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Kuwait: NBK Continues Contributing to Achieve Social Sustainability during 2020 despite the Pandemic


National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) continued during 2020 its social responsibility programs, especially in health and education areas, in order to support community efforts in addressing coronavirus pandemic and to continue its plans for sustainable development.

NBK succeeded in achieving astounding results with regard to its efforts to combat the pandemic on one hand, and maintaining its sustainability achievements on the other hand, through many contributions and initiatives covering various social fronts, particularly the health area.

The year 2020 reaffirmed NBK’s resistance in the face of crises, as the bank was committed to achieve sustainable development goals despite the pandemic, emphasizing the bank’s recognition of the dire need to work more than ever before for achieving sustainable development.

Community Engagement during COVID-19

Health Sector

KD 1 Million Donation to Provide Ventilators and Mobile Clinics
NBK donated KD 1 million to Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) as part of its humanitarian and social role to support in Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response. NBK’s donation will be directed to support Kuwait Red Crescent Society’s efforts to purchase ventilators and the deployment of fully equipped mobile clinics to quarantined areas.

This donation comes as part of the bank’s commitment to social responsibility in supporting all efforts to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic, and underscores its constant support to voluntary and relief initiatives.

Employee Healthcare Program

NBK launched a special healthcare program for its employees starting from last June, which will continue to organize it, as part of its continuous efforts to preserve the mental and physical health of employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

To date, the bank launched, within this program, more than twelve health campaigns, directed to the healthy and patients, including General Health Campaign at the Times Of Pandemic, Family Health Campaign, Heart Health Campaign, Mental Health Campaign, Nutrition and Fitness Campaign, Sport and Fitness Campaign, Blood Test Campaign, E-Learning Challenges Awareness Campaign, Physiotherapy Campaign, Breast Cancer Campaign, Diabetes Campaign and Blood Donation Campaign, among others.

The program, in which about 13 physicians from therapists, specialists and consultants are participating so far, covers key areas including mental and general health, nutrition and physical fitness, in addition to physical fitness, in an effort to support the bank’s employees during these exceptional times.

The program provides medical consultations at the bank’s clinic and various online training and advisory sessions presented by certified trainers or specialized doctors, through the bank’s interactive platforms and social media channels.

The program features interactive content and virtual meetings that provide awareness medical consultations and advice by doctors and specialists. It also discusses health topics through online lectures, especially those posing a challenge during the period of fighting the pandemic.

The number of direct interactive sessions with doctors on social media platforms reached 10, while the number of awareness messages reached 200 health messages, and 439 visits from staff to the clinic to consult doctors and specialists.

NBK’s Children Hospital Exceptional Measures

In view of the current exceptional circumstances we are going through, as a result of covid-19 pandemic outbreak, NBK Hospital was quick to take all necessary precautionary measures to protect patients’ health by abiding the highest levels of occupational safety in this regard.

In addition, the hospital implemented many initiatives that ensure that patients receive due treatment and consulting services without being affected by the restrictions of partial and full lockdown during the peak of the pandemic.

In this context, since last March, the bank started to provide urgent reports in Arabic to help the families of patients in cases of emergency or any technical failure, as well as to obtain an official permit from the Ministry of Interior for going out during curfew period.

The hospital also assigned a direct telephone line available around the clock for communication with the patients' parents during that period, and activated all telephone system for all hospital clinics around the clock for checking the health of those who have an appointment in each clinic and providing them with the necessary medical advice.

Furthermore, the hospital provided appointment booking/changing service for outpatient clinics via WhatsApp during working days from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. where a message with patient's information is sent to the hospital, including patient's name, file number, name of the treating doctor, civil ID number, and copy of the transfer to finalize all procedures without the need to come to the hospital.

Stem Cell Transplant

On a related level, the hospital staff succeeded in conducting the first stem cell transplant for a 3-year-old girl, despite the challenging times of the pandemic.  The hospital team made hard efforts to prepare for the surgery, including obtaining and isolating stem cells from the patient, and undergoing surgery to remove the cancerous tumor, in addition to undergoing chemotherapy. This case is considered the first stem cell transplant conducted in Kuwait.

This achievement is the culmination of the efforts of the hospital's team, which includes specialized cadres trained according to the best international standards in providing healthcare services, which receives all kinds of support and appreciation from NBK.

