Kuwait: NBK Reports Net Profit of KD 362.2 million for FY 202127.01.2022
National Bank of Kuwait (“NBK”, the “Bank” or the “Group”) has announced its financial results for the twelve-month period ended 31 December 2021. NBK reported a net profit of KD 362.2 million (USD 1.2 billion), compared to KD 246.3 million (USD 814.4 million), improving by 47.1% year-on-year.
As of end of December 2021, NBK’s total assets grew by 11.9% on annual basis, to reach KD 33.3 billion (USD 109.9 billion), while customers’ deposits grew by 6.9% to reach KD 18.3 billion (USD 60.4 billion).
Customer loans and advances on the other hand grew by 12.7% compared to the same period last year, to reach KD 19.7 billion (USD 65.2 billion)while total shareholders’ equity stood at KD 3.3 billion (USD 11.0 billion) by end of year 2021.
NBK’s Board of Directors has proposed the distribution of a cash dividend of 30 fils per share, representing 59.6% 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 47 fils, as compared to 31 fils in 2020.
Commenting on the results, NBK Group Chairman, Nasser Al-Sayer, said:
“NBK delivered strong financial results despite the continued challenges posed by the pandemic on the operating environment and the global economy.”
“NBK’s performance affirmed the flexibility and diversity of the Bank’s business model in 2021 through achieving superior returns for its shareholders. The Bank demonstrated its unique ability to overcome the disruptive operating environment whilst persisting to invest in human resources and in our digital agenda to secure future growth,” he noted.
Al-Sayer added: “The bank enjoys a solid financial position alongside a strong and stable capital base; which supports our ability in meeting the growing needs of clients. Throughout the year, the Bank invested heavily in its strategic digital infrastructure in order to position NBK to grow and prosper over the long term.”
“Despite the continued state of uncertainty stemming from the repercussions of the pandemic, the Bank maintained its commitment towards rewarding and adding value to shareholders through strong cash dividends and bonus shares distributions,” he elaborated
”The operational environment in Kuwait is promising in 2022 and we are optimistic with regards to the opportunities embedded; in light of the high vaccination rates which would eventually enhance business sentiment and contribute positively to economic growth alongside the support to the state’s fiscal standing from the recovery in oil prices,” he mentioned.
“We take pride in the progress that we achieved in implementing the highest standards of corporate governance whilst embedding sustainability as an integral part of our corporate culture and operations. Furthermore, we will continue our promises in achieving responsible and sustainable growth and to sharing our successes with the communities in which we operate,” Al-Sayer stated.
Al-Sayer affirmed that: “NBK will continue in its responsible role in supporting the global objective of low-carbon emissions and mitigating the risks of climate change whilst delivering strides across other sustainability initiatives. In this regard, we have set specific goals for sustainable business, and are keen on embedding climate-related considerations as part of our business model in the future.”
“We will continue to place considerable value on the health and safety of our employees and customers while ensuring the delivery of world class products and highest service quality. Moreover, the Bank will remain committed into supporting and contributing to the recovery of Kuwait’s economy,” he concluded.
On his part, NBK Group Chief Executive Officer, Issam J. Al Sager, commented:
“Despite the resurgence of Covid-19 cases and the uncertainty around economic outlook during 2021, NBK succeeded in recording solid profits and exceeded strategic targets set for the year.
The operating environment in Kuwait witnessed a moderate rebound that was characterized by higher consumer spending, improvement in business activity and volumes as well as gradual recovery in government spending and project awarding, which reached KD 1.5 billion in 2021.”
“NBK delivered robust growth and strong financial performance across business lines. Regardless of the continued low interest rate environment, the Bank’s resilient loans and deposits growth contributed positively and supported in maintaining stable margins,” he added.
“Thanks to the proactive and conservative approach that NBK adopted since the beginning of the pandemic, we now bear the fruits of recording lower cost of risk levels which contributed positively in growing our bottom line profits. Our operating income for the year increased by 7.6% to reach KD 906.3 million; driven by a robust growth in core banking income,” he mentioned.
