EXCLUSIVE: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank plans global growth

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Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) is planning to expand its wealth management and private banking division with a new office in London and further units across the Middle East, Asia and mainland Europe, a senior executive told Arabian Business in an interview on Wednesday.

“From a private banking perspective, I have three offices across the UAE but we need to have a way [of]booking assets in other parts of the world so we are just in the process of opening our branch in London, which we can use as a service centre when our clients visit during the summer,” said Stuart Crocker, global head of private banking group at ADIB.

In addition to the new UK base, Crocker said the Islamic lender is also planning to open more offices in the region and in Europe and Asia.

“We are certainly going to be looking at various locations across the Middle East and we will share that information in due course.

“We also need to have a few international booking centres and it would make sense to have something in Switzerland and it would make sense to have something in the Far East, somewhere like Singapore,” he said.

Last year, the bank also launched a concierge service for its private banking clients, branded as ADIB Lifeestyle, and it is planning to roll out this service this year.

“We have formed ADIB Lifestyle, if you would like us to organise your daughter’s wedding we can do it [or] we can charter planes... we launched it a year ago,” Crocker said.

“[Uptake] has been slow because we have been building the capability but what we are doing is the operators of the company are bringing our private bankers out and showing them what they can do and educating them… We are going to have a launch event in May,” he added.

ADIB in February reported a 2011 fourth quarter net profit growth of 35 percent, helped by higher fee and commission income and lower provisions.

The lender made AED338.6m (US$92.3m) in the last three months of 2011, compared with AED250.6m a year earlier, it said in a statement, as fees, commissions and foreign exchange rose 11.3 percent.

"ADIB's enhanced transaction banking and advisory-based investment banking franchises more than compensated for the decline in personal banking fees," the bank said.

Full year net profit grew 17.3 percent to AED1.425bn. Net customer financing increased to AED48.8bn in 2011, up 1.8 percent over 2010 while customer deposits decreased by 2.4 percent to AED55.2bn in 2011.

Tirad Mahmoud, CEO of the bank said the operating environment remains challenging as the global financial crisis continues.

"We expect low single digit growth in both assets and liabilities for the UAE banking sector in 2012," he said, adding further provisions and impairments will be booked.

Most banks in the UAE have seen single digit growth in loans and advances as well as in deposits in the last year.

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