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Mon 24 Nov 2014 05:24 PM

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UAE banks close to resolving credit bureau liability issue - NBAD boss

Some of the country's biggest lenders have been refusing to use bureau services following recent launch

UAE banks close to resolving credit bureau liability issue - NBAD boss
Alex Thursby, chief executive of National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD).

Banks in the United Arab Emirates are close to resolving a liability issue over information provided by the Gulf Arab state's new credit bureau, the head of the country's largest bank by assets said on Monday.

Authorities see the recently-opened Al Etihad Credit Bureau as a safeguard against a repeat of the credit bubble that undermined the economy at the end of the last decade.

The state-run bureau collates bank data on people's credit histories, aiming to give lenders a better picture of whether borrowers are likely to be able to manage their debt.

However Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, head of the Gulf state's banking lobby group, said last week some of the biggest lenders were refusing to use the bureau's services due to its refusal to accept liability for the soundness of the data.

"We are close, commercial issues are being sorted out," Alex Thursby, chief executive of National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), told reporters on the sidelines of a company event on Monday, without elaborating.

"We have started passing the information over to the credit bureau. I think it is critical for the future success of the banking industry."

The bureau had no immediate comment on Monday.

It had responded to the banking lobby group's comments last week by saying that more than 30 subscribers including banks and other institutions in the UAE were using its services. Its credit reports had a data accuracy of 99.5 percent, higher than international standards, it said.

Thursby said separately he expected the pressure on UAE banks' profitability from lending would remain in 2015 and that NBAD would continue to expand its other product areas to compensate.

While the Gulf region's excess liquidity makes earning revenue from lending difficult, it opens up opportunities for asset management.

Thursby said his bank has developed a funds business for individuals and institutions, having already attracted large sovereign institutions and pension funds from the Gulf and Asia.

"The day of the western banks dominating (asset management) is gone," Thursby said. "It is the eastern banks like NBAD that have the opportunity, 2008 was a change of the world," he added.

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