Abdellatif worked for much of his career at Citibank, rising to become head of the bank’s Bahrain-based project finance team in the mid 1990s. He returned home to Egypt in 1997 to take charge of the Cairo branch of Chase Manhattan Bank. In 2001, he joined state-owned Banque du Caireas a board member and head of risk management. Banque du Caire had undergone radical changes since 2000 when Ahmed Elbardai, who had previously headed Citibank’s Cairo branch, was appointed as chairman.

‘At Bank of Alexandria I will be seeking to replicate the Banque du Caire experience, through changing the culture and the internal procedures,’ says Abdellatif. ‘It will be a process of privatisation by management.’

Bank of Alexandria is the smallest of the four public sector banks, and has assets of some £E 24,000 million ($5,300 million). The bank has a 32.5 per cent stake in Egyptian American Bank (EAB). Abdellatif has also taken over the chairmanship of EAB, whose other major shareholder is American Express Bank, with 40.8 per cent. These two partners in 2000 offered to sell their stakes, and intensive negotiations were held over several months with Standard Chartered Bank. However, the talks were finally broken off at the end of 2001 (MEED 28:12:02).

Abdellatif says that the priority for EAB now will be to concentrate on its strengths and seek to achieve growth. He says there are no immediate plans to offer EAB up for sale again.

At Banque du Caire, Abdellatif’s position has been taken by Mona Yassin, who has been given the title of vice-chairman. She was previously deputy head of the Cairo branch of Citibank.