Qatar Islamic Bank, the country’s biggest Shariah-compliant lender, plans to increase its workforce by as much as 7 percent this year, Acting Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Meshari said today.
The lender, which has about 750 employees, recently hired more than 50 people, having made a somewhat lesser number redundant, to bring in “new blood,” Meshari said in a telephone interview in Doha. There will be no more layoffs and further hiring is planned, he said.
“To maintain this position of being a market leader, you need to have the right talent on board,” Meshari said. “Some people within the organization were not up to what we were aiming for.”
The bank, which posted the smallest increase in first-quarter net income among Qatar’s eight publicly listed lenders, has faced sharper competition in recent years, with the establishment of Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and the opening of Islamic units by conventional banks.
Qatar Islamic recently hired Booze & Co. as a strategic adviser. That helped to identify “certain gaps in the bank that need more focus and attention,” Meshari said.
The bank wants to increase its 10 percent market share in Qatar, where it plans to add four branches this year, he said. It owns stakes in U.K., Malaysian and Lebanese lenders and may enter the Indonesian and Turkish markets, he said.
Qatar Islamic may seek to buy the Shariah-compliant units of conventional lenders, Meshari said in February, after the country’s central bank issued a rule requiring conventional lenders to stop taking Islamic deposits and eventually to close their Shariah divisions.
A separate decision by the central bank last month limited the size and maturity of personal loans issued by banks, as well as the interest that may be charged. That could slow growth and profit at banks such as Commercial Bank of Qatar and Doha Bank QSC, Credit Suisse Group AG said on April 14.
“All banks will be affected, not only us,” Meshari said. “There are other ways to make up the difference. There are certain niche markets that need to be looked at.”
The bank, the second-best performing Islamic lender behind Masraf on the Qatar Index of leading companies this year, fell 1.3 percent to 81.2 riyals at 12:03 p.m. on the Doha bourse today. The stock has risen 0.9 percent this year.
Meshari took over as acting chief executive officer after Salah Al Jaida, the former CEO, stepped down last year.