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UAE’s NBAD Eyes Overseas For Growth

UAE’s NBAD Eyes Overseas For Growth

Earnings from international clients rose four per cent in 2012.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s largest lender by market value, aims to lift the proportion of revenue from international sources to compensate for slow growth at home, its chief executive said.

“The broad picture is that the domestic business has been performing relatively flat but the international business has been going rather well and we expect this growth to continue,” Michael Tomalin told an analysts’ call on Wednesday.

The bank, which reported a 3.2 per cent drop in loans and advances in 2012, was targeting an equal split between local and foreign earnings. Tomalin gave no timetable to achieve this.

Earnings from international clients, including those from foreign sources booked through its Abu Dhabi base, rose to 42 percent of the total, up from 38 per cent in 2011, Tomalin said.

Lending growth, a traditional driver of profit for UAE banks, has been subdued for some time. Loan growth in the first ten months of 2012 was three per cent, according to the latest central bank figures available.

Early last year, NBAD forecast growth in loans and advances in 2012 of up to 10 per cent before lowering the projection to four-eight per cent in October.

This compares with rampant loan growth in other parts of the Gulf – Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s biggest bank, and Qatar National Bank, the largest lender in Qatar, reported 23 and 28.9 per cent loan growth in 2012 respectively.

NBAD is forecasting 10 per cent loan growth for 2013, with revenue growth of “high single digits, maybe 10 per cent,” according to Tomalin.

However, NBAD was not likely to make acquisitions to boost its international business, Tomalin said.

“We don’t eschew acquisitions forever,” Tomalin said, adding there were one or two countries, without being specific, which the bank would look at as possible target markets.

NBAD hoped to set up offices in Lebanon, South Sudan, Brazil, Turkey, India and South Korea in the next two years and strengthen its presence in Egypt, Oman, Jordan, Sudan & Bahrain.

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