Country Awards for Excellence 2020: Middle East
Ahli United Bank, Bahrain’s largest bank by assets, reported a 5% increase in profits to $730.5 million and saw its cross-border business grow to 20% of its loan portfolio in 2019. Its takeover by Kuwait Finance House has been postponed until December due to the coronavirus outbreak, ruling it out of this year’s best bank award.
Smaller but by no means less mighty rival National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) is Euromoney’s best bank in Bahrain after seeing profits increase by 6% in 2019 to $197 million, with a decent return on equity of 14.72%. Under the stewardship of chief executive Jean-Christophe Durand, formerly head of BNP Paribas’s Middle East and Africa operations, NBB embarked on a radical transformation programme in 2017 that is already delivering impressive results.
Digital development was core to the bank’s strategy in 2019 and it became the first bank in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) to roll out Open Banking solutions. It also invested in interactive teller machines and was the first bank to issue cards, statements, cheque books and Iban letter printing through these services.