It is worth mentioning that, in addition to its donation to establish the hospital, NBK contributes in supporting it by continuing to invest in developing all its units and sponsoring all its activities that go beyond treatment services to span various activities aiming to relieve the suffering of patients and their families.

Supporting Youth and Education

LOYAC: Online Training Programs: “KON” and “Career Ready”

NBK sponsored LOYAC’s program “Career Ready” organized by LOYAC in cooperation with HR management consultant and trainer, Amal Al Bedah, which aims to enhance the skills, capabilities and behaviors of the young workforce in the Kuwaiti labor market.

This program tailored to fresh graduates provided online virtual training, due to the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic imposing social distancing. 

The program helps young graduates with transitioning to their own career paths with the skills and knowledge required in finding their purpose and career areas needed in Kuwait labor market.

The program included training courses and workshops to introduce fresh graduates with learning career choices, sectors and industries available in Kuwait, self-marketing techniques and tools to overcome career obstacles.
In addition, NBK sponsored LOYAC’s “KON” program for entrepreneurship, which provided 6 intensive training weeks for 64 participants. Mohammad Al-Othman, GM- Consumer Banking Group at National Bank of Kuwait, participated in the closing ceremony to honor the participants as well as the LOYAC’s curators.

NBK provided its platinum sponsorship for this program as part of the bank's strategic partnership with LOYAC organizing this program for the fourth consecutive year, in cooperation with Babson College, with the aim of supporting students by motivating them to achieve leadership and innovation with projects serving the advancement of community.
More than 29 male and female interns aging from 12 to 16 years, participated in “KON” 2020 program that consisted of online training sessions, discussions, lectures and virtual workshops.


In partnership with “Creative Confidence”, NBK launched program “Tamakkan” for training fresh Kuwaiti graduates and qualifying them to the labor market. The trainees were welcomes NBK’s Executive Management and Creative Confidence’s officials.

The program was designed to accommodate 40 trainees. NBK’s participation affirms its keenness to provide unique and exceptional opportunities to Kuwaiti talents. The program ran for 10 weeks, until 20 April 2020. This program requires full commitment from trainees being a full-time job experience. NBK participated in this program as a strategic sponsor, while Creative Confidence provides trainees with training designed to enhance their skills to become active workforce.

This year, the program boasted success despite the pandemic, by using the approach of live online classes.

Awareness Campaigns

NBK launched various awareness campaigns to celebrate national, social, and international health occasions. These campaigns included National Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, World Diabetes Day, Mother's Day, International Day of Peace, International Day of Charity, International Nurses Day, and International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. NBK also launched Back to work campaign during COVID pandemic.

Community- Related

On the level of community-related sponsorship which mainly include Bayt Abdullah for the Care of Children in Hospice (BACCH), Center 21 for Youth with Mental Disability aiming at rehabilitating, developing them as well as rectifying their behavior and mainstreaming them into the society, in addition to other humanitarian, social and educational entities.

“Winter supplies” Campaign

NBK made an in-kind donation to Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) to support needy families as per the usual practice every Winter within “Winter supplies” Campaign. This campaign aims to offer a warm winter for more than 30 low-income families by distributing aids to secure their necessary needs to face extreme weather conditions like other families in Kuwait.

Kuwait: NBK Participates in Ring the Bell Event Promoting Empowerment of Women


Celebrating International Women's Day (8 March 2021), NBK participated in Ring the Bell Event, organized by UN Women and in cooperation with the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (SCPD) and Boursa Kuwait to promote the empowerment of women in various fields.

UN Women themed this year's event “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world, in celebration of the great efforts made by women for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

NBK participated in the event, which was held virtually represented by Mrs. Shaikha Al-Bahar, Deputy Group CEO, and Mr. Emad Al-Ablani, GM- Group Human Resources, who shed light on the bank's achievements in promoting gender diversity and inclusion as a cornerstone of the bank's system.

The event discussed ways to consolidate efforts and visions to promote the seven principles of the empowerment of women launched by UN Women and UN Global Compact. In 2021, the focus was on the third and fifth of these principles regarding guaranteeing the health, safety, and well-being of all women and men workers, and implementing enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.

On this occasion, Al-Bahar said: “Commemorating International Women's Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on women's achievements and the progress made in achieving gender equality globally. Moreover, it encourages business leaders to act proactively to accelerate realization of this goal in the coming years.”

