the general public, following the public listing in July 2007.
HBL was the first commercial bank established in 1947, the year Pakistan gained independence from the British colonial rule. The bank has over 1,600 branches and has a presence in as many as 29 countries, according the bank’s official website.
The bank is expanding its presence in international and regional markets including the U.K., UAE, South and Central Asia, Africa and the Far East. Its first international branch was established in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1951. The bank’s international operations include USA, Singapore, Oman, Belgium, Maldives and the Netherlands.
HBL has the largest Corporate Banking portfolio with an active investment banking arm, and offers agriculture lending programs and banking services in urban and rural centers.