Dubai: Noor Islamic Bank, which is in its fourth year of operation, is poised to break even this year, CEO Hussain Al Qemzi told Gulf News in an interview Wednesday.
"Going by our performance during the first four months of this year we are confident that we will have a positive net income to report during the current year," Al Qemzi said.
The Noor Islamic chief executive said yesterday that the bank, year to date, has posted a net profit of Dh58 million as its operating income grew Dh113 million. Its capital adequacy ratio was 18 per cent year to date.
"After the launch of the bank in 2008, later that year the financial crisis hit the markets. As a result we decided to be cautious as the changes were rapid and so uncertain that we decided to refocus our efforts. Our efforts and patience are helping us now in the recovery process. Today the bank is in much better shape," Al Qemzi said.
This year the bank expects more than 25 per cent balance sheet growth, largely driven by corporate finance, structured deals, syndications and mortgages.
In the context of improving liquidity in the market Al Qemzi expects the bank's financing activity to improve this year.
"We are primarily a corporate bank and expect most of our growth to come from financing activities linked to corporate business," he said.
Building a strong retail franchise is part of Noor's long-term strategy. However the bank will continue to leverage its strength in corporate business to expand its retail banking and investment banking reach.
The bank is back in the mortgage market and expects healthy growth in that segment of business.
"We see a revival in the mortgage business and will continue to be an active player, but we will be very selective in expanding our mortgage book," he said.
Noor has no immediate plan for physical expansion outside the UAE. Its international business will continue to focus on investment banking such as arranging sukuk issuance, syndicated financing and Islamic financial advisory services. The bank has been active in Turkey. From this year it will explore business potential in some of the Far Eastern markets.
Al Qemzi expects Noor Takaful to emerge a strong player in the UAE. "We continue to consolidate our network here. Even in the middle of the crisis we launched a Takaful [Islamic insurance] company to complement the services we already offer. The business is doing well and we continue our efforts to guide the company towards breakeven," he said.
Commenting on the recent Central Bank regulations on retail financing, Al Qemzi said it will not have any big impact on Noor Islamic Bank as its retail business is small.
"Although the new regulations are going to have some impact on profits of some banks in the short-term I believe some of the provisions in the new regulations will help reduce the high level of indebtedness among UAE residents," he said.
Reacting to the rumours that Noor Islamic Bank could be merged with Dubai Bank, Al Qemzi said there have been no discussions.
"We are a privately owned Islamic financial services group. We are adequately capitalised and are sufficiently liquid. I don's see any scope for merger or acquisition at this point," Al Qemzi said.