Bank's operating profit exceeds KD 100 million mark for first time

Talal Mohammed Reza Behbehani and Michel Accad

KUWAIT: Al-Ahli Bank of Kuwait (ABK), yesterday announced its financial results for the fiscal year ended 31st December, 2018. The Bank delivered a strong set of results with a net profit of KD 42.1 million, up 18.1 percent year-on-year. Operating Income was KD 168.8 million, up 7.5 percent over last year, while operating profit was up 6 percent to KD 103.7 million. Total assets reached KD 4.5 billion, up 4.3 percent from 2017, and total Shareholders' Equity increased by KD 12.8 million, reaching KD 585 million. Earnings per share increased to 26 fils, up by 4 fils. The ABK Board of Directors have proposed a distribution of 14 fils per share cash dividend compared to 12 fils in 2017, subject to the approval of ABK's General Assembly meeting.

ABK's customer deposits witnessed an increase of 6 percent over the same period last year to reach KD 3.1 billion. Asset quality remained very solid with the non-performing loan (NPL) ratio at 1.78 percent and NPL coverage well over 300 percent. The bank's capital adequacy ratio and Tier 1 capital ratio was 19.15 percent and 17.94 percent, respectively. The bank continues to maintain strong credit ratings on both Fitch and Moody's, receiving A+ and A2 ratings respectively.

Commenting on the results, Talal Mohammed Reza Behbehani, Chairman of ABK said: "Over the past year, the bank has continued its steady growth trajectory despite a challenging global macro-economic environment. Our prudent business model has enabled us to deliver a robust and profitable operating performance across all our core businesses. For the first time in the history of ABK, we have surpassed the KD 100 million operating profit.

"I firmly believe that our 'Simpler Banking' strategy will fuel the future development of ABK, and create greater long-term value to our customers and shareholders.

"ABK was the first Kuwaiti bank to open its doors in the UAE 40 years ago, to serve the interests of Kuwaiti businesses abroad. Driven by this commitment, we have further extended our reach in the UAE by opening a new DIFC branch that will serve as the Group's Corporate Finance hub and support our corporate and multinational clients in expanding their regional footprint," he said.

Shortly after opening the DIFC branch, ABK signed an agreement with Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) for a revolving credit facility worth $800 million. The four-year facility was substantially oversubscribed.

Michel Accad, Group CEO of ABK said: "The sustained growth of ABK is built on our commitment to our core value pillars - Transparency, Integrity, Simplicity and Excellence. At an operational level, we have been able to efficiently respond to the growing need for digital transformation in the financial sector. We have expanded the scope of our capabilities across retail and corporate banking, and across our geographies, especially in Egypt, putting us firmly amongst the leading banks in the region. I am certain that the inherent strengths of ABK combined with our dedication towards enhancing our customers experience will make the Bank even stronger in the years ahead."

In line with its digital transformation journey, a number of digital products were launched during the year, some of which were first to market, such as "Global View" or the possibility to generate decades-old account statements online or through our mobile App. Harnessing the latest digital technology including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, the user-friendly platform helps increase ABK's employee engagement and delivers improved agility to the workforce to achieve organizational goals.

ABK contributed to a number of social causes throughout the year with the main focus aligned to the Bank's CSR strategy of Healthy Living. Speaking about the bank's social responsibility, Accad said: "At ABK, we believe that the best way to support the interests of our stakeholders is by running a strong, profitable and growing business, which creates jobs and actively engages with the community. In our view, that is the basis for being a force for good. We are not only interested in contributing to growth today, but we also want to help individuals, businesses and economies progress in ways that will contribute to sustainable growth tomorrow." ABK received significant global exposure from various industry forums in 2018 and was recognized by Global Finance Magazine as one of the top ten 'Safest Banks' in the region for the second year in a row.