Kuwait: NBK Banque Privée Suisse Relocates to a New Headquarters in Geneva30.03.2023
NBK Banque Privée Suisse announced that it has relocated to a new headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in a strategic move towards expanding its investment and wealth management services, while also broadening its reach in the world’s leading financial and business centers.
The inauguration of the new headquarters was attended by Mr. Isam Al-Sager, Vice Chairman and Group CEO at National Bank of Kuwait, Mr. Faisal Al-Hamad, CEO - Global Wealth Management at National Bank of Kuwait , and Mr. Malek Khalife, Deputy CEO, Head of Global Private Banking at National Bank of Kuwait and General Manager of NBK Swiss, as well as members of the Board of Directors and bank employees in Switzerland.
The new headquarters is situated in the bustling city of Geneva, at the core of one of Europe's most vibrant and dynamic cities, featuring state-of-the-art and sustainable infrastructure, which provides an excellent business and customer environment.
The relocation to this new headquarters demonstrates NBK’s commitment to invest in the future. It enables the Bank to cater to the evolving needs of its growing clientele by increasing the number of specialized employees in investment and wealth management, along with offering innovative financial products and services to help customers achieve their financial goals.
NBK Banque Privée Suisse S.A. provides banking and investment services to individuals and institutions from the GCC. The bank offers international investment portfolio management services tailored to the specific investment needs and preferences of individual and corporate clients. It also provides personal banking services and expert banking and investment advice. The investment portfolios managed by the bank consist of private portfolios, international stocks and bonds, as well as other types of investment products.
Since its inception in 1984 as NBK Finance, the Swiss entity has maintained a strong presence in Geneva, serving high-net-worth individuals with top-notch asset management services. Over the course of almost four decades, the bank has established itself as a leading provider in the field.
In 1999, NBK Finance acquired a Swiss banking services license and rebranded as NBK Swiss, establishing itself as a fully independent entity that adheres to Swiss laws and regulations. This enables the bank to enjoy all the privileges of a Swiss bank, including complete confidentiality and security.
In 2006, NBK Swiss rebranded as NBK Banque Privée Suisse S.A., signifying its Swiss roots and its focus on providing exclusive private banking services.
NBK Group is distinguished by its local and global reach, with a network of 138 branches and subsidiaries spread across four continents, including seven countries in the MENA region. The Group boasts a global wealth management platform that integrates private banking and asset management, managing a total of over USD 17 billion in assets, reflecting its strong brand name and ability to attract high-net-worth clients not only in Kuwait, but also from around the world.
Kuwait: NBK Reports KD 134.2 Million in Net Profit for the First 3 Months of 202318.04.2023
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has announced its financial results for the three-month period ended 31 March 2023.The Bank reported a net profit of KD 134.2 million (USD 437.8 million), compared to KD 116.6 million ($380.3 million) for the corresponding period in 2022, improving by 15.1% year-on-year.
Total assets as of the end of March 2023 grew by 8.2% year-on-year to reach KD 36.5 billion (USD 118.9 billion), whereas total loans and advances increased by 5.7% year-on-year to KD 21.2 billion (USD 69.1 billion), while shareholders’ equity reached KD 3.5 billion (USD 11.5 billion), growing by 3.5% year-on-year.
Commenting on the bank’s 1Q2023 financial results, Mr. Hamad Al-Bahar, NBK Group Chairman, said: “NBK delivered as strong performance in the first quarter of 2023, building on the momentum of our exceptional performance in 2022, despite the challenging global economic environment, including geopolitical tensions, persistent inflation and the banking crisis in Europe and the United States”.
Al-Bahar highlighted that NBK's balance sheet is robust, with a solid and stable capital base, supporting the Bank's ability to meet the expanding customer needs while maximizing shareholder returns. He added that in 2023, NBK would continue to invest strategically in its people, and its digital capabilities to ensure the bank's future success.
Al-Bahar also emphasised NBK's unwavering dedication to sustainability, which enhances prospects for long-term growth and reinforces the Bank's position as a leader in the region. He noted that NBK is actively implementing various initiatives that promote responsible business practices and contribute to the sustainable development of Kuwait's economy. One of the Bank's recent endeavors in this regard was joining the United Nations Global Compact, the world's largest corporate initiative advancing sustainable and socially responsible business practices.
Meanwhile, Mr. Isam J. Al-Sager, NBK Group Vice Chairman and CEO, said: “We saw a robust start into 2023 marked by substantial increases in both revenue and profit, sustained exceptional operational performance across our business, and ongoing advantages derived from our diverse business model and strategic investments in talents and technologies.”
Despite the political volatility in Kuwait, Al-Sager pointed out that the operating environment remained stable during the first quarter of 2023.
He emphasized the impressive performance of NBK's core business activities during the current quarter, as well as significant advancements in strategic segments such as wealth management, underlining that the bank's success is built upon a foundation of prudent risk management and a steadfast commitment to maintaining high credit quality. Al-Sager also reaffirmed that these strengths will be leveraged to drive value and growth throughout 2023, as NBK remains dedicated to creating added value for its shareholders.
“During the first quarter of the year, the drivers of operational activities continued to demonstrate positive progress, and higher interest rates played a significant role in the robust growth of net interest income,” Al-Sager confirmed.
“The group's net operating revenues rose by 18.4% year-on-year, reaching KD 277.9 million (USD 906.4 million), driven by overall revenue improvement stemming from the diversified revenue stream across various business sectors,” Al-Sager added.
“In 2023, our focus remains on investing in the future, with a strategic emphasis on enhancing our digital capabilities to provide unparalleled experience to our clients. This includes the development of innovative products and solutions aimed at making banking easier and more convenient for consumers, in order to meet their evolving demands,” Al-Sager noted.
“Our consistent track record of delivering long-term results speaks for itself, and we remain committed to enhancing operational efficiency and maintaining prudent capital management practices. This strategic focus ensures that we are well-prepared to navigate any potential scenarios in the global economy,” Al-Sager confirmed.
