Muscat-listed Sohar International Bank applies to set up branch in Saudi Arabia

Potential arrival of Sohar International Bank on Saudi banking scene comes as sector reports bumper earnings

Saudi traders monitor stock information at the Saudi stock market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia August 25, 2020.

Saudi traders monitor stock information at the Saudi stock market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia August 25, 2020.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

RIYADH: Sohar International Bank, which is listed on Oman’s Muscat Stock Exchange, is applying to the Saudi Central Bank to open a branch in the Kingdom, it said in a bourse announcement.

“Sohar International is very well positioned to make this endeavor a success,” the statement said.

The announcement on Sunday came as Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq and King Salman held talks in NEOM during the Omani leader’s official visit to Saudi Arabia.

There are currently 16 foreign banks with operations in Saudi Arabia, according to Argaam, the financial information website. These include Emirates NBD (six branches), Gulf International Bank (three branches), National Bank of Kuwait (three branches) and First Abu Dhabi Bank (three branches).

BNP Paribas of France, Deutsche Bank of Germany, Bank Muscat, National Bank of Bahrain (NBB), and JPMorgan Chase & Co. of the United States, Pakistan National Bank, Ziraat Bank of Turkey, Qatar National Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered all have one branch each.

The potential addition to the Kingdom’s banking scene comes as it was reported last month that the accumulated income of the top 10 banks in Saudi Arabia increased by 34.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the previous quarter.

The A&M’s Banking Pulse for Saudi Arabia said lenders in the Kingdom “have rebounded to deliver blockbuster first-quarter profit,” mainly due to improving macroeconomic conditions, the country’s buoyant capital market, and a significant decrease in impairments.

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