Al-Bahar pointed out that all organizations and institutions are required to proactively support the principle of equal opportunities in all job roles, and that career progression should be based on key criteria basically skill, experience and competence.

Al-Bahar emphasized that women leaders showed great examples in addressing the coronavirus pandemic and contributed to putting countries on the track of recovery, noting that achieving gender equality in women's leadership and representation is a global prerequisite to create an environment that promotes sustainable development and creates a positive impact on society in the long term.

Al-Bahar added that supporting women to reach their full potential has always been one of NBK’s priorities, stemming from the bank’s belief in the importance of gender diversity and inclusion as critical factors to sustain its success in the future.

“At NBK, we are proud to be one of the first private sector institutions in the region to endorse UN Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs), as we were early to adopt a more systematic approach towards gender equality, which contributed to comprehensive adoption of these principles, and also provided us with a framework to work on the overall UN Sustainable Development Goals including gender equality as one of its key pillars,” she pointed out.

Al-Bahar noted: “NBK follows a unique approach with regards to guaranteeing equal opportunities, as it ensures equal opportunities for all its employees, with no exception, with the aim to motivate them to innovate. This approach is also clearly manifested in having no salary gap between women and men employees in the bank.”

Al-Bahar indicated that gender-diverse workforce gives added value to the bank’s business, operating across 4 continents and 15 countries worldwide. We are proud that women employees represent 46% of the workforce, which is a remarkable achievement across the banking sector and the regional labor market. Moreover, the bank is keen to empower more women through mentoring and offering them career development opportunities.

Over the past years, the bank adopted many initiatives that help attract and retain female talents, in addition to helping working parents create a better work-life balance.

Social media campaigns

Participation in commemorating International Women's Day was exceptional this year, as the bank, through all its social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, intensified the posts highlighting this event, which captures global attention and follow-up.

NBK as a role model
− Women represent 46% of NBK’s total NBK employees.
− Women represent 52.4% of the national cadres holding senior management positions and above in NBK.
− NBK prides in having no salary gap between men and women employees.
− Over the past years, the bank adopted many initiatives that help attract and retain female talent.
− Helping the bank’s parent employees create a better work-life balance.
− The bank is committed to empowering more women through mentoring and providing them career development opportunities.

It is worth mentioning that in 2017, NBK Group endorsed UN Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs), which is a joint initiative between UN Women and UN Global Compact.

Kuwait: NBK’s AGM Approved Distribution of 20% Cash Dividends and 5% Bonus Shares


National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) held today (Saturday, 6 March 2021), its 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), at which there was a quorum of 78.4%. The AGM and EGM approved the Board of Directors’ recommendation to distribute 20% cash dividends to shareholders (equivalent to 20 fils per share) and the distribution of 5% bonus shares (5 shares for every 100 shares owned).


Maintaining Course

Mr. Nasser Al-Sayer, NBK Group Chairman delivered his speech at the 2020 AGM and EGM affirming that the Covid-19 pandemic’s fallout affected all global economies and companies, and Kuwait and the Middle East were no exceptions. For the GCC, the impact was especially severe in light of a record-low oil price environment, at the beginning of the crisis, followed by fluctuations, at the same time they are fighting to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Al-Sayer said: “Despite the challenging operational environment that we faced during the past year, we managed to achieve decent profits amounting KD 246.3 million, whereas operating profits stood at KD 530.9 million. These financial results for 2020 reaffirmed our resilient business model and a strong financial position, and showed continued payback of our diversification and digital transformation strategies.”

Al-Sayer pointed out that NBK’s tremendous and well-thought-out investments in developing employees and digital infrastructure over the past years have proven to be prudent. Additionally, Boubyan Bank, the Islamic arm of the Group, along with the bank’s international operations, continued to play an instrumental role in mitigating risks and diversifying sources of income.

Al-Sayer noted that NBK faced the crisis in a solid position, as the size and liquidity of the group’s balance sheet, along with healthy profitability, enabled it to continue to support customers and society. Moreover, during the year, all necessary measures were taken to enhance the strength of the bank’s financial position amidst the unstable economic conditions caused by the pandemic.

"Our ability to sustain dividend policy while maintaining our solid capital base during this uniquely challenging year is a testament to the solidity of our strategic foundations, and a reflection of the trust placed in us by our customers and shareholders," he added.