Al-Sager noted: “The Group continued towards achieving its strategic objectives with wealth management and Islamic banking conveying decent growth and further endorsed its financing dominance and capabilities across retail and corporate segments. Moreover, our non-interest income continues to grow, taking advantage of the different markets where we operate and the strong relationships the Bank has established with its customers over many years.”
“Our digital transformation continued to accelerate this year, driving efficiency and enhanced customer experience, while we also laid the foundation for future growth by launching Weyay, Kuwait’s first digital bank, to better attract and serve the needs of the youth,” he highlighted.
Al-Sager mentioned that “During 2021, NBK added a pool of prestigious awards in recognition of the quality of services and products delivered to clients. Likewise, the Bank asserted itself as a leading global financial institution issuer in the region as we succeeded in issuing two bonds to further enhance its capitalization & liquidity levels and to diversify the Group’s funding profile. The issuances marked a milestone for the Bank and further endorsed investors’ continuous confidence in the Bank’s prudent management and confidence in overcoming crises.”
“In 2022, we will intensify our focus in constantly designing and delivering innovative propositions to our clients. We will also upgrade our digital infrastructure foundations to enrich customers’ experience and to serve as a springboard for regional growth and expansion; as well as investing heavily in our people – who represent the engine of our growth and success,” he promised.
“NBK will remain agile in positioning and endorsing ESG as a core principle to the way we conduct and operate our business, with initiatives in relation to identifying and quantifying ESG already in place. Our commitment is ongoing, with special focus on assessing the direct and indirect environmental impact of our operations, especially as the risks of climate change continue to emerge.”
Performance and operating highlights FY 2021:
• Total assets grew by 11.9% year-on-year, to KD 33.3 billion (USD 109.9 billion)
• Net operating income of KD 906.3 million (USD 3.0 billion), increasing by 7.6% compared to FY 2020
• Customer deposits increased by 6.9% year-on-year to KD 18.3 billion (USD 60.4 billion)
• Total loans and advances grew by 12.7% year-on-year to KD 19.7 billion (USD 65.2 billion)
• Shareholders’ equity stood at KD 3.3 billion (USD 11.0 billion)
• Strong asset quality metrics, with NPL/gross loans ratio at 1.04% and an NPL coverage ratio of 300%
• Robust Capital Adequacy Ratio of 18.1%, comfortably in excess of regulatory requirements
Kuwait: National Bank of Kuwait Reports Net Profit of KD 116.6 million for the first quarter of 202220.04.2022
Kuwait City, Kuwait, 19 April 2022: National Bank of Kuwait (“NBK”, the “Bank” or the “Group”) has announced its financial results for the three-month period ended 31 March 2022. The Bank reported a net profit of KD 116.6 million (USD 383.6 million), compared to KD 84.3 million (USD 277.4 million) for 1Q 2021, improving by 38.3% year-on-year.
Total assets as of end of March 2022 grew by 8.7% year-on-year to reach KD 33.7 billion (USD 110.9 billion), whereas total loans and advances increased by 12.3% year-on-year to KD 20.1 billion (USD 66.0 billion), and total shareholders’ equity reached KD 3.4 billion (USD 11.2 billion), growing by 3.5% year-on-year.
Commenting on the Bank’s quarterly financial results, Mr. Isam Jasem A. Al-Sager, Vice-Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “During the first quarter of 2022, we recorded strong interim profits and continued to build on the operational momentum that we achieved over the past year; delivering another quarter of strong earnings amid continued growth across all of our business lines.”
He added that the operating environment in Kuwait continued to witness signs of recovery during the first quarter of 2022; thanks to the improvement in the pace of consumer spending and the steady increase in oil production that coincided with the noticeable rise in its prices. The hike in oil prices strengthened the fiscal position of the Government which reflected positively on business sentiment and activity. We are expecting an acceleration in the pace of project activities during the year, given the Government's commitment to implementing its strategic objectives and increasing the spend on infrastructure development.