“Leveraging our robust balance sheet, we are well-positioned to continue to evolve into the bank of the future, delivering value to our customers, communities, and shareholders. With the support of our solid financial position, strong capitalization rates, and ample liquidity levels, we are positioned for sustained earnings growth.” Al-Sager explained.
“We, at NBK, take pride in our meaningful contributions to our communities and the significant progress we have made in advancing sustainability across our operations and corporate culture through various initiatives. This includes our commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and reduce operational emissions by 25% by 2025, as we continue to strengthen the pillars of sustainability across our organization,” Al-Sager confirmed.
Al-Sager pointed out that NBK has recently received a score of ‘C’ from CDP, a global non-profit that runs the world’s leading environmental disclosure platform, for its Climate Change and Forests 2022 Categories.
“As pioneers in our industry, we recognize the importance of setting an example of responsible leadership that drives long-term growth. We believe that our commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices is crucial in contributing to a better future, and we strive to lead by example in our pursuit of sustainable growth,” Al-Sager concluded.
Key financial indicators for 1Q2023
• Net operating income of KD 277.9 million (USD 906.4 million), up 18.4% year-on-year
• Total assets grew by 8.2% year-on-year, at KD 36.5 billion (USD 118.9 billion)
• Customer loans and advances grew by 5.7% year-on-year to KD 21.2 billion (USD 69.1 billion)
• Customer deposits increased by 11.6% year-on-year to KD 20.4 billion (USD 66.7 billion)
• Strong asset quality metrics, with NPL/gross loans ratio at 1.55% and an NPL coverage ratio of 245%
• Robust Capital Adequacy Ratio of 17.1%, comfortably in excess of regulatory requirements
Kuwait: NBK’s AGM Approved All BOD’s Recommendations19.03.2023
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) held yesterday, Saturday, 18 March 2023, its Annual General Meeting (AGM) for 2022 with a quorum of 71.47%. The AGM approved the Board of Directors’ recommendation to distribute 25% cash dividend to shareholders (25 fils per share) for the second half of the financial year, bringing the total cash dividend distributions to 35% (35 fils per share). Moreover, the AGM also approved the distribution of 5% bonus shares (5 shares for every 100 shares owned).
Mr. Hammad Al-Bahar, NBK Group Chairman, delivered his speech to attendees of the AGM and reported that in 2022, NBK achieved exceptional results thanks to its geographical diversification, digital excellence, and solid financial position. “Our constant revenue growth can be attributed to those essential components and our consistent adherence to prudent policies over the years. This is evident in the exceptional quality of our assets and our strong capitalization.," Al-Bahar said.
Al-Bahar highlighted that NBK's stellar financial results were founded on the Group’s strategies built upon striking a balance between long-term investments and meeting current financial commitments, to overcome today’s challenging economic environment.
“The Board of Directors has recommended the distribution of over half of the Bank's profits for this year. This decision signifies that our commitment extends beyond generating wealth for our shareholders, and demonstrates our desire to reinvest our earnings into various sectors of the economy, maximizing the benefits for a wider range of stakeholders and positively impacting the national economy,” Al-Bahar added.
He explained that these distributions were consistent with the Group’s long standing cash distribution policies. Over the past ten years, NBK distributed KD 1.8 billion in cash dividend, in addition to KD 3.2 billion in bonus shares.
“Over the years, we have increased investments behind NBK brand and sustained our leadership among the top five banking brand names in the region,” Al-Bahar confirmed.
Al-Bahar stated that 2022 marked a transition in the Group’s sustainability journey, re-imagining its focus to proactively embed ESG across all operations. “The Group’s new ESG strategy is designed to reinforce what it means for us to be a trusted leader in this dynamic world,” Al-Bahar said.
“Our strategy focuses on promoting economic prosperity and serving as a model for sustainable development, aligned with the dynamic market conditions and our stakeholders’ expectations,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Isam J. Al-Sager, NBK Group Vice Chairman and CEO, outlined in his speech that in 2022, NBK recorded the highest profits in its 70-year history, owing to strong operational and financial performance, confirming the resilience of its business model and successful strategy in promoting sustainable growth.
“This year, the Group recorded net profits of KD 509.1 million, up 40.5% year-on-year, as we continued to further solidify our financial growth trajectory, with total assets growing by 9.3% year-on-year to reach KD 36.3 billion, thanks to the accelerated growth of our credit and investment portfolios. In the meantime, we maintained the highest asset quality, keeping the Bank’s ratio of non-performing loans to gross loans at 1.42%, while the loan loss coverage ratio stood at 267%, reflecting the conservative provisioning policy of the Group, while maintaining a capital adequacy ratio of 17.4%, way above the minimum regulatory requirements,” Al-Sager said.
Al-Sager pointed out that the global economic scene in 2022 was progressively unwelcoming as economic issues began to emerge. Several shocks have hit a world economy already weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a worse-than-expected slowdown in China, geopolitical tensions caused by the Ukraine war, and higher-than-expected global inflation in the developed world that reached historical highs, unabated by the tight monetary policy stance.
“Despite those challenges, the orderly implementation of NBK's strategic objectives has paved the way for consistent and long-term profitability. Our diversification strategy, balanced business model and our commitment to a disciplined approach to risk management demonstrate our ability to thrive throughout various economic cycles,” Al-Sager stated.
Al-Sager emphasized that among the Bank's most essential strategic objectives is to maintain NBK’s leadership and excellence in providing digital banking services. “We prioritize the integration of digital innovation into all of the Group's business operations to provide the latest banking solutions with utmost flexibility and efficiency,” Al-Sager explained.
Al-Sager also stated that these efforts culminated in the launch of the new and improved NBK Mobile Banking App. In the meantime, Kuwait's first digital bank, "Weyay," is attracting new customers at exceptional rates, while "SmartWealth," launched in partnership with NBK Capital, offers a variety of investment solutions.