Al-Sayer explained that the Board of Directors has performed its duties in the best way, providing guidance and advice to the Executive Management to move the Group's operations forward.

Al-Sayer praised the bank’s executive management and leadership team, and all employees who made tireless efforts during working remotely to help customers weather the challenges imposed by the pandemic. He also extended his thanks to the Central Bank of Kuwait for its efforts aimed to enhance the operational environment.

On NBK’s performance of its social responsibility, Al-Sayer said: “We are proud to continue our unshakable approach laid down by the founders for nearly seven decades with regard to our social responsibilities. In this context, we made a contribution to the fund set up to support government efforts in facing coronavirus outbreak, in addition to supporting the efforts of the Kuwaiti Red Crescent by providing ventilators and mobile clinics to help their efforts to contain the pandemic."

Concluding his speech, Al-Sayer said: “Despite the difficulty of forecasting how the year 2021 will unfold, I am sure that the NBK has the strength, stability and operational resilience enabling it to face all possible scenarios and be up to the expectations of its shareholders and customers, as well as to carry on its historical role in supporting the Kuwaiti economy to recover from the impacts of this pandemic."


Proactive Strategy

On his part, Mr. Isam J. Al-Sager, NBK Group CEO, said in his speech: “The year 2020 was exceptional, due to the challenging operating environment resulting from the pandemic, which demonstrated the bank's resilient business model, solid financial position, and the prudence of NBK's proactive strategy for diversification of income sources and digital transformation.

Al-Sager stated: “This year was exceptionally challenging, not only due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, but also the concurrent sharp decline in oil prices and historically low interest rates. These factors combined led to a decline in the volume of banking transactions across many sectors in all the markets in which we operate. The pace of project awarding and implementation in Kuwait also saw a significant slowdown due to the challenges imposed by the pandemic, in addition to the government's cutting of investment spending due to the decline in its revenues.”

Al-Sager indicated that these circumstances impacted the bank’s operating results, as interest income was affected after re-pricing loans according to the new interest rates after the Central Bank of Kuwait cut the discount rate twice in last March to reach its lowest historical level. Additionally, fees and commission income was also affected by shutdown of economic activities as part of the precautionary measures to combat the spread of the pandemic, especially in the second and third quarters of the year.

These circumstances, Al-Sager noted, made it necessary for NBK to maintain a conservative risk management approach, by providing for prevailing uncertainty, especially that the crisis is still unfolding.


Exceptional policies

Al-Sager indicated that it was normal that the financial results were affected by these repercussions. However, he emphasized that the exceptional policies adopted by the executive management minimized this impact and resulted in posting financial results allowing the Board of Directors to recommend distribution of dividends to shareholders. Total assets also grew by 1.5% to reach KD 29.7 billion, whereas loan portfolio grew by 5.7% to reach KD 17.5 billion, and customer deposits increased by 7.4%, to reach KD 17.1 billion.

Al-Sager continued: “Our profitability, solid financial position and sustained growth of our balance sheets, despite the unprecedented challenges, demonstrate the success of the initiatives and policies we were quick to adopt in order to minimize the impact of the crisis, which focused on enabling our customers to make all their banking transactions without being affected by the lockdown measures, depending on our various digital channels and advanced payment solutions."

Al-Sager said, "We followed a cost control strategy aimed to strike a balance between implementing stringent cost-cutting measures and continuing to inject the necessary investments to achieve our strategic goals."

“We were keen on completing our investments and implementing the digital transformation roadmap, and all our digital initiatives that proved to be very successful in light of our customers’ reliance on our digital channels for 85% of their transactions during the year. Our tremendous digital capabilities were instrumental to ensure smooth flow of our operations, which enabled us to continue making progress in most of our strategic goals," he added.


Well-positioned for recovery

Al-Sager mentioned that, in line with its policy aimed at diversifying the financing base, enhancing capital adequacy ratios, and benefiting from low interest rates, NBK issued subordinated Tier 2 bonds; one KD-denominated worth KD150 million, and another USD-denominated worth USD 300 million, and succeeded in obtaining one of the lowest pricing compared to peer GCC issuances. These issuances saw a remarkable demand from fixed-income investors, reflecting the bank’s creditworthiness and internationally leading position.

