Saudi’s Al Rajhi Bank Q1 net profit rises 21% on higher fees

A man walks past a sign of Al Rajhi Capital company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 8, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 24 April 2019
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Saudi’s Al Rajhi Bank Q1 net profit rises 21% on higher fees

  • The bank aims to boost its mortgage lending as more affordable housing comes on the market: CEO

DUBAI: Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest lender by assets, reported double-digit growth in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, helped by higher special commission income and fees.
Saudi Arabia’s biggest Islamic lender said net profit rose 21 percent in the three months ended March 31 to 2.89 billion riyals ($771 million). It made net profit of 2.38 billion riyals in the same perioda year earlier.
The bank aims to boost its mortgage lending as more affordable housing comes on the market, Chief Executive Steve Bertamini told Reuters this month.
Al Rajhi, which has traditionally focused on consumer banking, has been cautiously expanding its exposure to the private sector, Bertamini said, amid expectations that government employment may not rise much in the future.
Saudi banks’ performance in 2019 should be boosted by a surge in liquidity and an anticipated recovery in lending against a backdrop of higher oil prices.
Saudi Arabia’s economy grew in the fourth quarter of last year at its fastest rate since early 2016 due to an expansion in the oil sector, while non-oil growth was sluggish, statistics agency data showed in March.
Al Rajhi attributed its performance to an increase in total operating income, due to special commission income and fees.
Operating income for the quarter rose by 12 percent year-on-year to 4.64 billion riyals, while profits from special commissions increased 15 percent over the same time frame to 3.94 billion riyals.
Loans and advances at the end of March stood at 236.42 billion riyals, up 3.6 percent year-on-year, while deposits rose 3.4 percent to 293.5 billion riyals over the same period.


BMW picks insider Zipse as CEO to catch up with rivals

Oliver Zipse
Updated 19 July 2019
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BMW picks insider Zipse as CEO to catch up with rivals

  • German giant has lost ground to Mercedes-Benz and Tesla as tech steps up

FRANKFURT: BMW has named Oliver Zipse as its new CEO, continuing the German carmaker’s tradition of promoting production chiefs to the top job even as the auto industry expands into new areas such as technology and services.
Hailing Zipse’s “decisive” leadership style, BMW hopes the 55-year-old can help it win back its edge in electric cars and the premium market  from rival Mercedes-Benz.
But some analysts questioned whether Zipse was the right choice with new fields such as software and services like car-sharing becoming increasingly important.
“What is intriguing is the cultural bias to appoint the head of production. It works sometimes but ... being good at building cars is not a defining edge the way it was 20 years ago,” said Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois.
Current CEO Harald Krueger, and former chiefs Norbert Reithofer, Bernd Pischetsrieder and Joachim Milberg were all former production heads.
Zipse joined BMW as a trainee in 1991 and served as head of brand and product strategies and boss of BMW’s Oxford plant in England before joining the board.
He will become chief executive on Aug. 16, taking over from Krueger who said he would not be available for a second term.
“With Oliver Zipse, a decisive strategic and analytical leader will assume the Chair of the Board of Management of BMW. He will provide fresh momentum in shaping  the future,” said Reithofer.
Zipse helped expand BMW’s efficient production network in Hungary, China and the US, in a move that delivered industry-leading profit margins.
Under Krueger, BMW was overtaken in 2016 by Mercedes-Benz as the best-selling luxury car brand.
It also had an early lead over US  rival Tesla in electric cars, but scaled back ambitions after its i3 model failed to sell large numbers.
Reithofer initially championed Krueger’s low-key consensus-seeking leadership, but pressured him to roll out electric vehicles more aggressively, forcing Krueger to skip the Paris Motor Show in 2016 to reevaluate BMW’s electric strategy.
Krueger’s reluctance to push low-margin electric vehicles led to an exodus of talented electric vehicle experts, including Christian Senger, now Volkswagen’s (VW) board member responsible for software, and Audi’s Markus Duesmann, who is seen as a future CEO of the company.
Both were poached by VW CEO Herbert Diess, a former BMW board member responsible for research who was himself passed over for BMW’s top job in 2015.
VW has since pushed a radical 80 billion euro ($90 billion) electric car mass production strategy, and a sweeping alliance with Ford.

Other skills
“A CEO needs to have an idea for how mobility will evolve in the future. This goes far beyond optimising an existing business,” said Carsten Breitfeld, chief executive of China-based ICONIQ motors, and former BMW engineer. “He needs to build teams, attract talent, and promote a culture oriented along consumer electronics and internet dynamics.”
German manufacturers have dominated the high-performance market for decades, but analysts warn shifts towards sophisticated technology and software is opening the door to new challengers.
“Tesla has a lead of three to four years in areas like software and electronics. There is a risk that the Germans can’t catch up,” UBS analyst Patrick Hummel said.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport car magazine, normally quick to champion German manufacturers, this week ran a cover questioning BMW’s future.
“Production expertise is important, but if you want to avoid ending up being a hardware provider for Google or Apple, you need to have the ability to move up the food chain into data and software,” a former BMW board member said.