“In 2022, NBK received 13 digital awards from Global Finance, including five regional designations, in addition to being recognised as the best Financial Innovation Lab, while Weyay received the “Outstanding Innovation in Mobile Banking” Award for 2022,” Al-Sager said.
“We continue to expand our international operations, by targeting continued growth and increasing our share in our core markets. In addition, we have made investments in our wealth management operations to facilitate growth. Our global wealth management platform offers a comprehensive range of solutions designed to achieve long-term investment goals while enriching customer experiences and growing their wealth,” Al-Sager added.
“In line with our leading role in supporting national economy, we aligned our strategic goals with Kuwait National Development Plan (KNDP) and continued to provide the required financing for mega projects. Since the launch of the government’s “Vision 2035”, NBK played a key role in advancing the development agenda, as we continued to lend our diverse expertise to support the State’s strategic directives, particularly in the area of digital transformation,” Al-Sager noted.
Al-Sager also highlighted that the Group’s strategic focus is to maintain its leadership and excellence in providing the latest digital banking services, with the Bank continuing to engrain digital innovation into all of its operations and provide the most up-to-date banking solutions to ensure unparalleled flexibility and efficiency.
“We launched our Sustainable Financing Framework and continued to disclose the environmental impact of our operations through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), receiving a score of ‘C’, one of the highest scores in the GCC. We are also the only financial institution that submitted this disclosure in Kuwait, further solidifying our commitment to continue improving our environmental performance and accelerating our transition towards a low carbon economy and net zero emissions,” Al-Sager confirmed.
Last year, NBK announced its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2060 to support Kuwait's strategic initiative to drive environmental and socio-economic prosperity.
“Moving forward, we will continue to implement our successful business model, which focuses on maximizing value for all stakeholders. We will continue to prioritize achieving sustainable growth, making strategic investments, enhancing our contributions to the transition to a low-carbon economy, providing innovative products and services, expanding our digital capabilities, promoting equality and community development, and maintaining our leadership role in effectively contributing to the development of Kuwait’s economy,” Al-Sager concluded.
On the sidelines of the AGM, Ms. Shaikha K. Al-Bahar, NBK Deputy Group CEO highlighted that NBK's performance last year reflected the Group’s diverse business model and prudent approach to risk management, as well as the significant progress in executing its customer-centric strategy.
Al-Bahar emphasised that throughout 2022, NBK continued to build positive momentum across various business pillars, including achieving strong levels of capitalization and high credit quality, as well as strengthening the Bank's relationships with its customers, thereby increasing the volume of its operations, adding that these factors will strengthen the Group's performance going into 2023 and will create long-term added value for all shareholders.
“Throughout 2022, NBK prioritized expanding its business activities to cater to a wide range of customers while also improving the quality of its service. Moreover, the Bank placed emphasis on enhancing customers’ experiences, as it is a crucial element in helping customers achieve their financial,” Al-Bahar said.
Al-Bahar indicated that NBK's aims to maintain its commitment to providing an unparalleled banking experience while operating at maximum efficiency. To achieve this goal, the Bank plans to expand its market share by offering customers a wider range of financial alternatives and value-added services.
Al-Bahar explained that during the past year alone, NBK added over 84,000 new customers to its network in Kuwait, including its digital channels.
She also highlighted that to create added value for all stakeholders, NBK has adopted a balanced approach to increasing revenue from various sources. The Group aims to improve its profitability by maintaining its leading position in core business activities while expanding non-core business activities to enhance profitability.
Al-Bahar outlined that in 2022 the International Banking Group (IBG) delivered a robust and flexible performance, as it effectively managed to enhance its balance sheet and optimize profits while maintaining its credit portfolio and financing base diversity.
This approach, according to Al-Bahar, bodes well for NBK's future growth, since international operations and Islamic banking activities contributed significantly to the Group's net operating revenues in 2022, accounting for about 26% and 21%, respectively.
Al-Bahar highlighted that the Group continued to focus on its diversification strategy and strengthened its presence in the global markets through the development of business sectors in the core markets, with a special focus on Egypt and the GCC, stressing that going forward, IBG will focus on cross-selling opportunities to achieve group-wide synergy.
“Our Assets under Management (AUM) continue to grow consistently as a result of the good momentum of our inflows, with our primary growth market, KSA, surpassing USD 1 billion in Assets under Management since inception,” Al-Bahar stated.
Al-Bahar also indicated that NBK has invested in wealth management operations to enhance growth, stating that the global wealth management platform has evolved into a comprehensive set of wealth management solutions to achieve long-term sustainable investment goals through a strategy focused on enriching customer experiences and growing their wealth sustainably.
Al-Bahar affirmed that NBK is committed to enhancing its digital capabilities to deliver an exceptional and unparalleled banking experience to its customers. This involves offering cutting-edge financial solutions, introducing new banking services, and continuously updating the NBK Mobile App, which is regarded as one of the top banking applications in the industry. Moreover, the Bank utilizes data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning in various products and services to optimize customer engagement and provide a personalized experience that surpasses their expectations.
Al-Bahar also pointed out that NBK plans to make significant investments in cultivating its digital culture to enhance operational efficiency, elevate customer experiences, and deliver a cutting-edge digital banking experience. These factors will help maintain the Group's reputation for excellence and its competitive advantage in the dynamic FinTech landscape.
Al-Bahar highlighted that NBK launched NBK RISE—a women-led leadership initiative designed by women for women - to bring together corporate entities and female executives to elevate women in the regional and international workplace. “We have come a long way in promoting women’s empowerment and raising female labor force participation,” Al-Bahar said.
Al-Bahar also highlighted NBK’s efforts to attract and retain female talent. As a result, NBK has achieved a women participation rate of 43.6% and increased the number of women in management to 29.2%. These efforts include various initiatives and advanced training programs to support and empower women.
