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MOVE INTO RETAIL BANKING

GIB planning major regional expansion

Manama, August 26, 2013

Bahrain-based Gulf International Bank (GIB), one of the longest established financial institutions in the kingdom, has unveiled plans to expand across the region by launching a retail banking network.

The investment bank plans to launch its retail operations in the future from a base in Saudi Arabia, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

In an exclusive interview with the GDN, the bank said this would be part of a move that would see it operate retail banking across the GCC.

"This is part of a major expansion on behalf of the bank," said chief financial officer Stephen Williams.

"It is part of our strategy to create a universal banking platform which will also include our wholesale banking operations. We are planning to expand our operations and we have already been recruiting to do this.

"In January, we hired a further 20 graduate trainees and we are looking to take on a further 20 now. We are looking at hiring about 100 new employees," he added.

He said that the bank was not prepared at this time to discuss the branding of the new retail operation or the timing of its launch.

Commenting on rumours that the bank was closing down its Bahrain operations, he said that the exact opposite was the truth.

"We are expanding," he said. "We had 555 employees at the end of last year and that is up from the 484 people we employed at the end of the previous year. We have heard these rumours, but I do not know where they come from.

"We have had talks with both the Labour Ministry and the Central Bank of Bahrain about this," he added.

"We are a Bahrain-based bank and we intend to remain a Bahrain-based bank even though we are growing our business in Saudi Arabia.

"Being in Bahrain gives us a lot of advantages. We are a largely Saudi Arabian-owned bank but half of the assets on our balance sheet are elsewhere in the GCC," he said.

"We are not going to discuss details at this time but we are a Bahrain bank that is expanding and taking on staff," he added. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | Retail banking | Gulf International Bank |

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