Al-Sager noted that throughout the year, the executive management placed the safety of customers and employees at the top of its priorities. To this end, it strived to enable customers to make all their transactions remotely, and to apply all precautionary measures at the branches, as well as maintaining a safe working environment to protect employees’ health and safety.

Regarding the outlook for 2021, Al-Sager said: “We believe that our diversification and digital transformation strategies, along with our solid financial position and leading franchise, and the policies and initiatives accomplished over the past year, make us better positioned for a gradual recovery in light of the accelerated vaccination drive and improving oil prices, and that we will be the biggest beneficiaries from the emerging opportunities as we proceed towards recovery in all the markets in which we operate. "

Al-Sager concluded his speech by thanking the members of the Board of Directors for their prudent advice and guidance. He also thanked the Group’s employees for their dedication in performing their job duties during these exceptional circumstances, regardless of their positions, as well as the bank’s customers inside and outside Kuwait, stressing that the bank always aspires to provide top-notch banking products and services in a way that meets all their expectations.


Solid foundations

On the sidelines of the AGM, Ms. Shaikha Al Bahar, NBK Group Deputy GCEO, said: “The year 2020 was one of the most challenging years for global economies since long generations, as the rapid spread of the pandemic forced countries to shutdown major parts of their economies to protect their citizens, which led to the worst economic downturn in decades.

Al-Bahar added: “While we could not predict the nature or extent of this crisis, we were fully prepared and well-positioned to provide the support needed by our customers and employees, thanks to our solid foundations in the operational and financial sides, and our continuous efforts over the years to build a solid capital base and focusing on our asset quality, minimizing risks, and enhancing the operational resilience needed to withstand potential economic shocks.”.

Al-Bahar indicated that the record low interest rate environment had an impact on net interest income. However, this was offset by the decent growth in the loan portfolio and prudent cost control, and despite the increased provisioning and the pressure on the bank’s revenues from some sectors, NBK outperformed other regionals banks in terms of key financial indicators, and at the same time, maintained strong capitalization levels, with a capital adequacy ratio of 18.4%, and healthy asset quality levels, as non-performing loans ratio stabilized at 1.72% and loan loss coverage ratio stood at 220%.


Digital investments

Al-Bahar continued: “Our geographical footprint and access to markets with great growth potentials are unique factors that give us an edge over our competitors, as our international operations continue to play a vital role in mitigating risks and increasing the diversification of income sources, whereas the growth in Islamic banking through Boubyan Bank, the group’s Islamic arm, remains a key element of our diversification strategy, as the operating income from NBK’s international operations reached KD 206.1 million, which is robust in view of the prevailing circumstances, contributing to 24% of the group’s total operating income.

On the digital transformation front, Al Bahar said: “Despite the impacts of the pandemic, it offered us opportunities to accelerate the implementation of our digital transformation roadmap, which will help us take decisive steps to move forward with our comprehensive and sustainable digital transformation agenda. Throughout its long history, NBK does not hesitate to seize opportunities to consolidate its leading position and meet its aspirations that transcend geographical barriers.”

Al-Bahar emphasized that NBK's digital investments paid off during the crisis, as the bank's digital channels played a key role in customer service, since digital transactions increased to record levels, a trend that continues even after returning to normal levels of economic activities, especially as we continue to introduce continuous enhancements to NBK Mobile Banking App and develop branches to integrate with digital channels with the aim of enriching customer experience

Al-Bahar explained that over the past year, and in recognition of NBK's efforts in supporting customers and employees, the bank was one of the few banks around the world to be recognized by receiving a number of prestigious awards in the areas of innovation in digital banking services from Global Finance magazine, noting that the bank also scored a high rating in customer satisfaction index.


International expansion

Speaking about the outlook, Al Bahar said: “As we navigate into 2021, we will continue to focus efforts on leveraging the size and strength of our balance sheet to support our customers. In addition, having a combination of professional human cadres and advanced digital technology will remain a key factor for our success, as this will support the creation of distinguished propositions and solutions that attract new customers, and strengthen the relationships with existing customers."

Al-Bahar continued, saying: “We will continue to give priority to a disciplined focus on managing cost to remain financially and strategically flexible, and we will align our business with our endeavors to create added value for our customers by empowering them and enriching their banking experience. We will continue to simplify and digitize their interactions with us to save time, provide convenience and added value. We will also provide AI-based solutions and enhance the analysis of data and core digital systems to identify and meet their needs and provide them with new and outstanding solutions.”

