By Hossam Mounir
The Emirates National Bank of Dubai (Emirates NBD) aims for 25% growth in all its activities by the end of 2015, according to Deputy Managing Director and Board Member Sahar El-Damati.
In an exclusive interview with Daily News Egypt, El-Damati asserted that the bank in Egypt has full support from the mother bank in the UAE. She also affirmed that the bank has great confidence in the Egyptian economy and the banking system.
How does the Emirates NBD view the Egyptian market?
Emirates NBD entered the Egyptian market in the second half of 2013, after it took over BNP Paribas, and at a time when Egypt was going through some really hard times. This, in my opinion, indicates more than one thing, as with this bold step, the bank asserts its strong support to Egypt and its confidence in the Egyptian economy as well as its ability to grow, in addition to its confidence in the Egyptian banking sector. Also, the parent bank in the UAE believes that there are strong growth opportunities in the Egyptian market, and a great expected increase in the size of investment in it, which definitely reflects on the banks’ businesses and increases their activities.
Do you feel actual activity in the Egyptian economy?
Yes, especially after the Economic Summit held last March in Sharm El-Sheikh. Over the past short period, a number of syndicated loans were organised for a number of projects in the field of energy. The parent Emirates NBD and the bank in Egypt have participated in some of these loans. I expect the economic activity in Egypt to increase and bank business would increase with it after the offering of Suez Canal Axis development projects, following the completion and opening of the New Suez Canal. I expect the Egyptian economy to witness a strong launch in a year at the most.
What kind of projects does the bank focus on funding?
The bank funds over 22 different sectors, the most important of which are the energy, electricity, petroleum, communications, construction, steel, cement, and food sectors. Our focus in the upcoming period is on projects related to the energy sector, and also the mega projects that the bank will enter into or that will be established by Emirati businessmen in the Egyptian market.
What role does the bank play in attracting Emirati investors to the Egyptian market and giving them the necessary support?
Emirati investors are actually very much interested in the Egyptian market. The Economic Summit in March attracted a great number of them, and of course they are clients at our bank. They are now in the preparation phase for entering strongly into a great number of projects offered during the summit, as well as other projects. If they need funding, the bank will be ready to play this role.
What are the most significant projects the bank participated in funding recently? And what was the volume of fund?
Emirates NBD took part in the loan that was given to National Port Said Steel Company, which is one of the Egyptian Steel companies owned by businessman Ahmed Abou Hashima. The total loan value is at EGP 1.9bn, and it will be used to fund part of the investment cost for building a new steel plant in Ain Sokhna. The loan period is eight years. Our bank also participated in the loan that was given to the Suez Canal Authority to buy dredgers to finalise the dredging operations for the New Suez Canal. The loan from the bank was worth $100m, of the total $1bn loan. Emirates NBD was also part of a loan given to one of the energy companies, with $150m, of which $90m where from the mother bank in UAE. The total loan value is $282m, which means that the bank covered more than half of the loan.
How much is the bank’s loan portfolio? And what is your targeted increase by the end of this year?
By the end of March, the bank’s loan portfolio reached roughly EGP 12.8bn, of which EGP 4bn are for trade finance through opening letters of credit and guarantee letters. There are also EGP 3.4bn allocated for the retail loan portfolio and around EGP 5.3bn loans for major companies as well as small and medium-sized companies. Emirates NBD has a special interest in the medium and small enterprises, especially medium enterprises. These enterprises alone acquire roughly 30% of the companies’ loan portfolio at the bank, which is approximately EGP 1.5bn. We have a strong team at the bank, which specialises in funding the enterprises and offering the service they need in the different activities. We plan to achieve growth of 25% in our different activities, including credit, by the end of this year.
How much is Emirates NBD Egypt’s current capital worth? Is there an expected increase now?
The bank’s capital is now at EGP 1.7bn, and I don’t believe we need to increase it, at least not for now, in light of the support from the mother bank in funding many projects in the Egyptian market.
What is the bank’s geographical expansion plan in the Egyptian market?
We currently have 63 branches in different areas in Egypt. We plan to increase them to 100 branches by the end of 2017. There will be many mini-branches so as to take advantage of the initiative of the Central Bank of Egypt to attract more citizens to deal with banks through these small branches.