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Kuwait: NBK leads the way in Kuwait in a partnership with RippleNet to offer instant cross-border payments to customers

29.05.2018

The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) continues to introduce innovative and the newest technology solutions to meet the needs of customers, having partnered with RippleNet to offer customers a fast, safe and convenient cross border payments service, and making NBK the first bank in Kuwait to join the growing network of RippleNet globally.

NBK’s RippleNet solution brings innovation to the fundamentals of international remittances since the bank is in the process of applying this service in Kuwait as well as in its branches abroad after obtaining the necessary approvals from the regulatory bodies, led by the Central Bank of Kuwait.

NBK Deputy Group CEO Mrs. Shaikha Al Bahar said: “We are delighted to join RippleNet and access the fast-growing network that connects the network members and other financial institutions. This solution will improve our customers experience dramatically where we will be able to provide instant fund transfers with end-to-end tracing and tracking solutions which is available currently in global and some GCC markets including UAE and Saudi Arabia. This is also in-line with National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) strategy to adopt the latest technologies which mutually benefits both the bank and our esteemed clients.”

“This announcement represents NBK commitment to adopt the latest practical solutions and reflects our ability to transform NBK to digital bank with world class services and solutions, and yet we are still maintaining our corporate identity and without affecting our regulatory compliance”, Al Bahar added.

Managing Director of Southeast Asia and MENA, Ripple, Mr. Navin Gupta said:” We are glad to have NBK join our network as the first banking partner in Kuwait. It holds a reputation of providing innovative services that comply with international standards all while ensure safe transactions to their customers. This agreement will enable NBK to use innovative blockchain technology to support speed and secured remittances both for domestic & International destinations.”

“By joining Ripple’s growing,  global network, financial institutions like NBK can process their customers’ payments into and out of Kuwait instantly, reliably and cost-effectively, as well as expand their payments solutions into new markets - including those that are otherwise too difficult or expensive to reach”, he added.

“With offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Sydney, India, Singapore and Luxembourg, Ripple already has more than 140 customers around the world. Joining RippleNet enables banks to process cross-border payments in real time with end-to-end tracking and certainty of settlement”, Gupta said.

National Bank of Kuwait continues to collectively enjoy the highest credit ratings from the three international rating agencies; Moody’s, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s. The Bank’s ratings are supported by its high capitalization, prudent lending policies, and its disciplined approach to risk management, in addition to its highly recognized and very stable management team. NBK also maintains its position among the 50 safest banks in the world for the twelfth consecutive year.

NBK Group has the widest banking presence in four continents worldwide. NBK’s international presence spans many of the world’s leading financial centers including London, Paris, Geneva, New York and Singapore, as well as China (Shanghai). Meanwhile, regional coverage extends to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey.

For more information about the latest technology solutions and services offered by NBK, please visit: NBK.com



Kuwait: NBK’s AGM was held with a 77.86% quorum and approved all BOD’s proposals

08.03.2020

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) held today (Saturday, 7 March 2020), its 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), at which there was a quorum of 77.86 %. The AGM and EGM approved the Board of Directors’ recommendation to distribute 35% cash dividends to shareholders (equivalent to 35 fils per share) and the distribution of 5% bonus shares (5 shares for every 100 shares owned).

Sustained growth

NBK’s Chairman Mr. Nasser Al-Sayer delivered his speech at the 2019 AGM and EGM affirming that NBK had another year of stellar performance in 2019 across all business units and markets. That performance was clearly reflected in the continued profitable growth and the solid financial results, a testament that NBK is on the right track to consolidate its leadership in the local market and solidifies its prominent position in expanding its geographical footprint across regional markets in line with its diversification  and digital transformation strategies; the cornerstones of NBK’s future growth.

Al-Sayer added that in 2019 NBK reported over KWD 401 million in net profits which was mainly driven by core banking activities and strong volumes across most business segments. Customer loans and advances grew by 7% y-o-y, maintaining the Group’s robust balance sheet and demonstrating the quality and diversity of both operations and earnings. “That confirms that the Group’s diversification strategy is an important factor in our strong and consistent financial performance, as we continually seek to maintain diversity in both the markets we operate in and services we provide in such a way that guarantees operational excellence in the ever-changing banking environment”, Al-Sayer commented. 

