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Middle East's Best Bank Awards

Bahrain: Best Domestic Bank 2020

National Bank of Bahrain

National Bank of Bahrain is a bank on the rise. Under chief executive Jean-Christophe Durand, it has been transformed from a safe, middle-of-the-road lender into a digital leader. Technological change and innovation is now at the heart of everything National Bank of Bahrain does.

At the top level, the numbers are impressive. Profits rose 6% year on year in 2019, to BD74.2 million ($197 million), with total operating income coming in at BD125.8 million. Profits have risen at a compound annual rate since 2016, a sure sign that whatever NBB is doing, it is working.

Its financial stability and liquidity – NBB’s return on equity of 14.7% in 2019 is all but unchanged over the last five years – and its low cost-to-income ratio of 35.9%, have enabled it to invest, not only in improving its internal operations and services, but in bolting on assets as and when they are available.

In January 2020, it raised its stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank to 78.8%, having earlier bought 29.06% of the Manama-based lender. NBB’s aim will be to broaden and deepen is presence in Islamic banking and finance.

It will continue to expand its presence across the region. National Bank of Bahrain plans to further its reach in the key markets of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and to continue to invest in its investment banking franchise.

Last year, it was the first Bahrain-based lender to unveil an open banking platform. It also signed up to Swift, with the aim of processing international payments quicker and more cost-efficiently. Its investment in digital helped it to react faster than its domestic peers to the pandemic, launching a mobile medical insurance application, and delivering critical medication and medical help to employees, including those working from home.

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