Following the AGM, Mr. Salah Y. Al-Fulaij, Chief Executive Officer - Kuwait, stated that the business environment in Kuwait has greatly improved as business activities have normalized and post-pandemic pent-up demand has continued to support consumer spending, in addition to higher oil prices, which have boosted business confidence and positively reflected on credit growth.
"NBK maintained its digital dominance over its peers, as evidenced by the rapid growth in NBK Mobile Banking customers, as it accounted for 64% of total NBK Mobile Banking users," Al-Fulaij said, citing the Personal Banking Services Group's success in capitalizing on the momentum of consumer spending and operations throughout the year, as well as following a strategy that takes into account offering ample choice to customers to choose from an array of products and services that suit their needs and lifestyles.
Speaking of Weyay Bank, Kuwait's first and only digital bank, Al-Fulaij noted that it successfully extended its reach to a broad population of youth, with the bank's clients tripling in 2022 compared to earlier forecasts at the time of its inception. He said that "Weyay" is a key pillar in NBK's goal to preserve its digital leadership by offering new solutions that cater to the lifestyles of the younger client base while effectively competing with growing FinTech disruptors.
Al-Fulaij explained that despite challenging market conditions, the Corporate Banking Services Group has remained committed to supporting its clients and enhancing its strategic relationships, with a focus on improving client experiences and leveraging its capabilities to deliver the best financial solutions possible. The Corporate Banking Relationship Model has proven successful in maintaining NBK’s position as Kuwait's leading corporate bank.
“The Group successfully managed to capture new business opportunities in numerous industries, particularly oil and gas, as the industry started to witness some consistent growth toward the end of 2022 on the back of higher oil prices,” Al-Fulaij noted.
“With the persistent supply chain bottlenecks and the unprecedented rise in global inflation, smart management of cash and treasury systems has become more important than ever. The Treasury Group continued to improve its technologies and infrastructure to reduce costs while providing the best services to its customers. Furthermore, the development of the Treasury Group's strong digital foundation has allowed NBK to manage liquidity more efficiently and accurately, as well as hedge against the risks of foreign exchange exposure. As a result of these efforts, the Group was crowned Kuwait's Best Bank for Treasury and Cash Management,” Al-Fulaij added.
A Role Model
The year 2022 was a milestone for CSR excellence, as NBK’s initiatives gained momentum, expanding the number of activities, their nature, and the sectors they cover. This was further reinforced by increasing the value of NBK’s investments, initiatives, and charitable donations during the year, which stood at KD 23 million, up by more than 45% year-on-year. Throughout the year, NBK launched and sponsored various CSR programs with a special focus on health care and education. Last year, NBK generously donated KD 13 million to add a new extension to NBK Children's Hospital. It also launched "Bankee" financial literacy program in schools to support the education system and improve students' academic achievement.
Al-Fulaij expressed appreciation for NBK's employees and their dedication, recognizing them as a key factor in NBK’s success. “NBK's exceptional operational and financial performance would not have been possible without the support and devotion of our highly skilled human capital, which is one of the most significant contributors to our success,” Al-Fulaij said.
The Human Resources Department has continued to establish the groundwork for a positive work environment, paving the way for employees to provide their best work, devote more effort, and increase their innovation. In 2022, the Group spent KD 1.2 million and provided 21,000 hours of training and development to its people. This is a significant increase over last year's average. Despite fierce competition for talent across all sectors of the labor market, we were able to recruit the top national talents and hired around 260 Kuwaiti employees last year.
Dominant Market Share
Al-Fulaij indicated that NBK continued to drive its labor nationalization efforts, which was highly recognized as it received “The Job Replacement and Nationalization Award”, a prestigious regional recognition by the Committee of the GCC Ministers of Social Affairs.
“Looking ahead to 2023, we aim to sustain our dominant position in corporate finance, reinforce our digital capabilities, and transfer our digital knowledge to our international branches. Strengthening our partnerships with strategic allies, particularly in the oil and gas industry, remains a priority as we strive to maintain our reputation as the preferred bank for financing public projects, and as the "house" bank for lending to KPC and its subsidiaries as we continue to maximize the benefits of infrastructure financing in Kuwait. Meanwhile, our focus on retail banking includes defending our market share through exceptional customer experiences and cutting-edge products and services,” Al-Fulaij concluded.
Kuwait: Al-Bahar: Women in Kuwait Have Long Been Acknowledged as Pioneers, But There is Much Progress to Be Made12.02.2023
Forbes Middle East has unveiled its annual list of the region’s Most Powerful Businesswomen – 2023. Ms. Shaikha Al-Bahar, Group Deputy CEO at National Bank of Kuwait topped the list of the most powerful businesswomen in Kuwait and ranked 4 in the Middle East for 2023, owing to her outstanding career in the banking industry and her leading role in promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
In a recent interview with the magazine, Shaikha Al-Bahar talked about the fundamental pillars driving NBK’s growth and detailed some of the CSR efforts she manages, as well as offering a glimpse into her successful professional path.
Commenting on NBK’s solid financial results in 2022 and her outlook on future performance, Al-Bahar said that NBK is optimistic that the positive trend will continue in its financials, driven by diversification and digitization, an improving operational environment, higher oil prices, and a lower cost of risk.
When asked about future expansions, Al-Bahar responded that NBK is present in 13 countries and has no current plans to expand geographically, adding: “Currently, the focus is on our existing markets, but we are open to any opportunity, and inorganic growth is still on the table if an opportunity having synergy with our strategy arise”.
Al-Bahar also talked about NBK’s digital transformation, saying that the Bank’s headquarters house a digital lab focused on conducting market research and scouting the global Fintech market for new ideas as well as developing its own product solutions. The Bank uses data analytics, RPA, and machine learning in its operations.
As for Kuwait Development Plan, Al-Bahar sees that “The focus was on Vision 2035, so the core of it is to have the government as regulator, policy-maker, and allow the private sector to handle operations. They are building bridges, establishing companies, creating jobs, but they have to go to the private sector to build more efficiency.”