“Our performance is supported by prudent risk management and excellent credit quality; and our investments in talent and technology supports stronger revenue growth, improved efficiency of our operations and maximized returns for our shareholders,” Al-Sager explained.
“The robust volume growth that the Bank achieved has further supported our strong performance delivered in our operating income; reaching KD 236.5 million and growing by 6.8% year-on-year. Furthermore, the significant growth in bottom line stems from the improvement in the cost of risk levels; thanks to proactive provisioning policy adopted by the Bank over the past two years,” Al Sager stressed.
In addition, Al-Sager mentioned that the Bank recorded healthy performance across strategic growth areas including Islamic banking and global wealth management. Moreover, the continuous improvement in the operating environment is expected to reflect positively on corporate credit growth. Moreover, fees and commission income growth benefited from the market activity as well as the strong relationships that the Bank established with its customers over the years.
Al-Sager also stated that the Bank continued to make good progress in advancing its strategic agenda towards digital transformation as well as executing its technological initiatives, including the launch of “Weyay Bank”, with its integrated package of advanced products and services to meet the demands of the Kuwaiti youth.
Al-Sager pointed out that NBK strives to embed ESG practices into its decision making process while developing approaches to assess climate change risk and integrating sustainability into NBK’s business plans. During the first quarter of 2022, and as the Bank continues to build a market leading position in sustainable development, NBK launched its Sustainable Financing Framework.
The framework aims to integrate environmental, social and governance practices into all our operations and support the transition to a more sustainable and low carbon economy; while enabling and promoting responsible business practices supporting Kuwait’s sustainable growth enshrined in New Kuwait Vision 2035.
Al-Sager stressed that in 2022, the Bank will continue to invest heavily in its employees, and focus on its approach to provide the best products and services that are tailored and in line with the ever-changing customers’ needs, while accelerating its commitments aimed at achieving strategic growth towards a sustainable future.
The most prominent results and indicators during the first quarter of 2022
• Net operating income of KD 236.5 million (USD 778.3 million), increasing by 6.8% compared to1Q 2021
• Total assets grew by 8.7% year-on-year, to KD 33.7 billion (USD 110.9 billion)
• Total loans and advances grew by 12.3% year-on-year to KD 20.1 billion (USD 66.0 billion)
• Customer deposits increased by 7.4% year-on-year to KD 18.3 billion (USD 60.3 billion)
• Strong asset quality metrics, with NPL/gross loans ratio at 1.12% and an NPL coverage ratio of 302%
• Robust Capital Adequacy Ratio of 17.8%, comfortably in excess of regulatory requirements
Kuwait: NBK Launches Sustainable Financing Framework29.03.2022
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) launched its Sustainable Financing Framework as it continues to build a market-leading position in sustainable development, enabling and promoting responsible business practices to help steer the economy towards long-term value creation, as well as supporting Kuwait National Adaptation Plan (NAP) addressing climate change.
The framework details the four core components of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) and Loan Market Association (LMA) principles, namely, Use of Proceeds, Process for Project Evaluation and Selection, Management of Proceeds and Reporting.
It is also aligned with the Green Bond Principles (GBP), Social Bond Principles (SBP) and Sustainability Bond Guidelines (SBG) published in June 2021 by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA).
Under the Sustainable Financing Framework, NBK can issue three types of instruments; First: Green Financing Instruments – the proceeds of which are exclusively allocated to Green Asset Categories. Second: Social Financing Instruments – the proceeds of which are exclusively allocated to Social Asset Categories. Third: Sustainability Financing Instruments – the proceeds of which are allocated to both Green or Social Asset Categories.
S&P Global Ratings provided its opinion on the alignment of NBK’s Sustainable Financing Framework with the components of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) and the Loan Market Association (LMA), confirming that the “Use of Proceeds” is strongly aligned with the applicable principles. Process for project evaluation and selection, Management of proceeds and reporting were also aligned with relevant principles.
