A record attendance of almost 200 bankers from across the region attended the Euromoney Middle East Awards for Excellence Dinner at Raffles Hotel in Dubai June 1. The attendance, as well as the broad range of winners in the awards, demonstrated how banks and the capital markets in the Middle East are not just coping with the challenges of a falling oil price and geopolitical upheaval, but are seizing the opportunity to build modern, sustainable and profitable businesses.
“Competition for our Middle East awards this year was the strongest it has ever been, and arguably tougher than in most other global regions covered by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence,” said the editor of Euromoney, Clive Horwood, when presenting the awards. “That is evident from the number of institutions from all around the region represented at our dinner tonight and in the many difficult decisions our judging panel of senior editors had to make.”
Arguably the most competitive category of all was for the title of the Middle East’s best bank. The award went to Emirates NBD, also named best bank in the UAE. “At the heart of the tussle to build a more complex client offering, Emirates NBD moves ahead of what are still very worthy rivals, not just in its home country but across the region. And when you add that to its financial performance during the awards period, it is a worthy winner,” Euromoney said.
“Profit growth since 2010 has been higher than any other big bank in the region. Return on tangible equity rose above 20% in 2015 – high even by regional standards. Its tier-1 ratio was even better relative to peers, at 17.6%, and deposit growth surpassed bigger peers as well, at 12%.”
That battle between local and international banks played out in most regional categories. Local banks that won regional awards this year included: NBAD for the Middle East’s best bank for markets; ADCB as the region’s best bank for transaction services; Lebanon’s Audi Private Bank, the Middle East’s best bank for wealth management; Egypt’s AlexBank, best bank for SMEs; Arab African International Bank, the best bank for corporate social responsibility; Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait, for the region’s best bank transformation; and Emirates NBD, named best digital bank in one of a number of inaugural regional awards.
The local and regional banks did not have it all their own way. HSBC retained its crown as the best investment bank in the Middle East. “It remains impossible to find any firm – local or international – with as much to boast about in investment banking as HSBC,” Euromoney said. “The investment banking arms of regional universal-banking champions struggle to challenge it even in debt capital markets. And among the internationals, its equity and research franchise – above all in the biggest market, Saudi Arabia – is unrivalled. It also has an unusually large regional team, for example, in areas like project and export finance. It has also been at the forefront of the opening of Saudi Arabia’s stock market.”
Other big regional awards that went to international firms included Citi, named best bank for financing in the Middle East; and Barclays, the region’s best bank for advisory.
In domestic markets, national champions generally continued to dominate: Ahli United in Bahrain, CIB in Egypt, NBK in Kuwait, Arab Bank in Jordan, and NCB in Saudi Arabia all retained their best bank awards, as did EFG Hermes for Egypt’s best investment bank. Samba Capital disrupted the traditional leaders to be named best investment bank in Saudi Arabia, while Bank Blom regained the title of Lebanon’s best bank. Qatar Islamic Bank displaced national champion QNB as the best bank in Qatar, where Barclays was named best investment bank.
Euromoney’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Financial Services in the Middle East was presented to Hisham Ezz Al Arab, the long-serving CEO of CIB in Egypt, for his pioneering work in the banking and financial markets in the country, and his careful and successful stewardship of CIB through Egypt’s recent crises, throughout which the bank has continued to deliver best-in-class financial performance on a regional level. “The Middle East needs more capable, driven, visionary yet pragmatic bank leaders such as Hisham Ezz Al Arab if its banking and financial sectors are to fulfil their vast potential,” Euromoney said.
About the Awards for Excellence
The Euromoney Awards for Excellence, launched in 1992 and now in its 25th consecutive year, were the first of their kind in the global financial publishing industry. The nature of the global banking industry is changing, and this year we have made fundamental changes to the categories in our Awards for Excellence to reflect this.
The main purposes of these changes are:
- to move away from awards based on individual product categories where other determinants of status and ability, are readily available;
- to focus on banks/investment banks that can demonstrate an ability to deliver the different parts of their firms to meet clients’ needs and adapt to market and regulatory conditions, and
- to consider candidates for these awards that might not be global in scale, but are truly world class in the way they are run and in the services they deliver to clients.
We strongly believe these changes will ensure that Euromoney’s Awards remain the hardest to win, and the most sought-after, in the global banking industry.
Euromoney’s award decisions are made by a committee of senior journalists, chaired by Euromoney’s editor, following the receipt of detailed submissions from market participants and extensive year-round research into the banking and capital markets in the region by our editors, journalists and research team. Euromoney’s Awards for Excellence cover more than 20 global product categories, best-in-class awards in all regions and the best banks in close to 100 countries around the world.
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