On the international markets level, Al-Bahar mentioned that the bank will continue its efforts to expand in the retail and wholesale sectors in the Egyptian market by investing in digital banking services and focusing on increasing new customers acquisition and simplifying their transactions. On the other hand, the bank will seek to expand its regional wealth management footprint, by enhancing its wealth management proposition (Watani Wealth Management Company) and linking it to the group's global wealth management platform, as well as increasing commercial banking offers in the Saudi market to gradually boost its presence in the Kingdom and increase this market’s contribution to the group’s bottom line.


Positive signs

Al-Bahar stated: "Over the past few months, we have witnessed positive signs and indicators that give us optimism, and we are confident that our strategy will continue to achieve better returns for our shareholders across all of our key markets in the future. We stress that the executive management has a clear mission and an unwavering focus on preserving the bank’s leadership, and this mission is supported by key principles represented in putting customers first, investing in our people and digital infrastructure, and benefiting from our broad geographical footprint, and we are confident that the implementation of this mission will help us sustain stable returns for our shareholders on the long term.”

Al-Bahar concluded: "We are proud of the role we played since the very beginning of the crisis in supporting our country and government’s efforts to curb the spread of this pandemic, and we will certainly be there to support the recovery of our national economy from this crisis."


Operational resilience

Meanwhile, Mr. Salah Al-Fulaij, CEO of NBK-Kuwait, announced after the meeting: “The operating environment was exceptionally challenging, as Kuwait was one of the first and most keen countries to impose lockdown measures. This coincided with the slow pace of project implementation, low interest rates and the failure to approve the public debt law and guarantee financing for SMEs, which affected the business sector, as the IMF expected the economy to contract by 8.1% in 2020.

Al-Fulaij pointed out that these challenges demonstrated the bank's resilient business model, which as reflected in the asset growth trends mainly driven by the growth of loan portfolio by 5.7% year-on-year, with the continued support of the Kuwaiti demographics for strong growth trends in consumer lending, in addition to the bank's leading position in financing government, oil and private sectors’ institutions.

Al-Fulaij said: “Our crisis management focused on key pivots that aimed to continue focusing on digital initiatives and developing our digital channels to ensure uninterrupted services, consolidate our digital excellence, and provide the required support to our retail and corporate customers during the crisis, in addition to maintaining the safety of our customers and employees.”

Speaking on digital initiatives, Al-Fulaij said: “We launched advanced payment solutions for the first time in Kuwait at the beginning of the year, and we were the first to launch Samsung Pay in the third quarter. We also continued to invest in enhancing our digital channels, basically NBK Mobile Banking App, to which we added 22 updates. This was reflected in a 38% increase in the number of users and 51% in the number of transactions made using the app. At the end of the year, we opened our new branch at The Avenues Mall, unfolding NBK’s futuristic approach to branches, as part of our digital transformation strategy.

The bank’s digital excellence was recognized by naming it Best Consumer Digital Bank in Kuwait and the Middle East from Global Finance magazine.


Local dominance

Al-Fulaij continued: “We defended our market share and maintained our leadership as the largest financier of government projects and the house bank for Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its subsidiaries. We succeeded in leading the banking sector to conclude a financing facility agreement worth KD 1 billion in favor of KPC. We also preserved our dominant share in financing foreign companies operating in Kuwait and cemented our relationships with most of these companies. Additionally, we signed a memorandum of understanding with Italian Export Credit Agency (SACE) to support and finance Italian companies operating in Kuwait. We were also keen to continue investing in developing innovative banking and treasury solutions and foreign exchange services to live up to international standards.”

These efforts were recognized by winning the awards of Best Private Bank in Kuwait, Best Foreign Exchange Provider in the Middle East, and Best Trade Finance Bank in Kuwait from Global Finance magazine, Al-Fulaij pointed out.


Customer support

Regarding the bank's role in supporting customers, Al-Fulaij indciated that NBK and the banking sector launched exceptional initiatives to mitigate the impact of the crisis including a deferral program for the installments of all consumer loans and credit card for six months, without any resulting interest or fees, as well as deferring the installments of SMEs loans and stopping collection of fees on POS terminals and digital channels for three months. The bank also provided soft loans to its corporate and SMEs customers.

