RIYADH - The chair of Saudi National Bank (SNB), the kingdom's biggest lender, which last year acquired a stake of almost 10% in Credit Suisse, said on Wednesday the bank was not considering any specific international opportunities.

SNB Chair Ammar Al Khudairy said the bank is instead focused on growing its business in Saudi Arabia.

"As of today we are not looking at specific opportunities," Al Khudairy told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Financial Sector Conference in the Saudi capital.

"If anything, in the last 12 months, the Saudi market is one of the most exciting markets. There's a lot to do here for us to extract maximum value out of the tailwind economy that we have," he said.

The bank reported a near 47% increase in net profit in 2022 boosted by higher operating income and lower impairments, as the Saudi economy rebounded post COVID-19 to record GDP growth of 8.7% last year.

Al Khudairy said the bank wants to increase its retail coverage in Saudi Arabia and deploy capital across the country in both the private sector and the government-led gigaprojects underway.

While last year was a bright spot for initial public offerings from the Gulf region, Al Khudairy said market volatility could slow momentum in 2023, although the pipeline for Saudi IPOs remained healthy.

"There has been a slowdown in the last two months because some issuers are hesitating about valuations and want to wait to see if markets will adjust," he said.

"What I can say is the queue is very robust and with market conditions being reasonably favourable, Saudi will be one of the top two, three markets in the world when it comes to IPOs, I have no doubt."

(Reporting by Rachna Uppal; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)