Commenting on this development, Mr. Isam Al-Sager, Group Vice-Chairman and GCEO said: “The aim of establishing our sustainable financing framework is to integrate environmental and social governance standards into all our operations, in addition guides our transitions in support of a more sustainable and low carbon economy , all while supporting Kuwait’s sustainable growth enshrined in New Kuwait Vision 2035.
Emphasizing the importance of the framework, Al-Sager said that NBK’s sustainable financing framework is an important step bringing NBK closer to global capital markets, further strengthening NBK’s leading market position.
Al-Sager highlighted that NBK strives to embed ESG practices into its long-term strategies, in addition to developing approaches to assess climate change risk and integrating sustainability factors into NBK’s business plans.
He also pointed out that NBK has developed internal targets to reduce gross operational emissions by 25% by the year 2025. The Bank is also considering various technologies and R&D opportunities to expand its dependencies on renewable energy beyond 2025 with an aspiration to become net zero operationally by 2035.
Furthermore, NBK headquarters building has been designed and equipped with several environmentally- responsible aspects, “Being a certified LEED gold building, significantly improving all environmental factors that we collect, measure and report, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and paper and plastic recycling”, Al-Sager said.
He praised NBK’s significant progress in terms of women’s participation in the labour force, as well as female board representation both in Kuwait, and NBK’s international subsidiaries .
Additional governance measures included the restructuring of NBK Board Committees and the appointment of four independent members in the board of directors who bring with them extensive expertise in ESG practices. The Bank has also updated and published its policies to further enhance transparency, business ethics and integrity.
Al-Sager explained that NBK continues to focus on employee training and development, education, cybersecurity and data protection, in addition to the Bank’s commitment to labor and human rights practices.
NBK has expanded the scope of its sustainability disclosures and its commitment towards the principles of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as a main framework for reporting, in addition to aligning its reporting to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Kuwait’s National Development, and Boursa Kuwait’s voluntary sustainability disclosures.
It is worth mentioning that NBK is the first banking institution in Kuwait to issue a sustainability report highlighting the bank’s social, economic, and environmental initiatives and the implementation of corporate governance principles in accordance with the standards of Integrated Reporting (IR) Framework and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The bank’s efforts in this regard over the past years were recognized by inclusion in the FTSE4Good Index and the Refinitiv AFE Low Carbon Select Index in MENA, in which NBK ranked first among regionals banks and Kuwaiti companies in terms of the index’s weight.
Kuwait: NBK’s AGM Approved Distribution of 30% Cash Dividends and 5% Bonus Shares13.03.2022
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) held yesterday (Saturday, 12 March 2022), its annual Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) and Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) for 2021 with an attendance of 75.46%. The AGM approved the Board of Directors’ recommendation to distribute 30% cash dividends to shareholders (30 fils per share) in addition to 5% bonus shares (5 shares for every 100 shares owned). The general assembly also elected eleven members of the bank’s board of directors for the next 3-year term.
In his speech at the AGM, Mr. Nasser M. Al-Sayer, NBK Group Chairman mentioned that during last year, NBK remained committed to achieving its strategic objectives and goals, namely, to become broadly recognized as the trusted bank of choice in Kuwait, building on its core values, people, and expertise to deliver world-class products and the highest service quality to the customers, whilst also attracting top Kuwaiti talent.
We also were committed to maintaining our strategic course by accelerating investment in the innovation and digital transformation, we seek to grow our business in corporate, consumer and private banking. We also strive to strengthen our geography, products, and services – whilst also leveraging our expanding product portfolio to attract high-net-worth private banking clients, Al-Sayer noted.
Al-Sayer continued: “In achieving our goals, we were helped by the improved operating environment in view of easing the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s improving fiscal standing on the back of rebounding oil prices and increasing consumer spending, supported by loan payment deferrals, stable employment ratios among Kuwaiti nationals as well as reduced overseas travel. This was complemented by the continued support provided by the Central Bank of Kuwait to the banking sector by taking proactive measures that strengthened liquidity levels & capital ratios.”