Al-Fulaij affirmed that NBK was committed to enable customers make all their transactions, saying: “We launched the mobile branch initiative, and reached our customers in quarantined areas during the full lockdown by providing mobile ATMs. And as part of our endeavors to serve all our customer segments, we opened our new branch at the headquarters of Kuwait Boursa, and were closer to our customers through our digital channels and social media platforms, which reached 1.7 million followers.”

These customer support efforts were recognized as NBK was named Best Retail Bank in Customer Service in Kuwait, according to Service Hero Index.

Al-Fulaij highlighted that the bank’s employees received full support during these exceptional circumstances, and a series of questionnaires were conducted about employees’ awareness and confidence in the measures taken by the bank during these times. This helped create new programs and resources to support them, with a strong focus on their health and safety.

Furthermore, in order to protect our people, Al-Fulaij indicated that the bank has taken all necessary actions to keep them safe, and has not stopped to provide them with training by re-designing all training courses according to virtual reality technology, as the bank organized 71 training programs and workshops that were attended by 1137 participants, and 2,625 employees received mandatory training courses, which are unprecedented levels NBK succeeded to achieve, despite the exceptional circumstances.


NBK’s leadership

Al-Fulaij pointed out that while the bank strives to weather the continuing crisis, it is looking forward to the future and focusing on preserving NBK’s leadership and its dominant market share in Kuwait by continuing to implement its digital transformation roadmap that supports the achievement of all the bank’s strategic objectives, basically acquisition of more customers from the youth segment.

“We aim to maintain our leadership in financing development projects, support and finance expansion of the oil and private sector projects. We also seek to continue our strategy aiming to penetrate the medium-sized companies market to increase and diversify our corporate customer base. We are also looking forward to complete the strategy of creating integration between branches and digital services, as opening the Avenues branch was just the beginning of unveiling this strategy,” he added.


Thanks and appreciation..

At the end of his speech, Mr. Nasser Al-Sayer, on behalf of all Board members and the Executive Management team, extended thanks to HH Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, and HH Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the Crown Prince, for their continued support for the stability and growth of the Kuwaiti economy. He also thanked the Central Bank of Kuwait and the Capital Markets Authority for their efforts to make Kuwait a more attractive investment destination.

In addition, Al-Sayer thanked the shareholders for their trust in National Bank of Kuwait, and also expressed his special gratitude to the bank’s customers in Kuwait and throughout the region and the whole world for their loyalty and continuous support.

Al-Sayer also thanked the Group's Board of Directors for their prudent advice and leadership. He also expressed his appreciation for the relentless efforts of the Executive Management of the National Bank of Kuwait and their constant endeavors to sustain the bank’s progress, and accentuated the instrumental role of the bank’s employees to gain the confidence placed by customers and shareholders in the bank.


Dividend distribution date

Cash dividends and bonus shares will be distributed as of Tuesday dated 30.03.2021, for the shareholders registered in the bank’s shareholders’ records as at the end of the due date set to Thursday dated 25.03.2021.


Eid and Saidi elected as independent board members

The General Assembly elected Dr. Robert Maroun Eid and Dr. Nasser Amin Saidi as independent members for the remainder of the membership term for the current session of the board, in compliance with corporate governance regulations issued by the regulatory authorities.

Eid, who holds a PhD in banking and finance from the Sorbonne University in Paris, held many executive positions in many leading financial institutions including Saudi Home Loans Company (SHL), Arab National Investment Company (ANB Invest), MetLife and Arab National Bank Cooperative Insurance Company (AIG ANB). He also worked as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Arab National Bank - KSA from 2005 to 2020, and as Managing Director and CEO of National Bank of Kuwait (International) PLC (NBKI) from 1998 to 2005.

Saidi, who holds a PhD from the University of Rochester in USA, also held several positions. He served as the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in Lebanon from 1998 to 2000 and the Vice Governor of Banque du Liban (Central Bank of Lebanon) from 1993 to 2003. He also was a Member of UN Committee for Development Policy (UNCDP) from 2005 to 2006, and the Chief Advisor to the Minister of Finance - UAE from 2005 to 2006 and the Chief Economist (previously) for Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) from 2006 to 2012 and also served as the Executive Director of Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance from 2006 to 2012.

