KUALA LUMPUR/DUBAI, Feb 17 - Malaysia's top lender, Maybank, said it was not in talks to buy a Dubai investor's stake in Bank Islam, a deal that would have created the largest sharia bank in the Asia-Pacific region.
"We are proud to be associated with the bank's impressive turnaround over the past two years and are confident of its potential to grow further," the group said in a statement.
Maybank Islamic is the biggest Islamic bank in Malaysia, which has one of the world's most developed Islamic financial industries, thanks to a vast sharia bond market and a well established regulatory framework.
Talk of a Maybank Islamic-Bank Islam merger came as several other banks in the rapidly growing sector are also seeking acquisition opportunities to boost their size -- although a sharply slowing global economy could put a brake on expansion plans.
Kuwait Finance House Malaysia, a subsidiary of Kuwait's top Islamic bank, and Islamic Bank of Asia, which is backed by Singapore's DBS, have said they are on the lookout for acquisition opportunities in the region.
"This matter comes under the purview of the shareholders, and in view of this, I am in no position to give you any response," Bank Islam Managing Director Zukri Samat said in a statement when asked to comment on talk of the shareholding change.
Zukri had said in January that the lender, a subsidiary of Malaysian financial group BIMB Holdings Bhd, had identified a potential domestic merger or acquisition partner although it needed regulatory approval for talks.
Maybank Islamic acting chief executive Ibrahim Hassan declined to comment.
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