Iraq Trade Bank to expand into Lebanon, Turkey
Abu Dhabi, May 23, 2013
State-owned Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) plans to expand its domestic presence as well as open branches in Lebanon and Turkey to tap growing trade between the countries, the bank's top executive said on Thursday.
The bank, set up in 2003, operates as a commercial bank with a virtual monopoly on letters of credit, which are used in international trade to guarantee government purchases.
TBI is awaiting approval from the Lebanese authorities and plans to apply soon for a licence in Turkey, Hamdiyah al-Jaff, president and chairwoman of the bank told Reuters in an interview.
The bank has 16 branches across Iraq will add three new ones there in 2013, she said.
"We are seeing growing trade activities between Iraq and countries like Lebanon, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates and we would like to expand our commercial operations and credit portfolio," she said on the sidelines of an energy conference.
Al-Jaff said there was a growing Iraqi population in those countries, and TBI would look at entering the UAE when the opportunity arose.
The bank's core business is trade finance but it also plans to be active in project finance, industrial and agricultural finance.
"A lot of projects are coming up in Iraq in different sectors, so we want to be part of this."
Iraq has big plans to build oil export infrastructure to meet an anticipated hike in crude production but lacks sufficient funding after years of war, sanctions and decline that left its economy shattered.
TBI is involved in an $18 billion project to build an oil pipeline between Basra in Iraq and Aqaba in Jordan, she said, without elaborating as plans are still being finalized.
Unlisted TBI, whose net profit grew 34 percent last year, expects similar or higher growth in 2013 as it expands its business, she said, adding that bank made a net profit of $488 million last year, its highest in the past four years.
The bank, which started with capital of $100 million in 2003, is capitalized at around $800 million. – Reuters