“In the meantime, NBK remained in a highly attractive market position, as the leading banking Group in Kuwait in terms of assets, customer deposits and customer loans and advances. The bank ranked amongst the 50 safest commercial banks in the world, and the top 10 banks in the region and maintained its position as the most valuable banking brand in Kuwait.”
Supporting national economy
Al-Sayer explained: “Beside its superior financial and operational performance, NBK is committed to supporting the Government of Kuwait’s development plans. In particular, the bank is advancing the nation’s strategic agenda in terms of driving economic growth through the private sector to achieve increasing economic diversification. This includes our contribution to developing and expanding the nation’s financing infrastructure to enable growth in the SME sector and beyond, as well as our role as a key finance facilitator for the establishment of public–private partnerships (PPPs). We are also actively involved in the process of digitizing Kuwait’s economy, as a key partner in the government’s drive to expand the country’s digital innovation.”
Al-Sayer emphasized that as part of NBK’s commitment to promote sustainable future growth, we embarked on a new journey to achieve world-class environmental, social and governance (ESG), and initiated intensive planning in 2021 to devise a strategy to guide our sustainability initiatives going forward. Our ESG vision will place sustainability at the heart of our strategy, corporate culture, and operations across the Group.
Al-Sayer mentioned that during 2021, NBK continued to create a significant impact through a wide range of ESG initiatives and partnerships, which included reinforcing the responsibility of our Board committee and subcommittee to overseeing critical ESG issues and collaborating with a number of international financial institutions to develop an overall ESG strategy in this regard.
Al-Sayer extended sincere gratitude to the Bank’s executive management for their successful stewardship throughout 2021. Their dedication to NBK’s strategic objectives has been both admirable and highly effective in realizing our goals in yet another year of challenges.
Al-Sayer also stated that with the end of the current session of the Board of Directors, he has taken the decision not to run for the next elections of the Board. Meanwhile, he wished the new Board of Directors all success and progress in continuing NBK’s prosperous journey towards a future of sustainable growth. He also thanked the shareholders for their consistent support of all of the Bank’s strategic directions
On his part, Mr. Isam J. Al-Sager, NBK Group CEO, said in his speech: “During the past year, we achieved all our goals and exceeded expectations, despite the slowdown in the operating environment and the continued impacts of the pandemic, reflecting our robust business model and strategic focus on diversification.”
The year 2021 was another year of strong growth for our balance sheet, as assets grew by 11.9% year-on-year to reach KD 33.3 billion, whereas shareholders’ equity reached KD 3.3 billion and total loans and advances boosted by 12.7% to KD 19.7 billion, and customer deposits increased by 6.9% to KD 18.3 billion, he added.
During the past year, the Group was able to maintain high levels of capitalization with a capital adequacy ratio of 18.1%, exceeding the minimum regulatory ratios and Basel III requirements.
Asset quality metrics continued to improve, with NPL ratio reaching 1.04%, while the coverage ratio reached 300%, and the return on average shareholders’ equity increased to 10.2%, while the return on average assets grew to 1.15%, he continued.
On the other hand, Boubyan Bank, the Islamic arm of the Group, delivered strong operational results, and international operations contributed a healthy 25% to both the net operating income and the net profit of the Group, which enhances the strategy of diversifying the Group’s income sources, Al-Sager noted.
Al-Sager indicated that this performance places NBK on solid base making it well positioned for growth in the medium and long term; especially as we look to the future and focus on delivering sustainable and long-term returns to our shareholders.
In 2021, we established our Global Wealth Management (GWM) division through which we aim to grow our market share in asset management and expand our existing client base in regional markets including Saudi Arabia. In 2021, The Group’s assets under management exceeded USD 17.7 billion, leveraging our strong brand that is trusted by HNWIs across Kuwait and beyond, he added.
Al-Sager mentioned: “During this year, we further enhanced our capitalization through bond issuances that captured heavy subscription endorsing the continuous confidence of international investors in the Bank, also giving a testament to its unique reputation and position, and reflecting its credit profile which is among the strongest in Kuwait and the entire region.”
