Banking: NBK sets sights on Syria after big regional push
National Bank of Kuwait is hoping to gain a bank branch licence in Syria soon. The bank is still preparing its application but expects to get the green light during the next two months.
"There are not too many Egyptian banks for sale now"
When it does, it plans to set up a $106.3 million banking subsidiary. NBK would hold a 49% share of the new lending operation, the maximum allowed by the Syrian authorities. Once NBK gains entry into the Syrian market, it will have a presence in all of the leading markets in the Middle East and Arab region, following the completion last month of investments in Egypt and Turkey. In Egypt it bought Al-Watany Bank for $516 million; in Turkey it signed an agreement to buy a 40% stake in Turkish Bank (NBK declines to reveal the total cost).
Ibrahim Dabdoub, NBK’s chief executive, says the Al-Watany deal was important because Egypt is the biggest market in the Arab world. He admits that NBK had been seeking an investment in the country for a while and had previously failed to buy a number of local banks. Al-Watany was one of the few remaining opportunities.