National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), the UAE’s largest bank by assets, plans to establish eight banking hubs — in Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Lagos, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Paris and Washington DC — to achieve its strategic plans for domestic and international expansion.
At a news conference on Thursday in the capital, Alex Thursby, who became the Group Chief Executive Officer of NBAD on July 1, said: “We continue to remain conservative. The bank is spearheading strategies built around three geographical pillars. In the home market; to build the largest, safest and best performing bank in the UAE and over time in the GCC. In wholesale; to deepen wholesale network across the West-East Corridor and integrate the Bank’s European and North American platforms into this network. And thirdly, build five international bank franchises in the largest and fastest growing economies in the West-East Corridor.”
He added: “We are underweight in retail banking. We want to grow the retail sector organically.”
Thursby identified Egypt and Malaysia as the countries where the bank was eyeing growth in retail banking.
He said that NBAD is next going to be applying for a licence in Singapore. “We are moving out of a specific segment in the trade finance business and from South Sudan, where we were proposing to open a branch. We have also put on hold the opening of a full branch in Lebanon. We are going to operate there through our Representative Office,” he added.
Thursby said the bank’s West-East Corridor strategy will utilise UAE’s and NBAD’s strong fundamentals as well as the country’s strategic location to tap into the growing economies that span from West Africa across to East Asia.
He said the ‘Corridor’ includes increasingly important economies in Middle East and North Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and greater China. “This region represents vast potential with unlimited resources, growing economic activities, and an emerging middle class.”
Thursby said NBAD’s wholesale banking has identified the five sectors that align to the bank’s strategy as financial institutions, energy, aviation and transportation, real estate and family conglomerates, and retailers.
As part of its strategic plan, NBAD, which has the widest international network among UAE banks with operations in 18 countries, will continue to strengthen its European and North American platforms. However, its growth concentration is focused on emerging markets in West-East Corridor where economies grow faster than in developed markets.
“Our return will oscillate somewhere around 15 per cent,” said Thursby, adding the bottomline for the current financial year will be “strong.” He didn’t elaborate.
Thursby also said the bank is in the process of appointing a new chief financial officer. He also said international business operations currently contribute 18 per cent to the bank’s profit, and this segment is expected to grow “reasonably consistently over the next five years.”