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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Iraq’s TBI eyes regional expansion with Saudi branch licence

Iraqi government-owned lender plans to launch asset management business in ADGM

Faisal Al Haimus, chairman of TBI, with ADGM chairman Ahmed Al Sayegh, at the opening of the bank's representative office in the Abu Dhabi free zone. Antonie Robertson / The National
Faisal Al Haimus, chairman of TBI, with ADGM chairman Ahmed Al Sayegh, at the opening of the bank's representative office in the Abu Dhabi free zone. Antonie Robertson / The National

Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI), the largest trade financing institution in Iraq, is expanding into the Arabian Gulf, its first foray outside its home market, with plans to open a branch in Saudi Arabia next year and launch asset management business in Abu Dhabi, its chairman Faisal Al Haimus said.

“We have received the approval of central bank of Iraq to set up a branch in Saudi Arabia and we have an application logged about a month ago with Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority [Sama],” Mr Al Haimus told The National in Abu Dhabi. “We have been verbally assured that they are treating our application as urgent,” he noted, adding that TBI expects a positive response from Sama.

Expansion in the kingdom, Opec’s biggest oil producer, is expected to happen in the second half of next year, he said, adding that there are several options the lender is considering to expand its footprint and cooperation with other banks in the GCC region.

TBI, which is wholly-owned by the government of Iraq, on Sunday opened its representative office in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Abu Dhabi's financial free zone. The lender plans to upgrade its ADGM licence to that of an asset management company.

“That’s the intention,” Mr Al Haimus said when asked if the bank plans further expansion in Abu Dhabi.

“We see a lot of value ... especially in terms of private banking, possibly for the Iraqi community in the UAE and also to gain experience in [the asset management] field as this will be first time we will be looking at this type of activity,” he noted.

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“Our choice for ADGM is to actually have it as a hub for our increased collaboration with the regional banks and also with countries within the GCC.”

The representative office of ITB, which controls 80 per cent of the market share in Iraq, is the lender’s first foray out of its home market.

Established in July 2003 with the aim of helping the reconstruction of Iraq by facilitating international trade after the end of the United Nation’s oil-for-food programme, the Baghdad-based TBI has grown rapidly and has presence in 25 locations across Iraq.

The bank reported total assets of US$19.7 billion and a net income of $453.9 million at the end of 2016.

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