National Bank of Oman positive on Egypt

25 August 2014

Egypt’s large-scale investment plans attract bank

National Bank of Oman is considering rebuilding its presence in Egypt, attracted by the rising investment and relative stability in the North African country.

“We are reviewing our operations there as there are very good signs in the country. Security has improved. There are huge projects going on…,” Mohammed Mahfoodh al-Ardhi, chairman of National Bank of Oman tells MEED.

The bank is the only Omani bank to have presence in Egypt, but in recent years it has scaled back its activity in the country. It did have five branches active in the country, but began closing down branches even before the 2011 Egyptian revolution. It currently only operates one branch in Cairo.

Al-Ardhi’s comments contradict rumours towards the end of 2013 that the bank was planning to exit its Egyptian operations.

Since then Egypt has voted in ex-army chief Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi as Egypt’s new president, a move expected by many to bring about an era of political and economic stability.

Since Al-Sisi’s election in June, the new president has announced large-scale investment plans including the expansion of the Suez Canal, the construction of airports and the revival of plans to build a Nuclear Power Plant.

“The situation is really encouraging and is very good story coming out of Egypt at the moment,” he says, commenting that the bank may announce further expansion plans within the next few months.

Al-Ardhi says the UAE is a target market and the bank is focusing on UAE-Oman trade.

Expansion within the domestic Omani market is also on his agenda. “At the moment our strategy is to double our profitability within the next three to four years,” he says.

As of December 2013, the National Bank of Oman’s Egypt operation had assets worth RO12.22m ($19.1m). This is a small fraction of the bank’s total assets of RO2.896bn. The bank’s UAE operations stood at RO90.77m by the end of 2013.

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