SNB: A regional financial champion
Saudi National Bank (SNB), Saudi Arabia’s newly formed bank, which was the result of the consolidation of National Commercial Bank (NCB) and Samba Financial Group (SAMBA), has recently announced the launch of its brand identity. I still like the old logo of NCB, which for half a century, has been one of the most recognized brands in the region. However, the new identity aims to symbolize a fresh and progressive financial institution that leads by innovation to serve the country’s social and economic development.
My relationship with NCB goes back to the mid-1980s, when I kicked off my banking career as a member of the Investment Management Division. Back then, a new era had started for NCB, as the most progressive Saudi financial institution offering commercial and advanced investment banking services. My office was on the 21st floor of the iconic triangular building, which was the first skyscraper in the region. On the other side, SAMBA, which was led for years by the only female CEO in the country, Rania Nashar, also had its highly visible branded headquarters at the Old Airport Road in Riyadh.
SNB will start a new era for both banks by creating a regional financial powerhouse under the leadership of new CEO and catalyst of the merger, Saeed Al-Ghamdi. I have known Al-Ghamdi for many years and was impressed by his vision and knowledge. During his previous tenure, he was ranked among the top-performing CEOs in the country. The merger with SAMBA is believed to be his initiative after the failure of the merger negotiations with Riyad Bank. I am sure he will be a key factor behind its future success.
In the next few years, we may witness another two or three mergers in the banking sector, but definitely, we will witness far more mergers in the insurance sector.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini
From an integration standpoint, the new bank needs to ensure a seamless transition for customers of both banks to the merged entity, as well as the unification of separate systems. In a typical financial institution merger, each bank will continue to operate separately until the full integration is complete.
SNB will be Saudi Arabia’s largest financial institution, with SR896 billion ($239 billion) in assets and SR127 billion in shareholder equity. Since 2019, the country’s financial sector, mainly banking and insurance, has been going through a consolidation spree. The SNB story is an encouraging success story for other banks to follow. In the next few years, we may witness another two or three mergers in the banking sector, but definitely, we will witness far more mergers in the insurance sector. With our insurance sector focus, where we are advising on the mergers of several insurance companies, we at BMG Financial Group predict to see about 15 insurance companies out of 30 by 2025.
In my opinion, for the newly merged bank to champion, it needs to offer an advanced set of digital banking solutions, financial services to cater for the multiple giga-projects, creative financial solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises — which are the backbone of the economy — and competitive mortgage products to the growing number of young applicants looking to buy homes. SNB has to deliver excellence and a swift and seamless service.
• Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.