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National Bank of Abu Dhabi Plans Eight Banking Hubs for Growth

National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest bank by assets, plans to set up eight global hubs and build five “international bank franchises” as part of its overseas expansion strategy.

The state-controlled lender will focus on Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Lagos, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Paris and Washington DC to serve clients in five key industries, Chief Executive Officer Alex Thursby said at a news conference in Abu Dhabi today. NBAD plans to tap trade and investment flows across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, said Thursby, who joined in July from Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.

The bank also plans to build “more than a one-branch presence” in five countries which will typically be those with large populations, have fast-growing economies and a rapidly expanding middle class, Thursby said. The lender is seeking to set up between 10 and 20 branches in these countries, with Egypt being the first and Malaysia likely the second, he said.

NBAD reported Oct. 29 an 8 percent drop in third-quarter profit to 1.04 billion dirhams ($282 million), missing analyst estimates, as one-time gains weren’t repeated. The bank’s lending will grow 10 to 15 percent this year and it has a 15 percent medium-term return on equity target, Thursby said.

The lender said yesterday it plans to focus on financial institutions, energy and resources, transport, real estate and family conglomerates as well as trade and retailers, as part of its new expansion strategy. The bank will stop offering trade finance services outside these five, he said.

It will also put on hold an application to open a branch in South Sudan and plans to upgrade its representative office in Lebanon to a branch, Thursby said. It’s in the process of applying for a license in Singapore, he said.

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