Mashreq: ‘Forget The Glory Years’

Exclusive: Al Ghurair says UAE will not see pre-2008 profits for the foreseeable future.

In a rare interview, HE Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq, told Gulf Business he believes the UAE will not see pre-2008 profits for the foreseeable future.

“We are all benchmarked against that time before 2008, those glorious three years, but we should forget that – we won’t have that back in the near future,” said the boss of Mashreq, the UAE’s only privately-owned bank with total assets of over $20.9 billion in 2011.

“Government infrastructure and mega projects have increased this year but it hasn’t come back to what it used to be,” he said.

“But I think the worst is behind us; we are on the path of recovery. If the UAE economy is growing at three per cent, then the banking sector should grow at around five per cent this year.”

Mashreq reported a two per cent increase in its net profit in Q1 2012 to Dhs 271 million compared to Dhs265.3 million for the same period in 2011. The bank said a 46 per cent in decrease in loans provisions had nudged up profits this year.

Al Ghurair, one of the UAE’s richest businessmen with a personal fortune of $2.7 billion according to Forbes, said that crushing new regulations from the UAE Central Bank would impede UAE banking profits in the short-term.

“Some regulation is good, but zero regulation is a disaster,” the CEO added.

For the full and exclusive interview with HE Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, see the June issue of Gulf Business, out on June 2 2012.