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Oman: Mixed prospects for regional bank mergers in the year ahead

Expectations of a potential wave of regional bank mergers were dampened in December, after two major Saudi lenders, Riyadh Bank and National Commercial Bank (NCB), called off their planned tie-up. On 16 December, the banks issued separate statements to the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) saying their boards had agreed to end the preliminary discussions and wouldn’t continue studying the merger. No reason was given for the breakdown of talks. However, other deals are on the agenda: a proposed merger in Oman is showing signs of life after a year without any signs of movement and a cross-border Kuwait-Bahrain deal may also move forward.

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