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Kuwait: NBK’s AGM Approved Distribution of 30% Cash Dividends and 5% Bonus Shares

13.03.2022

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.
Strategic course

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.

Leading position

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.”

ESG initiatives

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.

Significant impact

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

Exceeding expectations

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.

Solid base

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.

Investors’ confidence

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.”

Innovative products

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.

Digital agenda

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.

Ongoing expansion

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.

New opportunities

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.

Regaining momentum

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.

Trusted partner

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.

High-caliber talent

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.



Kuwait: NBK Embraces Environmental Transparency by Disclosing through CDP

18.01.2023

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) today announced that it has received a score of ‘C’ from CDP, a global non-profit that runs the world’s leading environmental disclosure platform, for its Climate Change and Forests 2022 Categories. This score is consistent with our roadmap to build environmental and socio-economic resilience. NBK furthered its commitment to environmental transparency by disclosing its environmental impact through CDP. NBK initially disclosed through CDP since 2021, and in June 2022 completed its first CDP’s Climate Change and Forests questionnaires.

Disclosing data around environmental impact is now a business norm. More than 680 financial institutions with US$130 trillion in assets and 280 purchasing organizations representing US$6.4 trillion in procurement spend requested environmental data from companies through CDP. A record 18,700+ companies responded in 2022.

NBK has one of the highest score of CDP disclosures among all financial institutions in the GCC and is the only financial institution who submitted this disclosure in Kuwait.

By disclosing through CDP, National Bank of Kuwait is prepared to respond to the increasing demand for environmental transparency from financial institutions, customers, and policymakers. In its disclosure, NBK shared the results of returning to more normal working patterns as employees moved into its new LEED GOLD HQ building and used 2021 as its new environmental performance baseline, to which we will compare our improvements in the coming years. We also shared our continued long-standing practice of annually assessing and reporting our environmental performance, including our energy and water consumption, waste and resource use, and greenhouse gas GHG emissions. Moreover, NBK highlighted how climate change presents risk and opportunities for the organization by examining in detail the best role for the bank to play in supporting our environmental and societal efforts to overcome this challenge and to grow the bank in the wisest pursuit of specific opportunities. NBK’s primary role will be its financing efforts to effectively respond to this challenge and increase its focus on climate change in our risk management processes. Additionally, in its disclosure, NBK transparently covered environmental commitments as a result of its publicly available Sustainable Financing Framework. These assurances included developing internal targets to reduce our gross operational emissions by 25% by the year 2025 and NBK’s ambition to integrate critical ESG issues into the business, culture and operations, thereby advancing the transition to a sustainable and low carbon economy and contributing to achieve Kuwait’s sustainability vision.

On this occasion, Mr. Isam Al-Sager, NBK Group Vice-Chairman and CEO Group, said: “Today, we are witnessing a new milestone in embracing sustainability that we started years back by being listed among the institutions disclosing the environmental impact of their operations through CDP, the world’s leading environmental disclosure platform.”

“This listing furthers NBK’s commitment to adopting greater transparency in disclosing the environmental impact of all its operations. This comes in line with focusing on embedding ESG standards into all its activities and reinforcing its contribution to supporting the transition towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy,” he indicated.

Al-Sager added: “Our listing in the CDP, coupled with the recent launch of our Sustainable Financing Framework, will further strengthen NBK’s accessibility to global capital markets, where it is already highly trusted and respected.”

“We are adamant to continue progressing towards advancing sustainable finance and responsible banking practices at the core of our operations and currently exploring technologies to support our aspiration to become net zero operationally by 2035,” Al-Sager continued.

“We continue to be committed to playing a responsible role in supporting global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change risks. To this end, we have set specific measurable and reportable targets, in line with our endeavors to integrate climate-related considerations in our future business model,” he noted.

On his part, Dexter Galvin, Global Director of Corporations and Supply Chains at CDP, commented, “Another year of extreme weather, including floods, droughts and record temperatures, has shown us that climate change is already posing a real and increasing risk to companies and their supply chains. Companies have a fundamental role to play in securing a sustainable net-zero, deforestation-free and water-secure world. It is only through measuring their environmental impact, risks and opportunities that they can manage them and prepare for the future. By disclosing through CDP, National Bank of Kuwait has taken a vital first step. I look forward to their continued dedication to transparency and action for the benefit of all people and the planet.”

It is worth mentioning that National Bank of Kuwait is one of the leading financial institutions in the region in terms of embracing sustainability practices, with major contributions appreciated by international institutions. This includes receiving the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certificate for its new Headquarters, recognizing the improvement achieved in all measured and reported environmental metrics including reducing GHG emissions, and increasing recycled paper and plastic. NBK was also listed on Refinitiv AFE Low Carbon Select Index in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Furthermore, National Bank of Kuwait is the largest financial institution in Kuwait and has actual predominance in the commercial banking sector. The bank enjoys one of the highest credit ratings among all banks in the region, collectively from global rating agencies: Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch.

CDP is a global non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions. Founded in 2000 and working with more than 680 financial institutions with over $130 trillion in assets, CDP pioneered using capital markets and corporate procurement to motivate companies to disclose their environmental impacts, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Nearly 20,000 organizations around the world disclosed data through CDP in 2022, including more than 18,700 companies worth half of global market capitalization, and over 1,100 cities, states and regions.

The full list of companies disclosing through CDP can be accessed here:

https://www.cdp.net/en/responses