Saudi banks’ aggregate profit grows 14% in March

Saudi banks’ aggregate profit grows 14% in March
The outlook for Saudi banks and foreign banks operating in the Kingdom is expected to remain positive. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 May 2021

Saudi banks’ aggregate profit grows 14% in March

Saudi banks’ aggregate profit grows 14% in March
  • The data covers 11 listed banks and some foreign banks operating in the Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia-listed banks reported a 14 percent rise in aggregate net profit before Zakat and tax to the tune of SR 4.02 billion in March 2021 as against SR 3.53 billion a year earlier, according to data from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).

The data covers 11 listed banks and some foreign banks operating in the Kingdom.

Banks' aggregate assets grew by over 11 percent year on year (YoY) to SR 3.035 trillion in March, combined deposits increased by 9 percent YoY to SR 1.980 trillion in the same month, whereas loans to the private sector saw an increase of 15 percent YoY to around SR 1.871 trillion by the end of March, financial news portal Argaam reported.

Talat Zaki Hafiz, financial analyst and banking expert, told Arab News: " the obvious reason for the aggregate reported net profit by Saudi banks to show a rise of 14 percent is the positive return back of the banking sector to the normal operations after a long period of lockdown (partially and completely) of more than than 70 days, between March and May last year due to the COVID19 pandemic as part of precautionary measures taken by the Saudi government to prevent the spread of the virus."

During the lockdown Saudi banks were able to serve its clients normally, despite the fact that in certain days of the lockdown the sector was operating with only 25 percent of its branches network capacity which exceeds in total 2000 branches Kingdom-wide, he added.

Saudi banks utilised technology and electronic payments to serve customers effectively as is evident from report by SAMA, which also indicated that the rate of e-payments for the retail sector - Individual Retail Payments by the end of July 2019, amounted more than 36 percent of all payments available, exceeding the targeted percentage of the financial sector development program (FSDP), one of the key programs of Saudi Vision 2030, he underlined.

FSDP stipulates that the share of non-cash transactions should be increased by 28 percent by 2020, he added.

"This achievement is based on SAMA's strategy for payment systems and the FSDP, which aims to enhance e-payment and reduce cash handling to reach 70 percent of total payments in the Kingdom by 2030," said Hafiz.

SAMA also pointed out that the record growth rates witnessed in the e-payments through the national payment system "Mada" is a result of Mada strategic plan, he added.

Launching Mada Atheer (NFC) service has had a major impact in enhancing e-payment, especially after the introduction of mobile payment services.

"These positive indicators were the result of SAMA's efforts to support use of electronic channels in cooperation with the local banking sector with the participation of relevant private service providers, as well as the constant cooperation of SAMA with government entities to promote e-payment," he added.

Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, Advisor and Professor of economic law at the Institute of Public Administration, Riyadh told Arab News: "The increase in net profits of Saudi banks and foreign banks operating in the Kingdom is due in part to corporate credit growth which picked up substantially in 2021 after the Public Investment Fund (PIF) programs helped generate additional business for contractors and credit to small and medium enterprises (SME)."

He said: "Saudi banks and foreign banks operating in the Kingdom outperformed their regional counterparts. This reflects the relatively low impact of the pandemic on the performance of Saudi banks loan books and higher growth of mortgage lending."

The outlook for Saudi banks and foreign banks operating in the Kingdom is expected to remain positive, he added.

This rise in net profits is also due to lower impairments and higher fees and commissions which is indicative of the Saudi economy’s resilience and recovery from the pandemic impact, he reasoned.

"Saudi banks have also benefited from an increase of their total operating income due to higher net commission income, invested related income and higher fees from banking services. Also mergers between Saudi banks such as the merger between the National Commercial Bank and Samba financial group will help increase such profits," said Al-Obaidy.


IHC’s Alpha Dhabi to list on ADX with $2.72bn paid-in-capital

IHC’s Alpha Dhabi to list on ADX with $2.72bn paid-in-capital
Updated 48 min 58 sec ago

IHC’s Alpha Dhabi to list on ADX with $2.72bn paid-in-capital

IHC’s Alpha Dhabi to list on ADX with $2.72bn paid-in-capital
  • Abu Dhabi IPO slated for June 27

ABU DHABI: Alpha Dhabi Holding (ADH) announced its intention to proceed with an IPO and listing of its ordinary shares on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) on Sunday 27th June with 10 billion Emirati dirhams ($2.72 billion) paid-in capital, WAM reported.

The offering is expected to involve a sale of existing shares to individuals and other investors in the UAE and to qualified institutional and other investors.

“We have made the journey to become a public company in a way that’s going to have a positive reflection on our growth plan, and as a public company we will have a stronger capital structure to invest in additional verticals, expand commercially and accelerate growth both organically and through acquisitions,” said ADH Chairman Mohamed Thani Murshed Al Rumaithi.

