National Bank of Bahrain is bulking up staff numbers in its Abu Dhabi and Riyadh branches to capitalise on strong business ties between Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to CEO Jean Christophe Durand.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Durand said that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are “two countries which have special links with Bahrain”.
“Therefore, there is a lot of trade, investment, financial flows and exchanges of between,” he said. “As the National Bank of Bahrain, our strategy is to capitalise on this proximity and the trading relationship between the markets.”
In Riyadh, Durand said that the bank has doubled its staff numbers and hired Saudi talent in a bid to encourage more local firms to choose them when doing business in Bahrain.
“To do that, we need to be able to demonstrate we can support them. They can benefit from products we are developing, coverage and new capital markets. We can support their marketing efforts,” he said. “In Saudi Arabia we’ve changed the strategy completely. In the past it wasn’t very expansionary. It was an average level of business.”
In the neighbouring UAE - which Durand said “has not been exploited to its full potential” - NBB is also working to recruit new personnel and “select new clients were NBB can add value”.
“Competing on the local market without adding an angle is not the way to penetrate,” he added, noting that companies such as Al Futtaim and LuLu Group already have a presence in Bahrain. “If we manage to establish the most efficient links for them, they’ll choose us.”
“Ideally, when Emiratis or Saudis think about doing business in Bahrain, they should think of NBB,” he said.
In January, NBB announced that net profits went up 14.8 percent to $186.1 million, with fourth quarter net profits going up 29.3 percent to $39.9 million compared to the previous year.