Top Abu Dhabi banker Khalifa Mohammed al-Kindi is the new chairman of the United Arab Emirates’ central bank, a statement from the bank after a board meeting showed on Monday.
Sultan Nasser al-Suweidi remains governor of the bank for now, according to the bank statement, although his term, which expired in July, has yet to be officially renewed.
The chairman, who heads board meetings and has the final say on policy decisions, is involved in strategic decision-making, while the governor steers the bank’s day-to-day operations and represents it at high-level international events.
Kindi, 53, began his career at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. He is also a former chairman of National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s top lender by market capitalization.
“He is a seasoned banker, strong minded, who knows the banking business for a long time,” said a top Abu Dhabi-based banker, who did not want be named.
“His is a strong appointment that will be welcomed by banks that are looking for a more dynamic leadership than in the past. He will be able to shape and lead the direction of the central bank in these challenging times,” he said.
In 2007, Kindi joined the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, an investment arm of the government of oil-rich Abu Dhabi, where he now serves as managing director and member of the executive committee.
Kindi, who has an economics degree from Eastern Michigan University in the United States, also chairs asset manager Invest AD, owned by the council, and sits on the boards of several state entities.
He succeeds Khalil Foulathi, whose four-year term as chairman of the central bank also expired in July.
There was no official announcement about the change but the statement on the outcome of a board meeting held on Sunday showed Kindi was the monetary watchdog’s new chairman.
A central bank source, who declined to be named on briefing rules, confirmed Kindi was the new chairman, adding an official announcement is yet to be made.
The UAE, the world’s number three oil exporter, tracks U.S. monetary policy because it pegs its dirham currency to the dollar.
Monday’s central bank statement also said that UAE banks were in a good position, and insulated from the current turmoil in financial markets, adding that banking indicators were positive.
The International Monetary Fund said last month further deleveraging and retrenchment by European banks, which have been hit by the sovereign debt crisis in their region, could lead to liquidity pressures in Gulf Arab countries.
The UAE, whose banks still face provisioning issues stemming from Dubai’s 2009-2010 debt crisis, saw a drop of 23 per cent in lending by euro area banks, the IMF also said. Despite high liquidity, UAE bank lending growth remains slow, at around three per cent on an annual basis.