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BBK on a major expansion drive

Manama, September 4, 2008

BBK, one of the largest retail banks in Bahrain, is pushing ahead with a major expansion strategy that will see it expand overseas, launch its own Islamic bank and move into equity investment.

The bank is undergoing a strategic transformation, reflecting the change in its shareholder-base earlier this year.

But it remains committed to be a leading retail operation and will continue to roll out its unique financial malls concept across the kingdom.

Under its old name of the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait, it was owned 50 per cent by Bahrainis and 50pc by Kuwait interests.

Now the shareholding structure has the Social Insurance Organisation holding 32 per cent of its shares, Ithmaar Bank with 26 per cent, Global Investment House 19 per cent, Bahraini individuals 17 per cent and the rest held by Kuwaiti interests.

This has moved the bank to look at investment banking and other fields.

Chief executive officer Abdulkarim A Bucheery outlined the group's ambitious plans as it gears up to produce its next three-year plan.

'Outside Bahrain we have a large branch in Kuwait, an office in Dubai and offices in India at Mumbai and Hyderabad,' Bucheery told our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.

'We are now looking to expand aggressively in India and are looking at opening operations in Chennai, Pune and Kochi.

'We need to actively serve the high number of non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the region and we also want to have a strong presence in the booming Indian economy so we are looking at ways of establishing a presence there,' he said.

The bank is also in the process of creating the Al Khaleej Islamic Bank (AKIIB) so that it can offer Islamic banking solutions to its customers who want to switch from traditional banking.

'The bank is now also actively pursuing participating in direct equity investment and to achieve this we have set up Naseej Holdings which will take equity stakes in companies, particularly in real estate,' he said.

'And we are also setting up Al Osra, a family bank that will provide funding for very small enterprises. We are working on this with the Social Affairs Ministry.'

The bank has strengthened its team by bringing ABC banker Shaikh Rashed Al Khalifa on board as its deputy chief executive for business and, from the Central Bank of Bahrain Dr Abdul Rahman Saif as its head of treasury investment.

As part of its move to strengthen its human resources, it has increased salaries to key staff.

Elsewhere, the bank is launching a transactional banking division with will offer a complete cash management solution to companies covering everything from payroll to payments and receivable and has brought in a team from abroad to manage this operation.

BBK launched its financial mall concept in Adliya in 2006, offering customers full banking services in an environment where they can purchase everything from telecommunications to insurance, real estate and car loans.

'Financial malls are a concept that BBK pioneered and we will be opening our fifth one shortly,' he added.

'We are planning a new financial mall in Isa Town by the middle of next year and we are in the process of signing a lease for another one in Exhibition Road. We are also going to develop one at Suq Waqef in Hamad Town and have a financial mall in the new Bahrain City Centre shopping mall.' - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Ithmaar Bank | BBK | Global Investment House | Islamic bank | Social Insurance Organisation |

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