IHC acquired a 45 percent stake purchase in ADH in April.

“We invested in Alpha Dhabi in early 2021 and we have used our sector experience to reorganize, integrate and transform Alpha Dhabi into a leading UAE holding company with special focus on construction and hospitality,” said Syed Basar Shueb, CEO IHC.

“The business is growing fast, highlighted by the 30 percent jump in first quarter revenue and gaining a listing on a major stock exchange will enhance its already strong platform and reputation. We are delighted to have supported its management team to deliver on its Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange IPO,” he said.

Incorporated in 2013, Alpha Dhabi operates across five industries, including health care, construction and hospitality. The company’s investment portfolio, local and international, includes 25 subsidiaries and 40,000 employees active in different fields.


Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space
Updated 48 min 3 sec ago

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space
  • Company completed its first manned space flight from its home port in New Mexico in May
  • SpaceShipTwo craft can hold six passengers

WASHINGTON: Billionaire Richard Branson’s spaceship company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. said on Friday it received approval from the US aviation safety regulator to fly people to space, following a successful test flight last month.

Virgin Galactic completed its first manned space flight from its new home port in New Mexico in May, as its SpaceShipTwo craft, which can hold six passengers, glided to a landing on a runway safely with its two pilots.
The approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) comes at a critical time for Branson as his space venture faces competition from Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
“Today’s approval by the FAA...give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer,” Virgin Galactic Chief Executive Officer Michael Colglazier said in a statement.
Virgin Galactic has about 600 people who have paid deposits and are waiting to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth at a cost of $250,000 each.
The craft will take off from a dedicated spaceport in the New Mexico desert in the US.
Branson is expected to take one of the flights this summer.


PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance

PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance
Updated 25 June 2021

PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance

PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance
  • Rania Nashar was a senior advisor to the governor since January

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) said it appointed Rania Nashar, former CEO of Samba Financial Group, as its head of compliance and governance, Al Arabiya reported.

Nashar joined the fund as a senior adviser to its governor, Yasir Al Rumayyan, in January of this year. She brings with her more than two decades of experience in the banking sector.

PIF recently announced the appointment of Eyas Al-Dossari and Omar Al-Madhi as senior directors to its MENA investments division, and Abdullah Shaker as senior director to its Global Capital Finance Division.

The fund said this month that it had created the position of deputy governor to support the fund’s continued growth and expansion.

Saudi Arabia’s $430 billion PIF is one of the largest and most influential sovereign wealth funds in the world, and the main driver that supports the economic transformation of the Kingdom in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.

PIF has increased its employees from 40 in 2016 to more than 1,100 employees today.


Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA

Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA
Updated 25 June 2021

Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA

Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA
  • The new lenders will rank 12th and 13th in the Kingdom in terms of capital

RIYADH: Digital banks licensed in Saudi Arabia will help improve the quality and user experience for customers in the Kingdom, supporting innovation and reducing costs, said Yazeed Alsheikh, director for general of banking control at Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).

This will directly contribute to stimulating competition with local banks and financial technology companies, he told Al Eqtisadiah paper.

The Saudi Cabinet gave its nod to the Kingdom’s finance minister to issue licenses for the country’s first digital banks, STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

STC Pay will be converted into a local digital bank, STC Bank, with capital of SR2.5 billion. A second lender, Saudi Digital Bank, will be formed by investors led by Abdul Rahman bin Saad Al-Rashed and Sons Company with capital of SR1.5 billion.

There is a difference between financial technology companies and digital banks, Alsheikh said.

“The financial technology companies are based mainly on innovation in the use of technology for a specific activity, and providing a specific financial product or service to the target segment of beneficiaries, through digital platforms or smart applications,” Al Sheikh said.

“Digital banks’ concept is broader and more comprehensive in providing Integrated banking products and services, such as accepting deposits, financing and other banking services through digital channels exclusively, and have different regulatory and supervisory requirements,” he said.

The two new digital banks in Saudi Arabia will rank 12th and 13th among the national banks operating in the Kingdom in terms of capital, once they obtain the final license to operate.


Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021
Updated 25 June 2021

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021
  • Cases investigated rises to 86 in 2021 from 55 in 2020
  • Value of cases more than SR1 billion

RIYADH: Cases of suspected collusion in tenders being investigated by the Saudi General Authority for Competition (GAC) rose to 86 in 2021, up from 55 last year and 15 in 2019, Al Arabiya reported.

The value of projects being investigated in the Kingdom amounted to more than SR1 billion ($267 million), Abdulaziz Alzoom, governor of GAC, said in a statement.

In a previous statement, GAC said it had started investigations, research and gathering of evidence with a number of establishments, based on communications it had received from other authorities, and complaints from individuals and companies.