Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 October 2019

Abu Dhabi's FAB to relinquish its Qatar Financial Centre licence and close branch

The move is not expected to have any impact on future group performance, the lender says

First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE's biggest bank by assests - stability in oil price has helped lift the growth prospects of lenders in the wider GGC market. Chris Whiteoak / The National
First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE's biggest bank by assests - stability in oil price has helped lift the growth prospects of lenders in the wider GGC market. Chris Whiteoak / The National

First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) is relinquishing its Qatar Financial Centre licence and closing operations in the country's financial free zone, which will have no material impact on the future performance of the biggest UAE lender.

Treating FAB QFC customers fairly "is of paramount importance", the lender said in a statement on Wednesday, and it will safeguard the rights and interests of its customers through an "orderly wind-down" of the branch. FAB has already put in place appropriate measures to protect all of its QFC branch employees and customers, the bank added.

The FAB’s Qatar branch contributed less than 0.03 per cent of FAB’s full-year 2018 net profit, and relinquishing the QFC branch license “is not expected to have any material impact on future group performance or strategy”, the bank said.

“FAB’s decision to close its QFC branch follows many months of baseless actions by the QFCRA (Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority) that have made it impossible for FAB’s operations to continue in Qatar,” the lender noted.

FAB said QFCRA's allegations that it has conducted transactions intended to manipulate the Qatari currency are “entirely false and FAB unequivocally denies them”. The bank conducts its business in accordance with the highest professional standards and in full compliance with the laws and regulations of all the jurisdictions in which it operates, it added.

FAB said it made “good faith efforts” to engage with the QFCRA to resolve the matter, with its QFC branch providing all the relevant and responsive information it was required to disclose pursuant to QFC law.

“Despite FAB’s attempts to resolve matters with the QFCRA, it is clear that no solution is attainable,” the bank said. “Consequently, FAB has been left with no option but to make a business decision to close its QFC branch.”

FAB in April reported a 4 per cent year-on-year rise in first quarter net profit, meeting analyst estimates, as its loans portfolio grew and charges for bad loans fell.

Net income for the three-month period to the end of March climbed to Dh3.1 billion, the lender said in a statement. The quarterly income was in line with the mean estimate of Dh3.07bn from analysts polled by Bloomberg. Impairments for bad loans for the Abu Dhabi-listed bank shrunk 7 per cent per cent to Dh407 million, at the end of March, it said in a statement at the time.

Updated: June 19, 2019 03:29 PM

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