Emirates NBD aims to double SME lending in 2013

Emirates NBD expects lending to small businesses to double and top AED1bn (US$272m) next year as Dubai's largest bank diversifies away from corporate and personal financing.

Suvo Sarkar, ENBD's head retail banking, said on Tuesday the lender has a quarter of the market in lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the United Arab Emirates.

"This year the size of our lending to SMEs doubled from last year and we expect them to double in 2013 from 2012. I would say this will exceed AED1bn 2013," he told Reuters.

Banks in the United Arab Emirates are increasingly focusing on small business lending following restrictions from the central bank on personal loans for individuals.

Corporate lending in the country has suffered during the past three years as companies grappled with debt.

"SMEs are expected to contribute more than 40 percent of the country's GDP in 2013," Sarkar said.

Emirates NBD, formed by the 2007 merger of Emirates Bank and National Bank of Dubai and which acquired Dubai Bank in 2010, will see revenue propped up by lending to SMEs, he said.

"We are seeing lot of action in food and beverage, travel and tourism, oil field services and construction.

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