“We learned from experience that disruption is bound to happen, so we decided to lead the change. We started from scratch and built from the ground up. We delivered the digital bank in just 12 months. We will, of course, be eager to have this digital bank contributing to the bottom line,” Al-Bahar said.
Al-Bahar also described Bankee education program saying that it gives the participants the culture of how to save rather than keep spending.
On the asset and wealth management front, Al-Bahar said: “Most banks focus on pushing clients to spending, spending, spending, and banks keep lending, lending, lending, but our Smart Wealth is giving clients the opportunity to start saving. This is really a very ambitious plan for digital banking, and we are really happy with the outcomes.”
“NBK has embedded its mobile banking options with its investment arm, Smart Wealth, which enables customers to also access investment services in-app, such as transferring funds and viewing their portfolios,” Al-Bahar added.
Al-Bahar highlighted that NBK established NBK RISE—a women-led leadership initiative designed by women for women to bring together corporate entities and female executives to elevate women in the workforce. Participant companies signed an NBK RISE Pledge to increase women’s representation in leadership positions.
“Female executives provide a greater degree of creative thinking, and companies with more female representation engage more with social causes. Companies with a greater proportion of female executives and board members have been shown to score higher at social responsibility, corporate governance, and transparency,” Al-Bahar confirmed.
“I always take things very passionately. Women in Kuwait have long been acknowledged as pioneers, it’s not just recently, but there is much progress to be made. In my opinion, the two most glaring challenges are the proportion of women in leadership roles within the financial industry and closing the gender gap, mainly in wages,” Al-Bahar noted.
A New Approach to Greatness
Forbes demonstrated the magnitude of Ms. Sheikha Al-Bahar's hard work and sacrifices throughout her professional journey. As she was building her career, Al-Bahar worked very hard with full dedications & passion, 24/7and getting herself outside her comfort zone. This helped her a lot in differentiating herself. Working for late hours. Working on one of Kuwait’s first BOT projects—she was in the office until 5 am to close the deal. Al-Bahar described working on that project, saying: “I went home, I got orange juice, I took a bath, and I went back to the office at 6:30 a.m.”
“I love to put myself under pressure; I am a workaholic,” Al-Bahar added.
“I was very curious and eager to learn. I wasn’t going to settle for a routine job. I continued to ask questions, learn, and grow, never accepting any limitations to what I could do, and this opened the sky for me,”
Describing her unique professional path, Al-Bahar said: “Each success story has its own unique twists and turns, but there are thematic necessities to success. Cultivating a positive attitude, honoring my values, and playing to my strengths have propelled my career”.
“Now I spend more time on strategy, building teams, succession planning and investing in people. This will give me time to deliver the Group’s strong aspiration of growth and not doing the nitty gritty; however meeting with groups and leaders to discuss the performance as per the plan,” Al-Bahar said, describing her main focus at this junction of her professional path.
“A career in our field is not a smooth upward trajectory. I chose to have a different approach where I had to double the work to prove myself,” Al-Bahar added.
“My dream is to be part of a non-profit organization to help the community, with a focus on education. This is really my dream. I want to be part of the change,” Al-Bahar concluded.
Kuwait: NBK Joins the United Nations Global Compact09.02.2023
National Bank of Kuwait announced that it has joined the United Nations Global Compact, the world's largest corporate initiative advancing sustainable and socially responsible business practices, as the Bank continues to lead responsible practices that drive Kuwait’s sustainable economic development.
Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact was initiated to encourage businesses to adopt a responsible approach and align their strategies and operations with the most significant global challenges by upholding the Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment, and anti-corruption.
“Joining the United Nations Global Compact demonstrates NBK’s commitment to delivering long-term added value to all stakeholders, the society and future generations,” said Isam Al-Sager, Vice Chairman and Group CEO.
“NBK firmly believes that businesses can shape a better future. By joining the initiative, we demonstrate our commitment to responsible and sustainable business practices,” Al-Sager added.
Al-Sager emphasized that as a leading bank, NBK recognizes the importance of demonstrating responsible leadership to drive sustainable growth.
Furthermore, Al-Sager pointed out that within the UN Global Compact framework, NBK would disclose its progress in implementing the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact and engage in a dialogue with its stakeholders on topics pertaining to sustainability and responsible business practices. The Compact presents a great opportunity for companies and organizations that have a similar vision to collaborate, exchange ideas, and promote best practices in order to positively impact their societies and the environment.
"We are proud of the progress we have made in our journey to engrain the foundation of sustainability in our operations and corporate culture through numerous initiatives, including our pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and reduce operational emissions by 25% by 2025. We also launched our Sustainable Financing Framework and continued to disclose the environmental impact of our operations through the Carbon Disclosure Project" (CDP)”.
"NBK has made substantial progress in terms of women's representation in the workforce and their participation in various boards and committees throughout the Group,” Al-Sager concluded.
Highlights of NBK’s key milestones in its journey to sustainable growth
• Committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.
• Joined the United Nations Global Compact.
• Set targets to reduce operational emissions by 25% by 2025.
• Launched its Sustainable Financing Framework.
• Achieved significant progress in women's participation in the workforce, as well as their representation on various boards.
• Continued to disclose the environmental impact of its operations through the CDP.
“We encourage you to visit our profile on the UN Global Compact website and learn more about our latest sustainability work. National Bank of Kuwait | UN Global Compact “
Kuwait: NBK Donates KD 1 Million to Support KRCS’ Relief of Quake-affected People in Turkey and Syria08.02.2023
Reflecting its consistent support of civil society’s endeavors to provide relief and humanitarian aid to the fraternal peoples, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) donated KD 1 million to the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS), to support its efforts to extend urgent aid to those affected by the earthquake that has struck Turkey and Syria.
NBK’s donation will be directed to support the KRCS’ efforts to secure the urgent needs of those affected in the earthquake-stricken areas in Turkey and Syria.
The donation comes in line with NBK’s CSR commitment to supporting all humanitarian initiatives, civil society efforts and relief activities.
