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Oman's Bank Muscat Eyes First Pakistan Bank Buyout    
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Source : www.asharq-e.com

DUBAI (Reuters) - Oman's Bank Muscat said it expects to agree this year on taking over Pakistan's Saudi Pak Bank with partners including Nomura Holdings and is not put off by the country's political turmoil.

Bank Muscat, Oman's largest lender, is in talks to buy 35 percent of the Karachi-based bank as part of a strategy to expand in the Gulf and South Asia as competition in its home market intensifies, Chief Executive Officer AbdulRazak Ali Issa told Reuters on Thursday.

Bankers familiar with the transaction said on Wednesday the parties were considering a price of 27 rupees to 28 rupees per share, valuing Saudi Pak Bank at about 13.75 billion rupees ($225 million).

Issa declined to comment on an indicative price. A 35 percent stake would be worth about $79 million. "Pakistan is a growing economy," Issa said. "We have been looking at it for a long time."

A purchase would mark the lender's entry into banking in the world's sixth most populous country where Saudi Pak is the 18th largest lender by market value, out of 25. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, struggling to secure another term, imposed emergency rule on November 3, suspending the constitution, firing hostile judges, rounding up thousands of opponents and imposing curbs on the media.

Asked if the turmoil was a concern for Bank Muscat, Issa said: "No, Pakistan makes good business sense ... we have not seen any impact so far."

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