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Banking: Arab Bank appoints new chief executive

Jordanian firm picks former BankMed head; Shoman remains as chairman

Abdel Hamid Shoman

Abdel Hamid Shoman: recommended Nemeh Sabbagh to the board

Arab Bank has appointed Nemeh Sabbagh as its chief executive in a move that places him as the frontrunner to replace group chairman Abdel Hamid Shoman. Sabbagh will run the Jordanian financial institution’s day-to-day operations, allowing Shoman to concentrate solely on acting as chairman. He at present holds the dual role of chief executive and chairman of the bank.

Sabbagh, who will take up his new position on January 17, arrives from Lebanon’s BankMed where he was executive general manager. The bank is owned by the family of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005. The Hariri family owns nearly 20% of Arab Bank too. Despite its stake, however, Arab Bank sources say the Hariris have never interfered in the management of the firm. Indeed, an Arab Bank statement says that it was Shoman who recommended Sabbagh to the board.

The two worked closely together between 1998 and 2005 when Sabbagh was director-general at Saudi-based Arab National Bank, in which Arab Bank owns 40%.

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