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Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait seeks acquisitions as Gulf lenders merge
May 29, 2018, 3:59 pm

Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait is on the lookout for acquisitions in the Gulf region as it seeks to boost revenue from international operations. “We want to manage and absorb the last merger, but we’re always looking for acquisitions,” CEO Michel Accad said in an interview on Monday in Kuwait City.

“We can consider anything at the right price, but not anywhere, we have a preference for the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

Al Ahli Bank, which bought Piraeus Bank Egypt in 2015, is seeking to increase income from non-domestic operations to about 33 percent in three-to-four years from about 20 percent currently, Accad said. He added that he hoped to achieve that goal “faster.”

Banks in the GCC are consolidating to better compete in a crowded market.

Abu Dhabi’s largest banks combined last year to create a $175 billion powerhouse and Saudi lenders backed by HSBC Holdings Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland are in the process of merging.

Excess liquidity

Al Ahli Bank now operates 39 branches in Egypt, as well as 31 domestic branches and two in the UAE.

The bank has excess capital and liquidity and was hoping to participate in more of Kuwait’s development projects. It’s currently joint lead manager for two local projects with a combined value of 790 million dinars ($2.6 billion), Accad said. The projects are “trickling down a bit too slowly,” he said.

Loan growth in Kuwait is expected to remain flat this year in the low single digits due mainly to project delays and low consumer spending, the CEO said.

Kuwaiti banks may grow a little faster than last year in terms of profit due to lower provisions. Al Ahli Bank helped arrange a $480 million loan for Dubai Aerospace Enterprise this month.

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