AMMB Group CEO: Merger Plans With RHB Bank Still in Negotiation Stage

By Yantoultra Ngui Features Dow Jones Newswires

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--RHB Bank Bhd. (1066.KU) and AMMB Holdings Bhd. (1015.KU) remain in negotiations for a proposed merger of the banks, AMMB's Group Chief Executive Officer Sulaiman Mohd Tahir said on Monday.

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"Hopefully if we can negotiate well, we should be able to come back to the market late August or early September [on whether both banks are proceeding with the merger,]" and submit the documentation to authorities for approval, Mr. Sulaiman told reporters after the annual general meeting of Malaysia's sixth-largest bank by assets.

AMMB and RHB, Malaysia's fourth-largest bank by assets, jointly said in early June that they received approval from the Malaysian central bank to start merger talks that could potentially challenge--but not overtake--the position of the country's third-largest bank, Public Bank Bhd. (1295.KU).

Analysts who attended a briefing by RHB after the proposed merger announcement last month said RHB would be the acquirer in the all-stock deal and would pay AMMB's shareholders a one-time multiple of AMMB's book value, which is near where the banks are trading.

"I think it's very premature to say how things are going to pan out," Mr. Sulaiman said, adding that both banks still have to decide whether to proceed with the merger followed by the valuations for the deal and ways to merge, such as via a share swap.

"To say how it is going to look like in terms of the shareholdings of the combined entity finally, it's still pretty much too early," he added.

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RHB's market capitalization was 20.17 billion Malaysia ringgit ($4.71 billion) as of Monday, while AMMB's was MYR14.92 billion.

AMMB's large shareholders include Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ.AU) and AMMB's founder and chairman, Azman Hashim. Both have previously hinted at plans to exit AMMB.

RHB's major shareholders include state pension fund Employees Provident Fund, Aabar Investments PJS and OSK Holdings Bhd., according to the banks' latest annual reports.

Write to Yantoultra Ngui at yantoultra.ngui@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 31, 2017 03:39 ET (07:39 GMT)