The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has granted conditional approval to Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB) to conduct due diligence for a potential transaction for the purchase of 55 percent shares of Telenor Microfinance Bank Limited (Easypaisa).
The development was shared in a notification to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). “The SBP has granted in-principle conditional approval to MCB to conduct due diligence for a potential transaction for the purchase of 55 percent shares of Telenor Microfinance Bank Limited held by Telenor Pakistan BV (operates under the Easypaisa brand name),” read the notice.
The board of directors of MCB had already, in its meeting held on October 27, 2021, accorded its in-principle approval to conduct due diligence for the potential transaction. MCB back then informed the PSX that the proposed acquisition of a microfinance bank is likely to bring correction in the microfinance sector with the support of a major bank.
The development comes days after the central bank also granted in-principle approval to the United Bank Limited (UBL) to commence the due diligence of Telenor Microfinance Bank Limited for the proposed acquisition of 55% sponsor shares in TMB.
Telenor Microfinance Bank is jointly owned by Telenor Pakistan and Ant Group, which is an affiliate company of the Chinese Alibaba Group. It was established in 2005 as Tameer Microfinance Bank. In 2009, the bank launched Pakistan’s first mobile banking platform Easypaisa, transforming digital payments in the country. Late in 2018, Ant Financial bought a 45% share of Telenor Bank.
Introduced as branchless banking, being a pioneer with the brand of Easypaisa, Telenor Bank has expanded its businesses countrywide with innovative services. According to the financial statement, the bank earned a gross profit of Rs 1.245 billion by the end of September 2021.