NBAD Eyes Emerging Markets For Growth – CEO

The UAE lender plans to set up eight banking hubs in major cities and five franchises in key markets.



2. National Bank of Abu Dhabi

MCAP $bn: 15.30 Sector: Banking & Investment ServicesThe UAE's second biggest bank by assets posted a third quarter profit fall of eight per cent, its first drop in two years. The Dhs1.04 billion missed analysts’ forecasts of Dhs1.22 billion.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi , the largest lender by market value in the United Arab Emirates, expects revenue to grow 7-8 per cent in 2013 and plans to expand in cities from east China to west Africa.

NBAD, the most international UAE bank, plans to set up eight banking hubs in major cities and five franchises in key markets, Alex Thursby, its newly-appointed chief executive, said on Thursday as he outlined his strategy for the company.

Previously chief executive for international and institutional banking at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group , Thursby took over NBAD in July.

Thursby’s expansion plans are designed to counter stiff competition at home, where 51 foreign and local banks have curtailed lending since the 2008 financial crisis and a UAE property crash.

“Growth concentration will be focused on emerging markets in the West-East corridor where economies grow faster than in developed markets,” he told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

The corridor covers important markets from west Africa to east China, he said.

The eight banking hubs will be in Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Lagos, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Paris and Washington DC. The five franchises will be created in five countries where the bank could expand by opening 10 to 20 branches, he said, naming just two – Egypt and Malaysia.

NBAD posted an eight per cent drop in third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, its first such decline in nearly two years. Thursby said he expected revenue growth of 7-8 per cent for full-year 2013 but declined to give a forecast for profitability.

The bank has posted double-digit profit growth in the last few years.

While impairment charges will fall gradually, balance sheet growth will be driven by lending growth of 10 to 15 per cent and deposit growth of 12 to 16 per cent this year, he said.

NBAD, which is owned 70 per cent by the Abu Dhabi government, is also eyeing growth in the home retail market and overseas business. The bank will pursue an aggressive retail growth strategy, Thursby said.

It also expects its overseas business to generate more than the current 18 per cent to its total business, he said.

The bank is abandoning plans to enter south Sudan by withdrawing its application and to set up a fully-fledged branch in Lebanon, he said, part of the strategy to focus on strong growth areas. The bank will retain its representative office in Lebanon.

Thursby did not rule out acquisitions but said the focus would be on organic growth. “I will never say never (to acquisitions) but we have to base our business on organic growth.”

NBAD shares on Thursday closed at Dhs12.50 , down 0.79 per cent.