Al-Sayer said that he was pleased to host the AGM and EGM at NBK’s new headquarters which is considered a milestone in the Bank's sustainability practices, resulting in NBK’s selection to be a constituent of the prestigious sustainability FTSE4Good Index Series.  NBK Tower is a new landmark green-building built in line with LEED Gold requirements, being one of the first with such high certification in Kuwait and the region based on its energy saving and environment preservation designs. “We are very optimistic regarding conserving energy and water consumption, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Al-Sayer stressed.

Al-Sayer confirmed that in the backdrop of a challenging global economic environment Kuwait has been a beacon of stability thanks to its solid economic foundations that supported the stability of the operating environment despite global trade uncertainties and regional geopolitical tensions.
NBK showed a great deal of resilience in facing such challenges, thanks to its leadership position, its dominant market share and its strong financial position, thus positioning NBK to be the trusted bank of choice for financing public and private projects, as it maintains its leading role in supporting economic growth and the agenda of ‘New Kuwait 2035’”, Al-Sayer concluded.

Strong Balance Sheet

Isam J. Al-Sager, NBK’s Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are extremely proud of our solid financial performance over the past year. NBK fared well and delivered strong results despite the challenging operating environment which was negatively impacted by volatile oil prices.  NBK’s performance in 2019 highlighted the strength of our business model and strategic focus driven from our diversification strategies as clearly reflected in the strong growth of our balance sheet. Total assets grew by 6.7% y-o-y, reaching KWD 29.3 billion and equity attributable to shareholders stood at KWD 3.21 billion. Meanwhile, customer loans and advances increased to KWD 15.9 billion, up by 10.7%.

Al-Sager confirmed that NBK maintained healthy levels of capitalization, with a capital adequacy ratio of 17.8% at year-end, exceeding the Central Bank of Kuwait’s guidelines and Basil III requirements. NBK’s asset quality metrics remained strong with the ratio of non-performing loans to gross loans at 1.10% and an NPL coverage ratio of 272.2%.  Return on average equity was 12.3% while return on average assets was 1.42%.

Al-Sager highlighted that towards the end of 2019, NBK issued USD 750 million RegS/144A perpetual Non-Call 6-Year Tier 1 capital securities. The issuance was well received by fixed income investors and financial institutions around the world, reflecting NBK’s well-established reputation, solid investor confidence and its highest credit ratings among Kuwaiti and regional banks. 

Diversification Strategy

Al-Sager indicated that NBK’s financial and operational performance is a testament to its solid foundations and confirms its ability to grow in the medium and long terms, as the Group’s strategies continues to focus on its forward-looking development and sustainable growth.

“The diversification of our income sources by focusing on Islamic Banking through our subsidiary, Boubyan Bank, and the diversity of our customer base in the MENA region were key drivers for consistently reporting strong profits. Our international operations accounted for 28% of the Group’s profit. This is a huge step in building a global banking network that fulfills the Kuwaiti economy’s need in supporting “New Kuwait 2035” though playing our role as a deeply rooted bank with a vastly expanded international network and the prestigious reputation of NBK’s name”. Al-Sager added.

Going forward, Al-Sager stressed that NBK is focused on increasing operational efficiency through its investments in technology and digital transformation in order to reach a more efficient operational performance and provide the best solutions to the Bank's retail and corporate clients as it strives to maintain its leadership position in providing the best digital banking solutions.

Digital Future

Commenting on NBK’s solid performance throughout 2019, NBK’s Deputy GCEO Ms. Shaikha Al Bahar said: “2019 was an outstanding year, not only in terms of the Bank’s solid financial performance but it was a great year for NBK all around.  NBK successfully managed to achieve huge strides in establishing its digital footprint and consolidating its leadership position in advanced banking technologies across the region. We continue to reap the benefits of building digital disruptive businesses to diversify income sources and mitigate risks by expanding our international operations, which is considered one of the Group’s unique competitive advantages.”

Al-Bahar added that these achievements were reflected in NBK’s financial results, as profits continued to grow despite operational challenges and as the Bank accelerated its drive towards establishing its digital age through the implementation of its digitization roadmap in order to maintain its strategic competitive advantage over its peers. In the meantime, NBK’s balance sheet continued to expand while keeping strong asset quality metrics, demonstrating our deep commitment towards sustainable growth within the guidelines of the Bank’s prudent risk mitigation policies.

