x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Pudner to step down as chief of Emirates NBD

Rick Pudner is to step down as chief executive of Emirates NBD after a seven-year tenure that took in the fanfare of the region's biggest bank merger.

Rick Pudner is to step down as the chief executive of Emirates NBD after a seven-year tenure that took in the fanfare of the region's biggest bank merger cut short by the ensuing financial crisis.

The veteran British banker will leave the UAE's largest lender by assets at the end of the year. He joined the company as chief executive of the then Emirates Bank International in 2006.

"He is expected to complete his tenure with Emirates NBD at the end of the year, then he will hand over the role to a new leader as part of the succession planning process and the organisation's strategy for change and transformation," said a spokesman for the bank. "We take this opportunity to thank Rick for his continued significant contributions and wish him all the best in his future endeavours."

Mr Pudner oversaw the merger of Emirates Bank International with National Bank of Dubai to create what was once the biggest bank in the Middle East by total assets.

The two were merged in 2007, with the blessing of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in an effort to create a "national champion".

However, the bank was highly exposed to the emirate's property crash and has had to set aside billions of dirhams in provisions. It received Dh12.6 billion (US$3.43bn) in Tier 2 capital injected as part of a Dh70bn Ministry of Finance support of the UAE banking sector in 2008.

"As group CEO, he has contributed to all the achievements of the bank. This includes the completion of one of the largest mergers in the region, overcoming one of the most difficult financial crises that hit the world and the takeover and integration of Dubai Bank, just to name a few," the bank said.

Dubai Bank was rescued by the emirate's government in May 2011, its balance sheet cleaned up by the Ministry of Finance before being resold to Emirates NBD for just Dh10 in October that year.

In spite of its acquisition, Emirates NBD has since been eclipsed by Qatar National Bank as the region's biggest following a string of six acquisitions last year, but it remains the UAE's largest lender.

Emirates NBD was able to raise $750 million in Tier 2 capital from bond markets this year, as it moves closer to shuffling off its remaining Dh10bn in crisis-era funding.

The resignation, which had been expected by the industry, is described by the bank as part of its transformation strategy, which began when Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum was appointed chairman of Emirates NBD by royal decree.

Sheikh Ahmed is the chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline, the president of Dubai's Civil Aviation Authority, and sits on the board of Investment Corporation of Dubai, the conglomerate owned by the emirate's government.

The move comes within a year of the announcement that Michael Tomalin would retire as chief executive of National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

The capital's biggest lender announced this month that Alex Thursby, currently the chief executive of the international and institutional banking division at ANZ, would succeed Mr Tomalin as chief executive.

In July, RAKBank's chief executive, Graham Honeybill, is also standing down.