Saudi British Bank (SABB) has rebranded as SAB – الأول two years after the banks’ historic merger with Alawwal Bank to create the kingdom’s fourth-largest lender with total assets of $84bn (SAR314.5bn) as of December 31, 2022.
The banks legally merged in June 2019 and completed the integration of their systems a year later – a process that took 18 months during which the merged entity continued operating as SABB. The tie-up, which valued Alawwal at $5bn, broke an almost 20-year drought for mergers and acquisitions in Saudi Arabia’s banking industry leading to more deals in the country.
SAB – الأول said it will operate as “Saudi Awwal Bank” after obtaining the necessary regulatory and shareholders approvals.
“This rebranding is not just a change in our name and visual identity, but a strong reaffirmation of our dedication to putting our customers first by prioritizing their aspirations and ambitions, to innovating and promoting sustainability in all we do and to supporting Vision 2030 and key sectors of the Saudi economy,” said Lubna Olayan, chair of the board of directors at SAB – الأول.
SAB – الأول said incorporating ‘Alawwal’, which means first in Arabic, into the bank’s new identity reflects a long history as a pioneer and innovator – a history that goes back to 1926, when the lender’s predecessor became the first financial institution to operate on the territory that would become Saudi Arabia a few years later.
We are delighted to announce our new brand name SAB – الأول that reflects our ambition to become the bank of tomorrow and a commitment to prioritizing your aspirations. All our banking products and services will continue to operate as normal.
For more https://t.co/7C5zX7ceQ6 pic.twitter.com/ejaYdHIAPn
— SAB | الأول (@alawwalsab) April 3, 2023
“SAB – الأول will continue to put customers first and operate under the same high-quality standards our customers have come to expect from us, always striving to be the bank of first choice, one that can solve both the challenges we face today and those we will face tomorrow,” said Tony Cripps, the bank’s CEO.
The bank has a paid-up capital of SAR20.5bn following its merger with Alawwal Bank in 2021. SAB – الأول is 31 per cent owned by HSBC Holdings while the Oyalan Group holds a 20.26 per cent stake and Saudi Arabia’s General Organisation for Social Insurance has a 5.3% shareholding while the remaining 44% stake is owned by other shareholders.
SABB’s financial credentials
Meanwhile, SAB – الأول, then SABB, reported a more than 50 per cent jump in 2022 net profit boosted by higher operating income and lower impairments. The bank made a net profit of SAR4.87bn in 2022 from SAR3.2bn from the previous year.
Operating income grew 26 per cent in 2022 to SAR9.7bn compared to SAR7.7bn recorded in 2021 while customer lending jumped by 6 per cent to SAR7.9bn in the bank’s corporate business and 14 per cent to SAR5.8bn in the retail business.
The bank also said customer deposits soared by 15 per cent to SAR 214bn last year from SAR186.8bn in 2021. SAB – الأول said it remains committed to innovation as it leverages its pioneering roots in the kingdom and its historic with HSBC Group.
In other news, mergers and acquisitions are likely to continue to be a driver of transformation in the financial sector as incumbents look for strategic partnerships and consolidation opportunities to boost digital capabilities, counter the disruption from digital attackers and address sustained pressure from regulators.
Sohar International Bank received the central bank’s approval to merge with HSBC Bank Oman in February. Sohar International is also linked with a potential merger with Omani Islamic lender Bank Nizwa. Both proposed mergers are subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.
Standard Chartered Bank entered into an agreement with Arab Jordan Investment Bank (AJIB), subject to central bank approval, which will see Standard Chartered’s corporate, commercial and institutional banking, consumer lending and private banking businesses migrated to AJIB.