Corporate Banking Director at Attijariwafa Bank-Egypt, Tamer Ragheb, said that the bank targets 70 new credit customers with loans exceeding EGP 3bn by the end of this year.
In a special interview with Daily News Egypt, Ragheb said that the size of the bank’s finance portfolio is currently EGP 11.4bn and that the bank aims to increase it to EGP 15bn by the end of 2019–a growth of 35%.
He added that during 2018, the bank had achieved a growth of 36% in the loans of large and medium-sized companies. Most of the financing provided to fund these companies was through syndicated loans.
Furthermore, he explained that the bank aims to expand the injection of direct financing in order to expand the customer base, especially from medium-sized enterprises.
In response to a question about the main sectors that the bank will focus on financing, Ragheb said the bank focuses on sectors with high consumption, such as food, medicines, and health care.
The bank injected more than EGP 2bn in the construction sector during the past year and is continuing to support this sector, because it is one of the sectors with high and rapid growth opportunities, he added.
“The tourism sector is one of the new sectors for Attijariwafa Bank-Egypt and although the bank’s financing portfolio is not large, it will be one of the sectors that the bank will explore in this year ” Ragheb said.
Moreover, Ragheb also stressed the bank’s interest in the renewable energy sector, pointing out that the bank is currently considering several loans in this sector.
In addition, the bank is currently considering a medium term direct loan of €8m to a private company working in the renewable energy sector, he stated.
According to Ragheb, defaulting in the bank’s large and medium-sized corporate sector, despite portfolio diversification, is very small compared to other banks.
In a related context, Ragheb revealed that the bank is allocating EGP 250-350m to finance micro-projects.
He explained that the bank will pump this amount through companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in this type of lending.
“Since its entry into the Egyptian market in May 2017, Attijariwafa Bank-Egypt has been updating the bank’s information systems and is currently updating its electronic payment systems in preparation for the introduction of a range of electronic payment systems by the end of this year,” Ragheb said.
He pointed out that one of the most prominent services that will be provided in this area is the electronic payment service for foreign trade financing, and the issuance of electronic letters of credit through internet banking.
As for offering the Meeza card or the QR Code, Ragheb said that these services are under study, explaining that the bank is preparing its technological infrastructure first and then it will head to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to request the service it intends to provide.
He declared that the bank currently provides electronic payment systems for taxes and customs, and aims to develop that in the coming period, to enable clients’ self-payment.
“Attijariwafa Bank-Egypt is currently contracting with electronic payment companies operating in Egypt to provide collection services for these companies through its automated mechanisms or through cash deposits,” said Ragheb.
In another context, Ragheb expressed his intention to introduce an export finance product in the coming period as part of its quest to be an export finance bank.
“We have a substantial activity in the financing of commercial operations, which include guarantees as well as import and export, and the volume of this activity within the bank during 2018 reached about $1.7bn, and we aim to increase this amount by 50% this year, through increasingly supporting exports,” according to Ragheb.
Attijariwafa Bank-Egypt has a competitive advantage that does not exist for most of the banks operating in the Egyptian market. It has the largest network of branches in 14 African countries and seven European countries, in addition to a wide network of correspondents covering most countries, he pointed out.
The Head of Corporate and Investment Banking at Attijariwafa Bank-Egypt highlighted that most exporters in Egypt are medium and small companies. Therefore, the bank seeks to provide financing opportunities to these companies in the context of its keenness to support small exporters, whether through financing, or to help them avoid the risks of export to Africa.
Additionally, h declared that most large companies currently have very considerable export systems, and reached a very high growth stage, but smal and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) have good future growth opportunities.
Attijariwafa Bank-Egypt opened last week the Africa and Development Club-Egypt.
According to Ragheb, this club mainly supports Egyptian exports. He explained that the bank is located in 14 African countries, and the club is located in 10 African countries. This allows Egyptian customers who will join the club to connect to a large network of 30,000 importers in these countries.
Ragheb stressed that the return of this club will be very positive on Egyptian exports to Africa, especially in light of the difficulties in exporting to these countries, in terms of entering these markets, or in finding the right partner, or in locating the appropriate bank for collections and payments.
“This club offers new and sophisticated solutions for Egyptian exporters who want to be in Africa,” Ragheb announced.
Over and above, he emphasised that Attijariwafa Bank-Egypt handles the trade process between Egyptian exporters and importers in the African countries in which they are located from beginning to end. This is a competitive advantage that is not available in other markets operating in the Egyptian market, which do not enjoy a strong presence in African countries.
On the bank’s hedging of the risks surrounding the financing of foreign trade especially for Africa, Ragheb said that one of the competitive the bank’s advantages is its presence in African countries, which is exported to by Egyptian exporters, and that allows the bank’s branch to provide financing to its importing customers in the local currency of their country. The state supports these transactions in foreign currencies, and thus the bank is securing Egyptian exporters from the fluctuations in the prices of African currencies.