We also added more and more prestigious awards to our rich record in recognition of our accomplishments in providing top-notch products and services to our customers.
In addition, NBK continued to attract high-caliber national talent and serve the goals of New Kuwait Vision 2035 by increasing national labor ratio in the banking sector and supporting the national economy by recruiting local talent, he elaborated.
Taking the lead
On the sustainability level, we are proud of the progress made in embracing highest ESG standards and placing sustainability at the heart of our corporate culture.
We will continue to build on what we have achieved in our ESG agenda to remain, as always regarded, a role model in taking the lead in this regard, both locally and regionally. We will always remain committed to achieving responsible and sustainable growth, and will continue to share our successes with the communities in which we operate, he stressed.
We continue to generate strong revenues year after year, and our proactive digital transformation strategy and expansion of our digital infrastructure continue to drive our success, which is now seen as a springboard for regional growth and expansion, he added.
On the future outlook, Al-Sager said: “We are optimistic that the pace of economic recovery and improving operating environment will continue, supported by the strong hikes in oil prices, which would ease pressure on Kuwait’s budget and boost investment spending during the coming period.”
Al-Sager promised: “We remain committed to designing innovative products for our customers and constantly expanding our digital offerings. We will also work on upgrading our infrastructure to be more advanced and innovative in order to enrich customer experience, in addition to investing heavily in our human capital and strengthening our footprint in key growth markets including GCC countries and Egypt.”
Al-Sager concluded his speech by extending personal thanks to the Board of Directors for their wise counsel and guidance, as well as all Group staff at all levels for their unwavering dedication and commitment in delivering on their job duties under these exceptional circumstances. He also stated special thanks to NBK customers at home and abroad, stating that NBK look forward to provide with the best banking products and services that fully meet their expectations.
On the sidelines of the AGM, Mrs. Shaikha Al-Bahar, NBK Group Deputy GCEO, said: “We continued to invest heavily in implementing the Group’s digital transformation roadmap, despite the impact of the pandemic on our business. We had no doubts about our vision for digital transformation and preparing proactively for the next generation of digital banking services to maintain our leadership despite the operational challenges.”
“The digital agenda has become a key pillar in all our strategies, and we started bearing the fruits of our efforts in building a digital culture and mindset at Group level,” she added.
“As a result of the accelerated digital transformation strides, the banking services conducted through digital channels using NBK Mobile Banking, NBK Online Banking, ATMs and CDMs reached 97.6% of total banking transactions during 2021.”
Al-Bahar praised the role of NBK Group Digital Office as a key enabler in the organization for digital transformation, which is also responsible for increasing innovative products and service portfolio through Fintech partnerships.
In 2021, we achieved significant progress in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and building the necessary infrastructure for the strategy of increased reliance on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the future, she mentioned.
Al-Bahar added: “The year 2021 marked a milestone in our digital transformation and preparation for the future, with the launch of Weyay, the first digital bank in Kuwait, with the aim of increasing our market share of the Kuwaiti youth segment, being one of the bank’s key targets.”
Launching Weyay Bank comes in line with NBK’s proactive digital transformation strategy aiming to explore new markets. It may be introduced in other regional markets, and thus contribute to generating new revenues for the Group, she elaborated.
Al-Bahar said: “Our successful strategy for diversification and geographical expansion of our operations in the regional and international markets proved successful throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. From where we stand today and with what we have achieved in 2021, we are more confident in delivering a strong year building on the investments we have been making, and accelerating the implementation of our digital transformation roadmap in the key regional markets of Egypt and KSA.”
“The group continues to focus on the cross-selling opportunity to best leverage its large network of subsidiaries and branches as well as its widespread and diversified client base with special focus on wealth management in KSA and retail business in Egypt,” she added.
