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Middle East's Best Bank Awards

Abu Dhabi: Best Domestic Bank 2020

First Abu Dhabi Bank

The Middle East has a lot of very well-run banks these days. Mergers have made the big ones bigger, but a desire to invest in digital for consumers and corporates, and to roll out high-end wealth management services, has made them better too.

Few lenders can go toe-to-toe with First Abu Dhabi Bank when it comes to prizes for the best regional bank. But none can compete with FAB in its home market of Abu Dhabi, where it is a leader in scale and innovation, and unmatched in terms of its reach, with 75 domestic branches and offices.

It is a leader in its home market and beyond, having signed up to the London-based CDB (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), and to the UN’s Global Compact’s 10 principles.

The bank continues to invest in its digital platform. In April 2020, it said it would partner with Etisalat Digital to launch a digital invoicing service designed to cater to local and regional SMEs.

It is a leader in investment banking too. First Abu Dhabi Bank was the number one bookrunner of Middle East and North Africa loans in the year to the end of March 2020, arranging 160 transactions including $5 billion of syndicated loans.

It topped the loan bookrunning tables in the GCC over that period too, according to Dealogic, and for MENA-region corporate loans.

Its investment banking team had a banner year. On the domestic front, it helped the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to complete a triple-tranche deal in April 2020, raising $7 billion in a 144A/RegS deal that drew $45 billion worth of orders. Two months before that, FAB raised A$350 million ($255 million) when it issued its first post-merger Kangaroo bond, making it the first Middle East bank to tap the market for two years.

In total, the bank completed 37 debt capital markets transactions in the Middle East last year, up 85% year on year. Over that period, it raised $7 billion for international issuers, an annualized increase of 56%. Standout deals include a $1.3 billion loan for Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical, and a $428 million term loan for Telecom Egypt.

FAB also has a burgeoning presence in India: it is a key financial partner for companies based in India and, on the wealth management side, for non-resident Indians who are either based in the Middle East, or who put some or all of their personal wealth to work in the region.

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