Bank M&A set to surge in Saudi Arabia
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Bank M&A set to surge in Saudi Arabia

The $15 billion merger that created Saudi National Bank is tipped to kick-start a cycle of consolidation in the Kingdom’s banking sector.

Elliot Wilson Middle East 1920px.jpg

More bank mergers and digital lenders are the order of the day in Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom seeks to transform itself into a developed financial economy by 2030.

In October, a $15 billion merger brought together National Commercial Bank (NCB), the country’s largest lender by assets, with local rival Samba Financial Group.

The new organization, renamed Saudi National Bank (SNB) on April 1 and headed by chief executive Saeed Al-Ghamdi, is the Kingdom’s largest bank by assets and market capitalization.

It posted a net profit of SR2.07 billion ($552 million) in 2020, down 32% on an annualized basis in a Covid-impaired year.

Analysts and bankers tip the move to usher in a long-awaited cycle of consolidation in a big, but for too long, sleepy and overbanked market.

Asad Ahmed, Alvarez & Marsal

“My feeling is this is not the end of the process,” says Asad Ahmed, head of Middle East financial services at global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M). “We are likely to see more mergers.”

That would seem to be inevitable and even desirable, rather than just likely.

For one thing, Saudi Arabia is overbanked.

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