Following the crisis, NBK promptly contacted the KRCS to provide the necessary support for their relief efforts to alleviate the suffering of those affected in the earthquake-stricken areas.
NBK’s donation to the KRCS comes in continuation of its support of all civil society’s initiatives, inside and outside Kuwait, which reflect the civilized, humanitarian image of Kuwait, and demonstrate the spirit of human solidarity of the Kuwaiti people.
In this context, NBK praises the KRCS’ relief efforts extended to people affected by crises and disasters, and its outstanding humanitarian contributions around the world, especially in countries suffering from emergency crises requiring urgent aid, as well as areas where refugees suffer the scourge of wars and conflicts.
NBK is proud and supportive of the relentless efforts of the KRCS, being one of the oldest societies in the humanitarian and charitable field, in addition to its contributions in providing relief in many countries around the world.
It is worth mentioning that National Bank of Kuwait is a strategic partner of the Kuwait Red Crescent Society in a large number of charitable campaigns and initiatives inside Kuwait, including winter supplies campaign, annual education campaign for the most vulnerable students, as well as child-focused social welfare programs.
NBK continues collaboration with charitable societies and cooperation with many civil society players, as well as commitment to support purposeful CSR programs in the areas healthcare, childcare, in addition to social, environmental, sports and awareness, cementing its leading position as the largest CSR contributor in Kuwait.
Kuwait: NBK Reports KD 509.1 Million in Net Profits for the Year 202230.01.2023
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) released its results for the twelve months period ended December 31, 2022. The Bank recorded a net profit of KD 509.1 million (USD 1.7 billion), up 40.5% year-on-year from KD 362.2 million (USD 1.2 billion) in the corresponding period of 2021.
As of the end of December 2022, total assets grew by 9.3% year-on-year to reach KD 36.3 billion (USD 118.6 billion), whereas customer deposits surged by 10.4% to reach KD 20.2 billion (USD 65.9 billion). Meanwhile, total loans and advances stood at KD 21.0 billion (USD 68.6 billion), up by 6.5% year-on-year, while shareholders’ equity reached KD 3.4 billion (USD 11.2 billion), growing by 3.3% year-on-year.
In terms of distributions, the Board of Directors proposed a cash dividend of 25 fils per share for the second half of 2022, bringing the total cash dividends for the year to 35 fils, representing 52% of profits attributable. The Board of Directors also proposed the distribution of 5% bonus shares (5 shares for every 100 shares owned). The proposed cash dividend distribution and bonus shares are subject to approval by the Annual General Assembly, which will be scheduled during March 2023.
Earnings per share (EPS) stood at 65 fils per share at the end of the year, compared to 45 fils at the end of 2021.
Mr. Hamad Al-Bahar, Group Chairman commented on the financial results: “In a milestone year marking our seventieth anniversary, NBK reported historical results in 2022. As Kuwait’s first national bank, we established a solid foundation since inception and pioneered in promoting national economic development. NBK played a key role in empowering businesses across all sectors while also serving as an industry leader in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)”.
“We are proud to have achieved the highest annual profits in the Bank's history; driven by solid operational performance across all business segments, reflecting the soundness of our prudent strategy and solid financial position”, Al-Bahar continued.
NBK record earnings enable the bank’s efforts to support the economy, employ local talents, and boost community investments.
“Over the course of the year, new challenges emerged, including geopolitical tensions in Europe in the wake of the war in Ukraine, as well as tightened monetary policies pursued by most central banks around the world in a bid to curb high inflation, which threatens a global economic slowdown in 2023. Nonetheless, NBK rose above those challenges, thanks to its prudent risk management approach and diversification strategy” Al-Bahar highlighted.
The Board of Directors' recommendation to distribute more than half of the Bank’s profits reflects the bank’s internal capital generation capacity allowing it to maintain a lucrative dividend policy creating shareholders’ value, while preserving healthy capital buffers. Total cash dividends distributed over the past ten years reached KD 1.8 billion in addition to KD 3.2 billion worth of bonus shares (based on NBK closing share price as of 31 December 2022)" Al-Bahar explained.
"Our commitment extends beyond creating value to our shareholders. We offer cutting edge services to our customers, invest in the development of local talents, and expand our reliance on local suppliers."
Al-Bahar confirmed that 2022 was a year of responsible growth, as the Bank executed remarkable strategies that marked a turning point in its efforts to enhance ESG practices. Moreover, in the early days of 2023, NBK announced its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2060 to support Kuwait's strategic initiative to drive environmental and socio-economic prosperity and the state’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2060. As part of this commitment, the Bank has set interim goals to reduce its gross operational emissions by 25% by 2025. NBK is well-positioned to take the lead in addressing environmental concerns and climate change issues, as well as increasing its contributions to building an equitable and more diversified society.
“As we enter a new decade in NBK's journey, we remain committed to driving sustainable growth, supporting economic development, and creating the greatest possible added-value for all stakeholders; in the course of establishing the highest and best standard of banking services in Kuwait and the region." Al-Bahar concluded.
Meanwhile, Mr. Isam Al-Sager, Vice Chairman and Group CEO, said: “We are extremely pleased to report record results for 2022, given a challenging global operating environment. This stellar performance is a testament to the resilience of our business model and our ability to capture opportunities while it also reflects positively on our solid foundation that we continue to nurture to overcome challenges and drive sustainable growth.”
Al-Sager highlighted that the growth in profits is driven by stronger operational performance; with net operating income exceeding KD 1 billion, up 12.2% year on year. Furthermore, a gradual improvement in the operating environment following a return to business as usual continued to weigh positively on improving cost of risk; affirming NBK's success with its proactive risk management approach over the years.
Al-Sager also stated that the Group's international operations, as well as its Islamic subsidiary, Boubyan Bank, continue to contribute significantly to earnings growth. This asserts the diversification strategy's continued success, particularly with the Group's concentration on growth markets. In 2022, international operations accounted for approximately 26% of overall Group profits, with Islamic banking operations accounting for more than 10%.
