Islamabad – Pakistan’s government has approved the sale of its remaining 609 million shares in HBL, the country’s biggest bank by assets, accepting offers for a total amount of $1.02 billion.
The government received offers of $1.6 billion for its 42.5 percent stake, making it the largest-ever equity offering out of Pakistan as well as in Asian Frontier markets, Chairman Privatization Commission Mohammad Zubair told a cabinet committee which approved the sale, says an April 11 official announcement.
Offers amounting to $1.02 billion were received with $764 in foreign exchange component and 22.56 billion rupees, according to the announcement. The committee approved the strike price of 168 rupees per share.
The government had initially offered 250 million shares with remaining to be decided depending upon the response to the sale. The offers were received during three days of book-building at New York, London, Dubai and Singapore.
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 at the time retained 42.5 percent shares, which were sold today. 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.