Wires

UPDATE 1-Dubai's MAF explores partial credit card business sale in review -sources

Hadeel Al Sayegh

-sources@ (Adds no comment from Moelis)

DUBAI, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Dubai's Majid Al Futtaim, which operates the Middle East franchise of French retailer Carrefour, is exploring options for its credit card business including enlisting partners to manage unsecured credit risk, two banking sources told Reuters.

The economy in Dubai is suffering from sluggish growth due to a real estate downturn and slowing global trade, hitting white-collar jobs and consumer spending.

MAF, a holding company which also owns and operates shopping centres in the Middle East and North Africa, hired U.S. investment bank Moelis & Co at the start of the summer to advise and manage the partial sale of its Najm credit cards, said the sources, who declined to be named.

Should a transaction follow, MAF would hold on to the data portion of the card business and its loyalty programme, while the banks would acquire the loan portfolio, the sources said.

MAF said it continues to explore and evaluate opportunities that support the sustainable growth of its business.

"We are evolving our consumer finance business, Najm, to ensure that it meets the changing needs of its customers and the growing demand for its products," it said in a statement.

"We believe that consumer finance has a strong runway for growth and fully intend to leverage this for the benefit of our customers and partners," it added.

U.S. lender Citigroup, and UAE lenders Mashreq Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) have been shortlisted as bidders for the business, which is valued between $200 million and $250 million, one of the sources said.

Citi and Moelis declined to comment, while FAB and Mashreqbank were not immediately available to comment on Thursday.

The move would help MAF bring in a partner that is expert in managing credit risk, while the retail conglomerate can continue to hold onto loyalty and customer data, two sources said.

The deal could also help potentially outsource some of the IT and back office work, one of the sources said. (Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar; editing by Alexander Smith and Edmund Blair)