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Israel’s two largest banks sign cooperation agreements with Bahrain’s NBB

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Israel’s two largest banks said on Sunday they had reached agreements with the National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) that will allow their customers to carry out financial transactions and banking operations in both countries.

The memorandums of understanding (MoU) signed by Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi with NBB represent a key bilateral economic step after Israel and Bahrain in September agreed to normalize relations.

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Leumi said the lenders agreed to cooperate on a common banking platform to allow their customers in both countries to carry out transactions in areas such as trade, banking, clearing and investment, as well as for foreign currency and securities trading.

The agreement is expected to facilitate cooperation between regional business sectors, with an emphasis on financial technology, finance, communications, self-driving vehicles, healthcare, and high-tech in general, Leumi said.

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Israeli banks have already signed similar agreements with counterparts in the UAE, after a US-sponsored deal cleared the way for a normalization of relations between the two.

Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat holds a nearly 44 percent stake in NBB.