Bahrain-based Arab Banking Corporation (Bank ABC) said it had recorded strong underlying operating performance in 2020 despite market factors resulting in a net profit of $282 million compared to $351 million in 2019.
Announcing its results for the year ended December 31, 2020, Bank ABC said the year was like no other, impacted by unprecedented and deeply challenging conditions.
The group had a strong start to the year supported by a robust balance sheet, good client transaction pipeline and a clear plan for growth driven by our digital agenda and wholesale bank transformation, it stated.
However, as the year progressed, Bank ABC 's results were heavily impacted by the unique combination of Covid-19, collapse in oil prices and consequent economic and market pressures, together with the emergence of some major regional fraud cases, it added.
Group Chairman Saddek Omar El Kaber said: "2020 has been a year like no other. Our performance has been overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic with its consequent lockdowns and market uncertainties including low interest rates and low oil prices, compounded by unprecedented fraud cases in the region."
"Against this turbulent backdrop, Bank ABC was able to demonstrate its resilience and agility in adapting to the 'new normal'," he stated.
It had responded early to the pandemic, with measures to protect its staff, strengthen operational resilience, contain costs during Q1 2020 itself and at the same time continued to invest in strategic priorities.
El Kaber said the bank took its digital transformation, during the year, to new levels, completely changing the banking experience of its customers in Bahrain, with its world-class mobile-only digital bank, ila, significantly exceeding our expected growth targets.
In addition, ila won the Seamless Middle East 2020 award for Digital Banking Experience of the Year – 2020, and four Transform Middle East awards for its visual identity, he added.
According to him, Bank ABC had identified an opportunity during the crisis for inorganic growth in its core market Egypt, having some of the best fundamentals in terms of population and growth potential for banking services.
After extensive due diligence and negotiations, Bank ABC had entered into an agreement to acquire 99.4% stake in Blom Bank Egypt, providing an excellent franchise addition and platform for growth, he stated.
Overall in 2020, the underlying business and client revenues held up well in all its markets of operation, achieving 91% of previous year levels, when normalised for hedging and adjusted for uncontrollable market factors, he added.-TradeArabia News Service