London-based Standard Chartered Bank is, reportedly, set to finalise a decision on divesting its retail banking business in Lebanon, following the submission of final bids from the remaining two potential bidders.
One of the bidders was quoted by The Daily Star as saying, “It shouldn’t take more than a week. The ball is in Standard Chartered’s court. We made our offers and answered all the questions they sent us.”
It is believed that Cedrus Invest Bank and First National Bank are the only remaining bidders, the news daily reported. Bank Audi had recently scrapped its plans to acquire Standard Chartered Lebanon’s retail business, saying that it does not need to acquire such a small operation.
The offers submitted to Standard Chartered range between $17m and $22m.
An unidentified banker said, “But the price is not the only determining factor. The bank wants to know [whether] the new buyer will keep most of the staff or it will offer them good compensation so they can leave their work.”
If Standard Chartered goes ahead with its plan to divest the retail banking unit, it would still require Lebanon’s Central Bank approval.