"The Group continues to enjoy a healthy financial position, which was further strengthened in 2022 by the growth of our loan portfolio, customer deposits, and total assets, while maintaining high asset quality ratios”, Al-Sager confirmed.
"NBK was very successful in achieving a solid performance in its core banking activities, as the Bank continues to deliver tailored banking products and services to its customers, particularly digital offerings. Furthermore, the Bank was able to maintain its dominant market share in corporate banking and trade finance, as well as enhance the competitiveness of its wealth management platform, through the development of its human capital, operational model, and increasing synergies among the platform's services".
"These services and products empower the business sector and its ability to continue adding economic value, creating jobs, and advancing community development efforts, in addition to our pioneering role as the largest financier of development projects supporting the national economy”, Al-Sager added.
“Our activities and services serve all parts of society due to our dedication to meeting our social responsibilities and our emphasis on strengthening the human element, particularly young local talent, which accounted for 80% of the bank's 325 new recruits this year. The Bank will continue to focus on mentoring and developing the skills of these cadres through different training programs, specifically tailored to accelerate their learning curve. In addition to our efforts to promote school students' financial awareness through the launch of "Bankee" program, NBK Academy recently welcomed the twenty-seventh cohort of university graduates”.
“Meanwhile, we continued to enrich our customers' digital banking experience with a suite of the most innovative services and payment solutions. As the first digital bank in Kuwait, “Weyay” exceeded its customer acquisition targets within the first few months of its launch, as it caters to the financial needs and lifestyle of younger digitally savvy customers”, Al-Sager indicated.
“The year 2022 marks a turning point in our sustainability journey. To reinforce our commitment, we transformed our sustainability strategy in 2022 and launched our new ESG strategy to re-envision our focus on embedding ESG across all our operations and business. During the year, we introduced our Sustainable Financing Framework and increased our transparency by disclosing the environmental impact of our activities through CDP as part of a series of measures aimed at integrating ESG principles in all the Group’s operations. Recognizing our role at the forefront of enabling sustainable economic development, we are also committed to the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy and support the New Kuwait Vision 2035."
“In 2023, we will continue to build on the solid foundations we've established over the past 70 years, providing sustained growth in our revenues and investments to expand our digital capabilities, driving equitable economic development and maintaining our position as a market leader with a notable impact in promoting economic growth.” Al-Sager concluded.
Kuwait: NBK becomes the First Financial Institution in Kuwait to Align with the State’s Pledge to become Carbon Neutral by 206026.01.2023
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) announced today its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2060 to support Kuwait's strategic initiative to drive environmental and socio-economic prosperity. This commitment aligns with the State of Kuwait's recent pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
As part of this commitment, National Bank of Kuwait has set interim goals to reduce its gross operational emissions by 25% by 2025. In 2022, NBK aligned its environmental footprint with the GHG Protocol global framework to reinforce its commitment to placing environmental protection at the heart of its future agenda. This year, CDP acknowledged the Group’s progress toward its environmental objectives in the Financial Services Sector’s Climate Change and Forests Categories. The CDP score affirms the Group’s commitment to continuously improve its environmental performance while contributing to the industry’s efforts to accelerate the transition to a net zero economy. Furthermore, NBK is exploring innovative research and development technologies to magnify its reliance on renewable energy beyond 2025, to reach net zero operationally by 2035.
In keeping with its commitment to play a vital role in the region’s transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy, the Group launched its Sustainable Financing Framework, which has been externally verified with a Second Party Opinion (SPO) by S&P Global to confirm alignment with the ICMA 2021 Green, Social, and Sustainability Bond Principles and Guidelines. Through the Sustainable Financing Framework, the Group strives to respond to the growing demand for sustainable finance and to recognize its responsibility in mobilizing capital to address environmental and social challenges, providing innovative and best-in-class sustainable finance value propositions to assist and enable NBK customers to effectively transition to a carbon-neutral economy.
“Kuwait’s national pledge to carbon neutrality, as a signatory to the Paris Agreement, marks a key milestone in the country’s commitment to transitioning to a low carbon economy”, said Mr. Hamad Al-Bahar, Group Chairman. “We fully support Kuwait’s vision, and we are aligning our carbon neutrality commitment with the country’s ambitions as the leading financial institution in Kuwait, thus creating positive synergies between the private sector and public interests. Moreover, we recognize our role at the forefront of enabling economic development and financing the transition”.
“We have always sought to provide exceptional value to all our stakeholders while embracing social and environmental challenges, reinforcing what it truly means to be a trusted leader. We identified our ESG goals and acknowledged our responsibilities to ingrain ESG in the Group’s DNA. Our sustainability journey has evolved through time to reflect our dedication to aligning with the industry best practices and regulations, and responding to investors’ interests. Our commitment to carbon neutrality builds on our pioneering efforts to integrate ESG into our long-term business strategy and operations”. He added.
“As a leading financial institution in the region, we are actively exploring strategies to assess climate change risks and opportunities, lessen our operational impact on the environment, and engage with our customers, pursuing effective change in the real economy as part of our efforts to accelerate net zero carbon transition. Using this approach, we will build and execute transition strategies, assess decisions, and monitor progress to unlock and capitalize on business opportunities. We are defining what it means to be environmentally responsible and establishing the role that financial institutions must play in enabling the transition to a low carbon economy”. Al-Bahar confirmed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Isam Al-Sager, Vice-Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer, shared his vision on NBK Group's approach to delivering its ambitious market-leading targets across environmental and social themes over the coming years. In 2022, NBK evolved its ESG Strategy from a six-pillar approach to four interrelated pillars supported by ambitious and well-defined targets to promote regional economic prosperity and sustainable development. “Although ESG has long been a key element of our success, the Group’s transformed strategy embeds ESG across all of our operations and business while aligning with the dynamic market conditions and our stakeholders’ expectations.’, Al-Sager said. “We set the standards for sustainable finance in Kuwait’s banking sector by supporting our clients through their own transition through designing and delivering tailored advisory services and providing them with innovative transition finance value propositions. We are convinced that the Group’s plans will only be achieved in partnership with our clients and stakeholders”.
