Mergers and acquisitions remain an area of interest for BBK as it evaluates prospects for significant progress by the year-end, the bank’s top official has said.

Addressing shareholders during the annual general meeting yesterday, BBK Group chief executive Dr AbdulRahman Saif said the bank is still interested in buying other companies or joining forces with them.

“We’ve been looking at a few options and are hopeful of accomplishing something big in this area by the end of the current strategic cycle (2022-24),” he said in response to a question.

“As we enter the final phase of the cycle, the bank will focus on additional initiatives like micro-financing, fostering a digital culture, and operational excellence. We have robust training and development programmes in place. Our comprehensive KPIs encompass financials, digital transformation, operational excellence, and ESG, and we remain on track to meet our targets by year-end 2024.”

When asked to comment on the potential merger between BBK and NBB, the group’s deputy chairman Khalid Hussain Taqi, who presided over the meeting held at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention and Spa, said he had nothing further to report since both banks officially announced they began initial discussions on the merger in February this year.

In a presentation to shareholders, Dr Saif said the bank sees 2024 interest rate peak with the timing hinging on the labour market and inflation.

Policymakers have flagged measured adjustments based on economic data and the bank is actively managing its liquidity and balance sheet position in response.

The official went on to add that the global growth outlook remains steady in 2024 and early rate hikes could boost prospects.

“Adjustments in commodity prices, coupled with the resolution of regional geopolitical issues, may further contribute to growth. Although signs suggest a decline in inflation, the extent to which central banks in the US and Europe respond will shape monetary policy actions.”

In the bank’s annual report for 2023, chairman Murad Ali Murad has signalled a guarded sense of optimism about the global economy next year.

Growth is expected to pick up steam, even though challenges remain. Countries are working together to heal the economy, and it’s likely to be stronger than 2023. In the GCC region, a comeback is expected, driven by growth outside of oil and smart investments, he said in the board of directors statement included in the report.

The meeting saw the bank’s shareholders approve cash dividends of 30 fils per share (including interim cash dividend of 10 fils per share) and stock dividends of 5pc per share, equivalent to five shares for every 100 shares held for the year 2023.

BBK achieved a net profit of BD74.5 million in 2023, 15.7pc higher than 2022.

The bank credits its success to prior balance sheet optimisation efforts, leading to sustained growth across all operations. In their home market of Bahrain, they actively financed infrastructure projects fostering economic recovery.

A major achievement was securing a $200m deal with Beyon for submarine cable systems.

Beyond telecom, BBK provided strategic credit facilities to key entities like the Electricity and Water Authority and the Tourism Ministry, solidifying its loan portfolio. The bank also achieved a reduction in non-performing loans from 3.4pc to 3pc, demonstrating strong management practices.


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