After its own employees opposed an attempt to sell Samba Bank two years ago, the Saudi-owned bank is up for sale again. Will Bank Alfalah succeed where five others failed?

UBL, Meezan Bank, Askari Bank, and Fatima Fertiliser among others had sought to buy the Samba. Will Bank Alfalah succeed where all of the others failed to close the deal?

In 2021 Samba Bank decided to put the “For Sale” sign out in the yard. For anyone in Pakistan looking to buy a bank, it was a perfect opportunity. Samba was up for sale not because it was doing badly, but simply because the ownership of Samba’s parent company in Saudi Arabia was changing. 

The bank itself was small (the smallest commercial bank in Pakistan in fact), clean, and well-run. Samba was the suburban white picket home of bank shopping. Which is why a number of buyers stepped up to the plate ranging from United Bank (UBL) to Askari Bank and a consortium led by Fatima Fertiliser. 

Despite the interest, Samba failed to strike a deal with any of the potential buyers. In fact in May 2022, the bank announced it was terminating the process for the sale due to “unstable market conditions.” It seemed the new owners of Samba’s parent companies were starting to catch up to Pakistan’s smallest commercial bank. Now after just under two years, Bank Alfalah has made a non-binding indicative offer to the bank’s Saudi owners to acquire their entire shareholding in Samba Pakistan. In turn, the Saudis have agreed to evaluate the non-binding offer and invited Bank Alfalah to conduct diligence on Samba Pakistan.

To put it in very simple terms, the sale is back on the table. But what were the circumstances that led to the bank to go on sale, go off the market, and then once again be up for grabs? To understand, we go back to Samba Bank’s origins in Pakistan.


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Mariam Umar Farooq
Mariam Umar Farooq
The author is a business journalist and a member of the staff. She can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Samba has potential to grow and capture the market, revising it’s 5 years strategic plan.
    1. Convert to full fledged islamic bank.
    2. Change name opting principle owner company name.
    3. Expand branch net work carefully to cover major cities.
    4. Select high performing staff from peer banks.
    5. Increase current account deposits.
    6. Off load high cost deposits and risky credits.
    7. Invest in govt. Landings.

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