NBK gets approval to operate in KSA, UAE next on agenda

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the largest financial institution in Kuwait, has been granted approval by the Saudi Cabinet to open a branch in Saudi Arabia.

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By  Massoud Derhally Published  September 25, 2002

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the largest financial institution in Kuwait, has been granted approval by the Saudi Cabinet to open a branch in Saudi Arabia.

NBK chairman, Mohamed Abdel Rahman Al-Bahar, said the approval reflected the strong historical connections between Kuwait and KSA and conformed with NBK’s firm regional expansion strategy.

“Given that other Gulf banks cannot operate in Kuwait and there is a reciprocity issue regarding Kuwaiti banks operating in other GCC markets, we consider this a rare achievement,” said an NBK official.

NBK had initially applied for licenses to operate in both Jeddah and Riyadh, but so far has only received approval from the cabinet for Jeddah alone, according to the NBK official. “There are still procedures being ironed out between Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) and the Central Bank of Kuwait. We will start with plain vanilla banking products; consumer and corporate banking; areas that NBK has wide experience in,” said the official.

According to the official, NBK has already submitted a similar request to the UAE Central Bank authorities. Egypt, which has long been rumoured to be a market the Kuwaiti bank was eyeing, is no longer on the agenda.

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