Speaking about the Egyptian market, Al-Bahar said: “We seek to expand in the retail and wholesale banking in the Egyptian market by investing in digital banking services and focusing on acquisition of new customers and simplifying banking transactions.”
“In Saudi Arabia, we will continue to strengthen our wealth management proposition and link it to the Group’s global wealth management platform, as we see huge potentials in this area. We also seek to increase our commercial banking offerings in the Saudi market to gradually develop and strengthen our presence in the Kingdom and increase its contribution to the Group’s bottom line,” she pointed out.
The bank of the future
Giving his take, Mr. Salah Y. Al-Fulaij, CEO of NBK-Kuwait, announced after the meeting: “2021 was a year of special success for NBK, during which it achieved significant progress in its digital transformation plans and agenda. It also successfully launched “Weyay”, as the first digital bank in Kuwait, which represents a leap in the bank’s efforts to become the bank of the future.”
“Weyay Bank is tailored to meet the evolving banking demands and expectations of Kuwaiti youth who represent third of the population, and a key feeder to NBK’s Consumer Banking Group customer base,” he added.
Al-Fulaij noted that with the increasing competitiveness in this segment, NBK acted to defend its market share by providing more attractive offers aiming to achieve more expansion and dominance in the youth segment by meeting their needs and changing the rules of the game by launching Weyay Bank.
Weyay would constitute a starting point towards launching similar strategies in other regional markets in which we operate to generate new revenues for the Group, he continued.
“NBK seeks that digital offering will ramp up growth and grow our market share and targeted segment penetration. We are using our digital investments and the capabilities built in Kuwait (including NBK Digital Factory) as a critical growth avenue in the short- and medium-term, particularly for growing our retail banking operations across the Group,” he added.
Al-Fulaj also mentioned that during 2021, the Corporate Banking Group succeeded in capturing new business opportunities within the oil sector, as projects began moving after the diminishing of the pandemic, and both oil and petrochemicals prices increased, delivering further growth across other strategically important sectors during the year.
Al-Fulaij noted that during the past year, the operating environment in Kuwait witnessed more signs of rebound that was characterized by higher consumer spending, improvement in business activity and volumes as well as gradual recovery in government spending and project awarding, which reached KD 1.5 billion in 2021.
Al-Fulaj mentioned that the infrastructure gap in Kuwait still requires large investments, and there lies opportunities for us to provide all investment services and solutions and advisory banking services, expecting that the pace of project awarding to rebound, as NBK sees promising opportunities from the regained momentum to Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects, as well as its efforts to consolidate its leading position as the advisory body of choice for the Kuwaiti oil and gas sector.
Al-Fulaij stated that NBK seeks to increase the growth in its AUM by expanding into new markets and reinforcing the existing relationships with clients. We have a regional platform for global asset management, through which we provide global investment products and services. In addition, we support our clients using its long experience and extensive knowledge of market trends and different business sectors.
Al-Fulaij emphasized that despite the outbreak of the pandemic, NBK continued to attract high-caliber talent throughout 2021, as during the year, it recruited 376 new employees, including 335 Kuwaitis, an up by 3.09%.
Al-Fulaij mentioned that NBK boasts the highest employee retention rates and the employer of choice in the private sector for talents and competencies, adding that the bank regards its employees as its most valuable asset, and therefore gives paramount care to their health and safety as well as to developing their talents.
Al-Fulaij pointed out that NBK’s employment policies are based on giving equal opportunities and are largely based on gender diversity, as female employees account for 45% of the total workforce, while national labor ratio reached 74.6% by the end of 2021.
He noted that the strategy of the recruitment team of Group Human Resources aims to attract high-caliber talent, support the goals of the New Kuwait Vision 2035, and strive to increase the national labor ratio in the banking sector, and support the national economy by soliciting and developing local talent.
Moreover, as part of the career development program, Al-Fulaij said that NBK delivered over 41,000 training hours to employees in 2021. It also provided various programs to over 335 trainees through a strategic partnership with LOYAC, and supported 40 fresh graduates through “Tamakan” career readiness program.