“We are proud of launching our in-house Digital Factory, which is playing a vital role in driving the Group’s progress towards a digital future and supporting our digital offering in the region. With its client-centric approach, the Digital Factory is staffed by the market’s sharpest and most capable FinTech minds”. Al Bahar added.

Global Expansion

Al Bahar emphasized that the continued expansion of the Group’s footprint represents its most significant competitive advantage, thanks to the unique offerings that sets NBK apart from its competitors. Therefore, international operations is an essential pillar in maintaining the Bank’s leadership and its continued growth as its contribution to the group’s net profit reached 28% despite the lower cost of risks in the Kuwaiti market, and its contribution also increased to 25% of the total operating revenue.

“We maintain our focus on expanding our operations and continue to heavily invest in the deployment of our digital offerings across our main markets, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia”, Al Bahar confirmed.

Speaking of the Egyptian market, Al Bahar pointed out that NBK is focused on building digital platforms to complement the traditional branch-based sales and service model. NBK Egypt is also focused on expanding its footprint in the Egyptian market as the country’s economy gathers further momentum in the rollout of the wide-reaching economic reform programme, as we maintain our focus on increasing our share of the burgeoning retail banking segment and continue to expand our presence throughout various Egyptian governorates.

As for the Saudi market, NBK is working on launching an unconventional banking model that will represent a fundamental pillar in supporting its expansion strategy in the Saudi market. Moreover, NBK successfully inaugurated two new branches as it maintains a permanent presence in three of the Kingdom’s major cities: Jeddah, Riyadh and Khobar. NBK Saudi is also targeting to capitalize on growing its Assets Under Management (AUM) through Watani Wealth Management Company.

As for the remaining international markets, Al Bahar indicated that NBK has established a unique banking framework which mainly maintains a strong emphasis on promoting cross-selling culture across the Bank’s locations and units through its international operations in 15 countries across 4 continents. NBK also continues to expand its presence in EU markets as it strives to support international trade between Europe and the regional countries through NBK France.

 Operational Excellence

Meanwhile, NBK-Kuwait CEO, Mr. Salah Al Fulaij said: “NBK had unique operational performance in 2019 as it successfully managed to achieve outstanding growth rates across our main business segments despite adverse headwinds that negatively impacted the non-oil sector and the delay in project award and execution, thanks to the continued development of the bank’s business model in the Kuwaiti market, our primary market, which constitutes 44% of total assets and 63% of net profits”.

Al-Fulaij pointed out that last year, NBK mainly focused on corporate banking services to maintain its dominant share in the local market through skillfully maintaining close relations with former and current clients thanks to its exceptional customer service and specialized professional advice, in addition to its international presences. Moreover, NBK Capital provides further support through the comprehensive and wide range of financing solutions and investment offerings, which are key elements in maintaining the Group’s leading position in financing mega deals.

“NBK continued to consolidate its position at the forefront of Kuwait’s oil & gas, as it remains the ‘house’ bank for lending to KPC and its subsidiaries as demonstrated by the KWD 350 million revolving facility it arranged in 2019”, Al-Fulaij added.

Al-Fulaij highlighted that Private Banking Group successfully maintained its leadership position as a leading provider of wealth management services in the Kuwaiti market with improved liquidity and significant increase in its AUM which enabled the Group to record strong growth in its revenues.

Technological Excellence

Speaking on digital banking products and services, Al-Fulaij confirmed that NBK has the best mobile banking applications across local and regional markets thanks to the continuous development and improvements efforts. In 2019, 17 new and updated services were launched, as Mobile app users can now book term deposits in various currencies and may also benefit from NBK Geo Alerts, the first of its kind service that allow customers to receive notifications about discounts, offers and NBK Rewards Points on their phone while shopping, in addition to further developing NBK Quick Pay. That was reflected in a significant increase of 55% in NBK Mobile users y-o-y, and Mobile users satisfaction rate jumped to 95%.

As for Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR), Al-Fulaij said: “We are very pleased that NBK has become the biggest contributor to CSR, and we are proud to be at forefront of all local and regional institutions that have introduced environmental, social and economic sustainability initiatives. Our CSR initiatives grew by approximately 11% in 2019, including our contributions to NBK Children’s Hospital, in addition to numerous initiatives covering various sectors, including: health, education, youth, environment, sports, and culture”.

