“We have been looking to make an acquisition in Egypt during the sell off of some of the state banks, but unfortunately we did not succeed.

Instead we will proceed with an organic growth strategy in Egypt,” said Nabeel Malik, head of the retail banking division at the UAE bank.

Most banks wishing to enter Egypt have had to do so by acquisition because the central bank is not issuing any more banking licences.

Mashreq has had a full banking licence since 1978, but has only been operating a corporate banking division.

Malik adds that he also sees Egypt as an opportunity to outsource all of Mashreq’s back office functions.

“The government has taken some significant steps to create an outsourcing environment in Egypt and we’re pretty optimistic about consolidating or outsourcing our back office functions in Egypt,” says Malik.