Kuwait: NBK Reports 2020 Net Profit of KD 246.3 million


National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) posted a net profit of KD 246.3 million (USD 812.3 million) for the year ended 31 December 2020, compared to KD 401.3 million (USD 1.3 billion) for the same period last year; dropping by 38.6% year-on-year.

As of end of December 2020, NBK’s total assets grew by 1.5% on annual basis, to reach KD 29.7 billion (USD 98.0 billion), while customer loans and advances grew by 5.7% compared to the same period last year, to reach KD 17.5 billion (USD 57.7 billion) while customers’ deposits grew by 7.4% to reach KD 17.1 billion (USD 56.4 billion).

NBK’s Board of Directors has proposed the distribution of a cash dividend of 20 fils per share, representing 55.6% of net profit, in addition to 5% bonus shares (5 shares for every 100 shares). The cash dividend and bonus shares, if approved by the shareholders’ general assembly, shall be payable to the shareholders after obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals. Earnings per share (EPS) stood at 32 fils, as compared to 57 fils in 2019, while shareholders’ equity stood at KD 3.2 billion (USD 10.5 billion)

Commenting on the Bank’s results, Mr. Nasser Al-Sayer, The Chairman of the Board of Directors of National Bank of Kuwait, said: “In a profoundly challenging year, NBK performed well and we are pleased with the results achieved by the Group in light of exceptionally challenging operating conditions.

This demonstrates the strength and resilience of our business model, the positive impact of our digital strategy and the dedication of our employees in performing their duties in such critical times.”

“The year 2020 was characterized by unprecedented challenges combined with a high level of uncertainty. NBK held up well in the face of extraordinary market conditions and clearly demonstrated its governance and prudent risk management. Furthermore, NBK reaffirmed its solid financial position alongside its commitment to supporting clients and the communities in which it operates.”

“Besides the growth in Islamic banking through our subsidiary, Boubyan Bank, remaining an important driver for earnings diversification, our international operations proved to play a vital role in mitigating risks and further diversifying our income streams.”

Al Sayer added: “The solid profits of the Bank and its strong capital base provided enough flexibility allowing for a sustained dividend policy despite the operational challenges. Throughout the year 2020, NBK boosted its capital levels by issuing KD subordinated Tier 2 bonds along with USD Tier 2 notes. The issuances being oversubscribed by 1.5x and 3.6x respectively were a testament to NBK’s strong credit profile.”

“Today, our main focus is to strength our operations in our international markets, leveraging the loyalty of our customers, while building a digitally driven culture to be fully prepared for the future.”

“Looking ahead, and although uncertainty continues to dominate the global macro scene, NBK is very well-prepared and positioned for different recovery scenarios, thanks to our flexible operational model and strong financial position.”

Al-Sayer concluded by extending his sincere appreciation to NBK employees for their devotion and commitment in supporting the bank’s customers with all their financial needs during these challenging times.
On his part, Mr. Isam Al-Sager, NBK Group CEO said: “Our 2020 profits is testimony to our dynamic business model and strategy, as well as our ability to adapt promptly to the adverse operating conditions that the pandemic imposed on us.”

Al-Sager highlighted that “the Bank has delivered good performance in 2020 considering the unprecedented operating environment that prevailed following the outbreak of COVID 19, along with the drop in oil prices and low interest rates.”

“The partial and full lockdown of activities that was introduced to limit the spread of the virus weighed heavily on businesses leading to a drop in transaction volumes. Our profitability was also negatively impacted by an increase in provisions that is mostly precautionary in nature as we maintain a conservative approach to risk”, Al-Sager pointed.

Al-Sager also highlighted that looking ahead, “The Group is moving rapidly to enhance fees and commission income streams and will stringently monitor costs, and this discipline has already enabled us to maintain operating expenses at an appropriate level. Moreover, NBK’s regional focus will be to grow organically in key markets, in particular Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where in the case of the former both the retail and wholesale markets offer compelling opportunities, while in KSA the Group’s wealth management proposition has strong momentum.”

Concluding his statements, Al-Sager said: “As we turn our attention to 2021, we have good reason to be confident in our future. We have created a strong position for ourselves through the strategic investments in our employees, operations and digital platforms”. In parallel, supported by a strong balance sheet, healthy asset quality and comfortable liquidity levels, we will be able to withstand the current crisis, and continue to deliver on our commitment towards all our stakeholders and returning to profitable growth”.