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Al Rajhi Plans to Boost Lending to Small Business, Mortgages

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Al Rajhi Bank, the largest Saudi Arabian bank by market value, plans to offer more mortgages next year and step up loans to small and medium enterprises and project finance to diversify its portfolio.

The bank is expecting growth in lending next year similar to this year’s, Chief Executive Officer Sulaiman Al Zaben said in an interview in Manama, Bahrain today, without giving details.

“I think consumers are getting too many loans now,” he said. “We will keep lending to consumers but we want to expand with lending in other areas,” he said.

Al Zaben said that he expects to see more mortgage lending next year as Saudi Arabia is developing a new law. Based on that, residential lending may rise to about $32 billion annually, according to estimates by Capitas Group International Ltd., a Saudi company focused on Islamic finance.

Economic growth in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, will slow to 6 percent this year from 7.1 percent last year, according to the World Economic Outlook by the International Monetary Fund.

“Lending to SMEs is definitely an area where we want to grow next year,” Al Zaben said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wael Mahdi in Manama at wmahdi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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