Banks pledge to stay in Bahrain
Manama, April 13, 2011
Bahrain's standing as a top financial hub has been given the seal of approval by global and national banking chiefs who pledged to stay in the Kingdom since "Bahrain was where they belonged and where they would do business."
'No-one is leaving. They are all here to stay and this is where they do their business,' said Economic Development Board (EDB) business development and financial services director Boyd Winton at a meeting held in the Gulf Hotel on Tuesday.
Responding to rumours that several banks and financial institutions were thinking of leaving Bahrain in the wake of the unrest, he said these were untrue.
'Just four have decided to leave and that too is unrelated to the present situation,' he said while addressing the media after the meeting, organised by the Bahrain Association of Banks (BAB).
'While two of them had planned to leave Bahrain well before the present situation developed, the other two have said they would leave by the end of the year,' he said.
'While one of the two who are leaving by the end of the year is moving elsewhere in the region, the other is quitting the region altogether,' he added.
'There are virtually no job losses in the sector and we do not anticipate any.
'We have been active in talking to all the banks and financial institutions and all have expressed their confidence in Bahrain and have categorically said they are not going anywhere.
'They have been doing business here and will continue to do so,' he added.
He said there are already at least 10 new applications for banking and financial institutions in Bahrain.
'These, when approved, will add to the 135 banking licences and a total of 407 financial institutions which do business in the country.'
Mr Winton said sometimes things happen in fast emerging markets like Bahrain.
'All banks have healthy balance sheets and they are prepared to handle such situations,' he said.
'There has been an effect for sure but there is already a recovery. We anticipate there will be a full recovery after the summer and Ramadan, which is a typically lean time for the banking industry,' he added.
Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait chief executive and BAB chairman Abdulkarim Bucheery said the present situation had shown the amount of confidence banks had in Bahrain.
'All the banks are very comfortable in their books and are prepared to handle any crisis. They were all well-positioned to handle the situation.
'Now that the worst is over, there is bound to be growth,' he added.
Standard Chartered Bank Bahrain CEO Jonathan Morris said their strategy remained unchanged and they intend to continue to invest in their business in Bahrain.
'We have opened two new branches as well as refurbished a number of our other branches to ensure that our customers enjoy the best service possible,' he said.
'We plan to invest in our distribution again this year and are also planning to hub our global Arabic call centre in Bahrain,' he added.
He said the bank's brand promise - 'Here for good' - captured the essence of who they were.
'We are a bank that sticks by its clients and customers through good times and bad.
'We are committed to having a positive impact on the broader economy and on the communities in which we live and work,' he added.-TradeArabia News Service