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Oman lender sells HDFC Bank stake

Mumbai, March 17: Oman’s Bank Muscat has sold nearly 40 per cent of its 2.3 per cent holding in HDFC Bank.

“Till date, the bank has sold around 40 per cent of its stake and the gain on realisations will be reported in our first-quarter results,” Bank Muscat said in a filing with the Muscat Stock Exchange.

Bank Muscat did not provide any financial or other details of the sale. However, based on the closing price of the HDFC Bank scrip on Monday (Rs 844.60), the sale would be worth over Rs 300 crore.

For the quarter ended December 2008, Bank Muscat held 90,51,724 shares of HDFC Bank.

“In line with our annual report disclosures in our chairman’s statement, we decided to sell our stake in HDFC Bank over a period of time,” the bank said.

Bank Muscat earlier held a 14.02 per cent stake in Centurion Bank of Punjab Ltd (CBoP). CBoP was later acquired by HDFC Bank and consequently, Bank Muscat’s stake was converted into a 2.13 per cent stake in HDFC Bank.

The sale by Bank Muscat is being seen as a fallout of the current global financial crisis. Reports say Bank Muscat has suffered losses on its investments. The bank has forecast that losses in its equity portfolio can be between Rial 4 million ($1 million) and Rial 7 million ($1.9 million).

On the BSE today, the HDFC Bank scrip ended lower by 2.3 per cent at Rs 825.40. At present, institutions hold 38.04 per cent in the private sector bank. Among them, foreign institutional investors have a 27.44 per cent stake. The rest is held by corporate bodies, individuals and others.

As of December 31, 2008, HDFC held a little over 19 per cent in the bank. Other key shareholders who hold over 1 per cent of its equity include the Life Insurance Corporation, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company, DBS Bank Ltd and Europacific Growth Fund.

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