“On the operational front, our redefined approach closely monitors our activities, while exploring new opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint through the adoption of renewable and clean energy solutions”. Al-Sager added. “This commitment underscores NBK’s pioneering efforts in accelerating the adoption of sustainable practices, and resulted in earning a score of “C” for the Group’s disclosure through CDP, making us one of the highest-scoring financial institutions in the GCC and the only financial institution who submitted this disclosure in Kuwait”. Al-Sager concluded.
Through its solid positioning, NBK strives to play a key role in driving sustainable development in the region and has already started developing its interim targets. Furthermore, combining its Carbon Neutrality commitment with accountability and transparency, NBK will be communicating, over the coming 18-24 months, its pathways and scientifically aligned strategic goals to achieve its carbon neutral by 2060 ambition.
Kuwait: NBK Embraces Environmental Transparency by Disclosing through CDP18.01.2023
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) today announced that it has received a score of ‘C’ from CDP, a global non-profit that runs the world’s leading environmental disclosure platform, for its Climate Change and Forests 2022 Categories. This score is consistent with our roadmap to build environmental and socio-economic resilience. NBK furthered its commitment to environmental transparency by disclosing its environmental impact through CDP. NBK initially disclosed through CDP since 2021, and in June 2022 completed its first CDP’s Climate Change and Forests questionnaires.
Disclosing data around environmental impact is now a business norm. More than 680 financial institutions with US$130 trillion in assets and 280 purchasing organizations representing US$6.4 trillion in procurement spend requested environmental data from companies through CDP. A record 18,700+ companies responded in 2022.
NBK has one of the highest score of CDP disclosures among all financial institutions in the GCC and is the only financial institution who submitted this disclosure in Kuwait.
By disclosing through CDP, National Bank of Kuwait is prepared to respond to the increasing demand for environmental transparency from financial institutions, customers, and policymakers. In its disclosure, NBK shared the results of returning to more normal working patterns as employees moved into its new LEED GOLD HQ building and used 2021 as its new environmental performance baseline, to which we will compare our improvements in the coming years. We also shared our continued long-standing practice of annually assessing and reporting our environmental performance, including our energy and water consumption, waste and resource use, and greenhouse gas GHG emissions. Moreover, NBK highlighted how climate change presents risk and opportunities for the organization by examining in detail the best role for the bank to play in supporting our environmental and societal efforts to overcome this challenge and to grow the bank in the wisest pursuit of specific opportunities. NBK’s primary role will be its financing efforts to effectively respond to this challenge and increase its focus on climate change in our risk management processes. Additionally, in its disclosure, NBK transparently covered environmental commitments as a result of its publicly available Sustainable Financing Framework. These assurances included developing internal targets to reduce our gross operational emissions by 25% by the year 2025 and NBK’s ambition to integrate critical ESG issues into the business, culture and operations, thereby advancing the transition to a sustainable and low carbon economy and contributing to achieve Kuwait’s sustainability vision.
On this occasion, Mr. Isam Al-Sager, NBK Group Vice-Chairman and CEO Group, said: “Today, we are witnessing a new milestone in embracing sustainability that we started years back by being listed among the institutions disclosing the environmental impact of their operations through CDP, the world’s leading environmental disclosure platform.”
“This listing furthers NBK’s commitment to adopting greater transparency in disclosing the environmental impact of all its operations. This comes in line with focusing on embedding ESG standards into all its activities and reinforcing its contribution to supporting the transition towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy,” he indicated.
Al-Sager added: “Our listing in the CDP, coupled with the recent launch of our Sustainable Financing Framework, will further strengthen NBK’s accessibility to global capital markets, where it is already highly trusted and respected.”
“We are adamant to continue progressing towards advancing sustainable finance and responsible banking practices at the core of our operations and currently exploring technologies to support our aspiration to become net zero operationally by 2035,” Al-Sager continued.
“We continue to be committed to playing a responsible role in supporting global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change risks. To this end, we have set specific measurable and reportable targets, in line with our endeavors to integrate climate-related considerations in our future business model,” he noted.
On his part, Dexter Galvin, Global Director of Corporations and Supply Chains at CDP, commented, “Another year of extreme weather, including floods, droughts and record temperatures, has shown us that climate change is already posing a real and increasing risk to companies and their supply chains. Companies have a fundamental role to play in securing a sustainable net-zero, deforestation-free and water-secure world. It is only through measuring their environmental impact, risks and opportunities that they can manage them and prepare for the future. By disclosing through CDP, National Bank of Kuwait has taken a vital first step. I look forward to their continued dedication to transparency and action for the benefit of all people and the planet.”
It is worth mentioning that National Bank of Kuwait is one of the leading financial institutions in the region in terms of embracing sustainability practices, with major contributions appreciated by international institutions. This includes receiving the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certificate for its new Headquarters, recognizing the improvement achieved in all measured and reported environmental metrics including reducing GHG emissions, and increasing recycled paper and plastic. NBK was also listed on Refinitiv AFE Low Carbon Select Index in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Furthermore, National Bank of Kuwait is the largest financial institution in Kuwait and has actual predominance in the commercial banking sector. The bank enjoys one of the highest credit ratings among all banks in the region, collectively from global rating agencies: Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch.
CDP is a global non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions. Founded in 2000 and working with more than 680 financial institutions with over $130 trillion in assets, CDP pioneered using capital markets and corporate procurement to motivate companies to disclose their environmental impacts, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Nearly 20,000 organizations around the world disclosed data through CDP in 2022, including more than 18,700 companies worth half of global market capitalization, and over 1,100 cities, states and regions.
The full list of companies disclosing through CDP can be accessed here: