x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

CBI branches out with top 10 spot the target

Commercial Bank International plans to grow its branch network by two thirds and add 15 per cent more staff this year as it targets a spot among the UAE's 10 biggest banks.

Commercial Bank International plans to grow its branch network by two thirds and add 15 per cent more staff this year as it targets a spot among the UAE's 10 biggest banks.

CBI's senior executives laid out the bank's ambitious growth plan as they unveiled the bank's new brand to reflect its new partnership with Qatar National Bank (QNB).

QNB, the largest bank in the Middle East and North Africa region, upped its stake in the Dubai-based bank from 16.5 per cent to 39.9 per cent in August.

"We would like to be one of the top 10 banks in the UAE in the next three years," said Mohammed Sultan Al Qadi, the chairman of CBI's board of directors.

In terms of size, the lender was currently within the third tier of the country's banking system, said Mr Al Qadi. The bank yesterday opened three branches in Dubai and one in Ras Al Khaimah. By the end of the year it aims to add a further six branches.

Kris Babicci, the chief executive of CBI, enthused over the branches. "They are kitted out with iPads for customers to use, " he said.

The bank is investing in expanding its online services as well as re-launching products such as car loans, credit card offers and salary transfer facilities.

It hopes to rebalance its revenue base to an equal split between retail and corporate banking. At the moment, 40 per cent of its revenue comes from retail and 60 per cent from corporate banking.

It also aims to grow its staffing by 15 per cent this year from the existing number of 580. It has a target for 32 per cent of the staff to be Emirati by the end of the year.

But officials are keen for the expansion to stay within a manageable pace. "We want to make sure the growth is at a sustainable level," said Mr Babicci.

QNB cited "confidence in the prospects of the financial sector in the UAE" when it raised its stake in CBI. The bank has been on an international expansion in recent months, including taking Société Générale's holding in National Société Générale Bank - Egypt.

Under the CBI stake, QNB holds four positions on the bank's board of directors.

CBI hopes its new brand, which features the same logo as QNB, will benefit from the Qatari bank's growing profile. It ranked 120 on the list of the world's top 500 banking brands this year, according to an annual survey carried out by Brand Finance.

 

tarnold@thenational.ae