Bahrain bank merger a litmus test for Gulf

The planned merger of two Bahraini banks, besides having the aim to create the largest Islamic lender in the Gulf Arab kingdom, has the possibility to break the ice for more consolidation in a regional industry frozen in its tracks by unrealistic valuations and ownership limits.
The proposed tie-up between Bahrain Islamic Bank and smaller rival Al Salam Bank to develop a $4.5-billion (U.S.) entity is a big test for the region after the last attempted merger, between two Qatari banks, was a failure.

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