x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ajman Bank gets new chief as speculation grows

Ajman Bank has named its new chief executive as speculation mounts that a large investor is building a position in the bank.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - November 8, 2011 - Ajman Bank business stock. ( DELORES JOHNSON / The National )
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - November 8, 2011 - Ajman Bank business stock. ( DELORES JOHNSON / The National )

Ajman Bank has replaced its acting chief executive, Mohamed Amiri, as speculation mounts that a large investor is building a position in the bank.

The Islamic lender said in a statement yesterday that it had appointed Mohammad Zaqout, currently the executive vice president of Al Hilal Bank's personal finance group, as the chief executive from April 21.

"The Central Bank has been notified to obtain its approval," Ajman Bank said in a statement, which did not give a reason for Mr Amiri's departure.

A spokeswoman for Al Hilal Bank, fully owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, confirmed that the bank was seeking a replacement for Mr Zaqout to head its retail bank but declined to comment further.

Ajman Bank has had a number of new senior management departures during the past year.

In January last year, the chief executive Mubashar Khokhar resigned from the bank, citing "personal reasons".

In October, Ali Al Nuaimi stood down as Ajman Bank's managing director, though he remained on its board.

Ajman Bank, which was established in 2008 and began operations a year later, reported net profit of Dh8.28 million (US$2.25m) for the fourth quarter of 2012, down 29.7 per cent from the corresponding period a year earlier. Ajman Bank is 25 per cent owned by the emirate's government.

The bank has been at the centre of persistent rumours since late last September that it was the target of an Abu Dhabi-based investor, which it denied in November.

The bank is not seeking new investment and "does not require a financial partner to oversee its strategic plan", it said at the time.

However, that has done little to quell speculation among traders that an accumulation of the bank's shares is taking place after a series of large block trades.

Trading activity has increased around the bank's shares, which have gained as much as 98 per cent since the end of September. An unidentified investor bought 3.8 per cent of Ajman Bank's shares this week, further stoking speculation.

This week's large block trade, along with a further 8.8 per cent stake traded during February, has convinced some investors that a behind-the-scenes deal to acquire the bank's shares has taken place, and has urged greater disclosure from the bank about the identity of its new investor.

Ajman Bank shares fell 0.6 per cent to Dh1.55 each yesterday.

In September, a series of similar block trades sparked speculation around the identity of an investor in Commercial Bank International, a Dubai-based lender.

The buyer was later revealed to be Qatar National Bank, which was increasing its share to 40 per cent.

 

ghunter@thenational.ae