Saudi Hollandi Bank (AAAL), which is about 40 percent owned by ABN Amro Holding NV, said it expects to boost hiring in Saudi Arabia as it opens more branches.
“Over the last year and a half we were able to open eight branches around the kingdom,” Bernd van Linder, managing director, said in an interview in Riyadh. “We hope to be able to open five to six branches before the end of the year.”
The country’s eighth-biggest bank by assets is working to grow revenue more than costs this year and focused on boosting the trade, treasury and investment banking businesses, he said. It’s also mandated on at least two initial public offerings.
“We are very active in the IPO market,” van Linder said. “We hope to be able to announce something before the start of Ramadan and we should be able to announce more before the end of the year.”
Saudi Arabia’s strong economy, the professionalism of family businesses in the kingdom as well as the support of the market regulator is a combination that will ensure success of those companies going public, said van Linder.
“Family business IPOs in the Saudi market are extremely active now and I see this continuing well into 2015,” he said.
Earlier this year, Saudi Binladin’s construction products unit said it plans to go public, followed by Saudi Co. for Tools and Hardware, a family-held business known as SACO. Last month, similarly owned Abdul Mohsen Al-Hokair Group and Al Hammadi Co. For Development & Investment got approval to go public as well.
Saudi Arabia’s economy, the largest in the Arab world, is forecast to grow 4.2 percent this year, compared with 3.8 percent in 2013, the second fastest pace in the Gulf region after Qatar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The benchmark Tadawul All Share Index, which is more than three times the size of the United Arab Emirates’ gauges combined, has gained 15 percent this year.
“It’s a very attractive economy, which results in a very attractive banking sector as well,” said van Linder. “We want to make sure that we don’t lose any opportunities,” he said.
Last month, the chief executive officer of Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange Adel Al Ghamdi said there are 35 family businesses in the oil-rich kingdom currently working with financial advisers for their companies to go public on Tadawul, as the index is known.