Ithmaar says strategic moves paying off
Manama, April 1, 2012
Ithmaar Bank remains firmly committed both to its shareholder and to Bahrain, and has delivered on promises it made last year by significantly increasing its income and expanding its retail banking network despite last year' challenges, said a senior official.
Addressing shareholders at the bank's annual general meeting (AGM) in Bahrain, board member Shaikh Zamil Abdullah Al Zamil on Saturday said the board is confident that the bank's strategic commitments are paying off.
Shaikh Al Zamil, who chaired the AGM on behalf of Ithmaar Bank chairman Prince Amr Mohammed Al Faisal, also said that the bank had recorded impressive achievements in 2011.
"Ithmaar Bank has played a pioneering role in the establishment and subsequent development of Islamic banking and finance in Bahrain - and we are as determined as ever to continuing that role," said Shaikh Al Zamil.
"In line with that commitment, we invested tremendous amounts of time, effort and money throughout 2011 in expanding our retail network and improving our offerings," he said.
"As a result, despite the depressed and troubled global market conditions and the unprecedented local and regional political turmoil, the bank posted a total income of $451 million in 2011, an increase of 2.9 per cent over the previous year," said Shaikh Al Zamil.
"Although the balance sheet grew a modest 2.3 per cent to reach $6.9 billion during the year, the growth in customer deposits (current accounts and unrestricted investment accounts) and financing were far more impressive.
"Customer deposits increased by 23.5 per cent to $1.48 billion, while financing increased 8.7 per cent to $2.73 billion," he said.
"Despite improved performance and a stronger retail focused balance sheet, in the year under review, shareholders sustained a net loss of $62.9 million, notwithstanding a strong 58 per cent recovery over last year's loss of $150.4 million," said Shaikh Al Zamil.
"In particular, the board is pleased to note the steady improvement recorded by Ithmaar Bank in most key performance areas," he said.
"This, we feel, confirms that the bold strategy of transforming Ithmaar into an Islamic retail bank following its reorganisation in 2010 with its then wholly-owned subsidiary, Shamil Bank, has proved correct," he said.
Chief executive Mohammed Bucheerei said that despite the turbulence of 2011, Ithmaar had continued to record significant achievements.
"Even as Bahrain and the world economies were engulfed in serial crises that sapped the confidence of investors and consumers alike, Ithmaar continued to focus on developing its retail banking offerings," said Bucheerei.
"The results, this year, from our Islamic retail banking operations fully bear out our decision - the contribution of retail banking to revenue is the largest amongst internal business units.
"Encouraged by our reputation for fair dealing, and through well-designed products and services as well as innovative advertising campaigns, customers have been quick to sign up with us," he said.
"We also increased our branch and ATM networks, invested in personnel development and improved a number of core systems," he said.
Earlier this year, Bucheerei announced that, as part of its ambitious expansion plans, the bank is increasing its focus on technology and has adopted a bold new three-year IT strategy.
"The new strategy focuses on the four mega trends in technology that will shape our collective futures - cloud computing, social computing, mobile computing and information management - and sets an ambitious road map that will see the bank completely restructure its IT department, adding new roles and eliminating legacy applications.
"The strategy will, in turn, contribute directly and in a very significant way to Ithmaar Bank's growth and the way it conducts its business," said Bucheerei.
"New delivery channels will be introduced and existing one dramatically improved as product innovation becomes a natural extension of our day-to-day activities," he said.-TradeArabia News Service