Team Spirit

Al-Fulaij concluded his message by stressing on NBK’s role in achieving these accomplishments and maintaining its leadership position as a leading franchise in the private sector that attract talented and experiences employees as it continues to heavily invest in its human capital with over KWD 1.5 million spent last year towards training programs in cooperation with the most prestigious universities and institutes around the world including Harvard Business School and INSEAD.

Al-Fulaij also stressed that NBK’s strength stems from employing national manpower, as NBK brought its Kuwaitization ratio to 70.6%, exceeding regulatory requirements. Moreover, 45% of the workforce consists of female employees, which is an unprecedented achievement across the local and regional banking sector.



Kuwait: NBK reports 2019 net profit of KD 401.3 million, increasing 8.2% Y-o-Y

20.01.2020

National Bank of Kuwait (“NBK”, the “Bank” or the “Group”), today announced its financial results for the year ended 31 December 2019. The Group delivered strong annual performance with net profit of KD 401.3 million (USD 1.3 billion) compared with KD 370.7 million (USD 1.2 billion) in 2018, increasing by 8.2% year-on-year.

Total assets in 2019 stood at KD 29.3 billion (USD 96.6 billion), increasing by 6.7%, with customer deposits increasing by 10.7% to reach KD 15.9 billion (USD 52.6 billion) and customer loans and advances growing by 6.8% to KD 16.6 billion (USD 54.6 billion). NBK’s Board of Directors has proposed the distribution of a cash dividend of 35 fils per share, representing 56.4% of net profit, in addition to 5% bonus shares.

The proposed dividend is subject to shareholders’ approval at the Annual General Meeting. Earnings per share (EPS) stood at 60 fils, as compared to 55 fils in 2018, and equity attributable to shareholders increased by 8.8% to KD 3.21 billion (USD 10.6 billion).

Nasser Musaed Abdulla Al-Sayer, NBK Group Chairman, commented: “2019 was another strong year as we delivered healthy profitability while maintaining a robust balance sheet – demonstrating the quality and diversity of both our operations and earnings.

The Bank remains firmly committed to New Kuwait 2035 and is taking confident steps towards supporting its delivery. These financial results are driven by the execution of our strategy for growth and innovation, while contributing to the country’s socioeconomic development.

A highlight of the year was the heavy oversubscription of our USD 750 million perpetual tier-1 capital securities issuance, which was well-received by global fixed income investors and reflects solid investor confidence in NBK.”

Net operating income grew by 1.4% to KD 895.5 million (USD 3.0 billion), while non-interest income increased by 7.0% to KD 206.3 million (USD 680.7 million). Our international operations continued to play an important role in mitigating Group-level risk and diversifying income from across geographies. The total bottom line contribution of international operations accounted for 28% of the Group’s net profit in 2019.

Isam J. Al-Sager, NBK’s Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “Despite operating conditions remaining below expectations, with a volatile oil prices environment, NBK recorded another set of strong results, as the breadth of its operations and the scale of its international footprint mitigated risks and ensured consistent profitability.

Non-oil GDP growth in Kuwait is projected to reach 2.5% in 2020, and the pipeline of scheduled project awards is healthy. There is a broad expectation that the year will bring positive operating conditions, as the government continues to stimulate economic activity and the appetite for credit improves.

 NBK is deeply committed to its digitalization strategy, in an effort to develop an established foothold in its regional markets. In 2019 we were proud to launch our in-house Digital Factory, which is playing a vital role in driving the progress of our digital roadmap. This will soon become a unique competitive advantage in the region.”

NBK’s asset quality metrics remained strong with the ratio of non-performing loans to gross loans at 1.10%, compared with 1.38% in 2018, and an NPL coverage ratio of 272.2%, compared with 228.1% in 2018. The Bank maintained healthy levels of capitalization, with a capital adequacy ratio of 17.8% at year-end, compared with 17.2% in 2018. This level of capitalization is aligned with the Group’s risk appetite and in excess of the Central Bank of Kuwait’s requirements.

Al-Sager concluded: “NBK’s strategy for 2020 will not deviate from its current trajectory. The Group will continue to increase the diversity of its income across geographies and segments, with the primary objective of achieving superior returns and offering exceptional service to customers.”

In 2019, NBK was recognized by Global Finance and The Banker as the Best Bank in Kuwait, as well as ranking in the World’s 50 Safest Banks list by Global Finance for the 14th consecutive time. The awards are evidence of NBK’s strong financial position, market leadership and of its ability to meet the ever-changing needs of its customers.