BMB starts reaping rewards from niche banking focus

26 January 1996

Bahrain Middle East Bank (BMB) doubled its net profits to $5.6 million in 1995, as the bank continued to refocus its efforts on developing niche investment capabilities. However, 1995 profits are still below those of 1993, when BMB started to implement the new strategy.

'Redirecting the bank from spread lending to investment banking operations is starting to pay off,' says Albert Kittaneh, BMB chief executive. 'We still have loans on the books, but almost all of the non-performing loans have been provided for.' The bank has begun launching new products, and is developing a client base in the Gulf, compared with its traditional focus in the US and Europe. Two new initiatives are planned for early 1996, and further details will soon be announced.

The bank restructured it's capital at the end of 1995, with the aim of eliminating losses incurred as a result of the Kuwait crisis. The bank has also progressively reduced the number of its own shares it holds. 'Eventually we intend to divest ourselves, but given that the whole market in Bahrain is depressed we will not be selling for the sake of selling,' says Kittaneh.

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