DUBAI Feb 16 Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi
Arabia's second-biggest bank by assets, aims to take advantage
of opportunities arising from the country's economic
diversification plan to boost its share of corporate lending,
its CEO said.
Al Rajhi, Saudi Arabia's biggest Islamic lender, is one of
the dominant players in the kingdom's consumer banking market,
but has only around a 7 percent share of corporate lending.
It aims to use the government's National Transformation Plan
(NTP) as a springboard to become one of the kingdom's top five
corporate banks by 2020.
"In 2016 we gained market share [in corporate banking] for
the first time in four years," Chief Executive Steve Bertamini
said in an interview. "We believe we can steadily increase our
exposure in that sector and will give us a better balance within
our overall portfolio.”
“By 2020, we aim to grow our corporate banking focus on the
healthcare services, affordable housing, transportation and
energy areas,” he said.
The NTP, released last year, is meant to lessen the
dependence of the world's top oil exporter on hydrocarbons
following a slide in oil prices.
The government plans to boost non-oil revenue to 530 billion
riyals ($141 billion) by 2020, expanding the private sector and
creating 450,000 non-government jobs.
Bertamini said the bank had no immediate plans to tap the
debt market to fund the bank's expansion until the end of the
decade, adding that the lender was very liquid, had a low
loan-to-deposit ratio and among the highest capital adequacy
ratios in the world.
"We are very highly funded by current accounts, also very
unusual by global standards, so that gives us a strong
competitive advantage to fund our customers and our growth in
the short-term,” he said.
The bank on Jan. 18 reported a 5 percent rise in
fourth-quarter net profit, extending its run of rising profits
to five quarters in a row.
($1 = 3.7504 riyals)
(Editing by Adrian Croft)