Abdulla Mubarak Al-Khalifa
Abdulla Mubarak Al-Khalifa, Acting Group Chief Executive Officer, Qatar National Bank, discusses key trends, challenges and opportunities in the market.
How has business been during the past year for QNB?
QNB’s strategy is to pursue sustainable profitable growth. We continue to experience strong growth in all our three core markets of Qatar, Turkey and Egypt as well as from the rest of our international network.
As at September 30, 2018, net profit reached ~$3 billion, up by 6% year- on-year. This was driven by operating income, which increased to ~$5 billion, up by ~8% over the same period, demonstrating QNB Group’s success in maintaining growth across the range of revenue sources. In Egypt and Turkey, net profits increased by 18% and 13% in USD terms year-on- year. Moreover, we continue to maintain high asset quality and efficiency with the non-performing loans ratio at 1.8% and cost to income ratio at 26.2% – both considered one of the best ratios among financial institutions in the region.
What are the main challenges that you face? How has the blockade affected business, and how have you tried to mitigate this challenge?
There are several macro challenges impacting the banking sector. These range from rising fed rates, impact of the US-China trade war, emergence and disruption by non-banking players and increasing regulatory requirements. Together, they increase complexity, administrative burden, competitive intensity, cost and a sense of urgency for the sector.
Qatar has weathered the blockade well proving its economy is robust and resilient. The authorities were quick to react and swiftly took several measures not only to mitigate the effect but also to re-direct the economy towards new avenues of growth. Today, Qatar has successfully overcome the blockade which has served as a catalyst and platform for future long-term growth, where the challenges imposed were transformed into opportunities.
The blockade has done little to substantially diminish our position as the largest bank in the Middle East and Africa. Domestically, it has reinvigorated the market, fostering more innovation, creativity and drive to self-sufficiency. It has fueled a number of sizeable food security, manufacturing, tourism and infrastructure (including utilities) projects that QNB is instrumental in supporting. Furthermore, several new trading partners and routes have been established. As we are already present in several of these markets, these flows have provided us another stream of opportunities to capitalize upon.
What are your expectations for 2019?
QNB Group is positioned as the gateway to Middle East and Africa, facilitating economic growth as a financial intermediary. Our top-tier ratings, diverse geographical footprint in over 31 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe and our strategic partnerships enable us to cement this positioning.
Looking into 2019 and beyond, the growth prospects across the markets we are present in are favorable and likely to provide tailwinds to our growth trajectory.
We will continue to invest in our flourishing domestic business to maintain our market-leading position, while growing our international network to uncover more opportunities to further diversify our business.
Copyright: UMS International Fz LLCTheme