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Middle Eastern bank management: Expansion remains top of the agenda for confident bank chiefs

The Middle East's most successful banks remain on a determined course for growth, both regionally and in terms of the products they offer. Will the boom in financial markets and services continue, despite political uncertainty and the contagion of the credit crunch?

Participants in this discussion

Saad Azhari, Blom Bank
Ibrahim Dabdoub
, National Bank of Kuwait
Eisa Al Eisa
, Samba Financial Group
Samir Hanna
, Bank Audi
Adel El-Labban
, Ahli United Bank
Abdul Hamid Shoman, Arab Bank

How has your bank been affected by the credit crunch?
SA, Blom Bank
Lebanon is a distinct market with its own characteristics. Its retail banking evolution is still at an early stage and credit is extended very cautiously. The same is true for our other retail banking markets in Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Our treasury placement philosophy is very conservative, so our portfolio did not at any point include hedge fund placements, mortgage-related CDOs and any securities that have suffered major losses in the credit crisis. As for our private banking customers, we had not recommended any such securities so there have been very few losses.

Economies of the Levant countries, which constitute our main battleground, are more sensitive to oil wealth and geopolitical developments and have therefore been so far insulated from the global recession.

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