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GE likely to sell its 33% stake in Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya

Connecticut-based General Electric (GE) is likely to dispose of its 33% stake in Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya, triggering opportunities for merger and acquisition of the Bangkok-based institution by foreign firms.

Sources close to the matter told Bloomberg that the deal, if finalised would be the country’s largest acquisition of a bank, which has a market value of $7.1bn and is claimed to be a profitable lender among 11 publicly traded Thai banks on net interest margin basis.

The deal however requires approval from the nation’s central bank.

Bank of Ayudhya, which was formed in 1945 and has 600 branches in Thailand, is a credit cards, car loans and personal finance issuer whose 29% stake was acquired by GE in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, the Kuala Lumpur-based Maybank is likely to be one among the potential bidders for the bank, though the Malaysia lender declined to comment whether the bank would bid for GE’s stake.

In an interview with CNBC, Maybank’s chief executive officer Abdul Wahid Omar said, "It’ll be great if we can have a domestic retail and commercial banking presence in Thailand."

According to Bank of Thailand Deputy Governor Krirk Vanikkul, lenders from South Korea, Taiwan and Australia have shown interest in investing in Thailand.