The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) aims to achieve growth rates of between 15% and 20% during the current year, according to Vice Chairperson of the bank, Yehia Aboul Fotouh.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Aboul Fotouh said that these rates may increase or decrease according to the sector, pointing out that the largest growth rates will be in the sector of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as retail, compared to lower growth rates in the financing corporations.
According to Aboul Fotouh, the NBE is seeking to inject more funds into the SME sector. These projects are of great importance to the national economy as a whole, according to Aboul Fotouh, pointing out that the bank aims to increase the portfolio of financing these projects to EGP 100bn by the end of 2020, up from the current EGP 58bn.
As for the most important economic sectors that the NBE focuses on, Aboul Fotouh said that the industry prioritises financing corporations because of their important role in increasing production, thus augmenting exports and reducing imports, which in turn reflects on escalating the state’s foreign exchange resources on the one hand and providing foreign exchange on the other hand.
He stressed that the NBE will also continue to support major national projects, with creditworthiness and economic feasibility on the country’s economy in all sectors, as a strategic partner in financing these projects.
Furthermore, he added that the bank pays great attention to the syndicated loans deals as part of its keenness to fulfil its role as the largest bank operating in the Egyptian market. He also stressed the bank’s interest in megaprojects related to the vital sectors in the fields of industry, petroleum, electricity, transportation and construction, as well as contracting, food, real estate development, and those which create value-added services to the Egyptian national economy, provide a great range of jobs, and advance development.
According to Aboul Fotouh, the volume of the loan portfolio at the bank by the end of December 2018 reached about EGP 500bn, while the size of the deposit portfolio amounted to about EGP 1.9tn.
He remarked that the NBE—being the largest public and private bank operating in Egypt—is keen to play its developmental role rather than simply a profit-making institution.
Moreover, he explained that the bank bears the burden of paying 20% interest on the savings certificates put forward, in conjunction with the decision to liberalise the exchange rate, which amounted to 24%, while the return it was getting for the employment of these certificates was far from the cost.
The NBE is studying the launch of a microfinance company, as well as its investment in Al Ghurair Sugar Company, through Al Ahli Capital, the investment arm of the bank, as part of its efforts to boost domestic production and attract foreign direct investment.
Aboul Fotouh also pointed out that the bank aims to exit from 15 companies during the current year, pointing out that NBE is expected to achieve capital gains from these companies worth EGP 1bn.
According to Aboul Fotouh, in 2018 the bank sold its shares in 15 companies worth EGP 1bn.
He added that the bank aims to sell the land it owns worth EGP 8bn, aside from EGP 14bn of lands jointly owned with Banque Misr.
In the same context, Aboul Fotouh confirmed that the NBE is seeking to strengthen its contributions to financial companies by increasing the capital of Al Ahli Leasing Company and its Ahli Mortgage Finance Company in order to support the volume of their work during the coming period. The NBE intends to increase the capital of Al Ahly Exchange Company to EGP 125m up from the current EGP 50m.
Furthermore, Aboul Fotouh expects a profit of EGP 13bn during the fiscal year 2018/19, compared to EGP 10bn in preliminary profits under audit during the fiscal year 2017/18.
In a related context, he affirmed that the NBE supports the state’s plan for financial inclusion by attracting the university youth and implementing the mechanisation of wages for the public and private sectors.
Moreover, the NBE launched its first phase of electronic services branch last week through which the bank seeks to provide a new and distinct experience in providing banking services to its customers.
Aboul Fotouh said that the first phase of the project includes several banking services, such as the e-form, which enables clients to submit applications for banking services, in addition to providing services for non-clients of the banks, such as prepaid cards and phone cash.
He added that the first phase also includes Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs), which is a new element to be officially launched for the first time through these branches, where the customer can withdraw and deposit cash more than the daily limits allowed through the ATMs, in addition to filing cheques drawn on the NBE.
In addition, he elaborated that the first phase also includes the Video Call service which enables clients to reach a customer service representative by voice and video, to help them get the required banking services quickly and easily, and to provide information that customers may need, thereby increase their banking awareness, as well as opening all types of accounts for new customers.
He added that the bank also launched the second phase of the internet banking Al Ahly Net.
This aims to activate the decisions and objectives of the National Council for electronic payments and support the concept of financial inclusion, as one of the main pillars toward achieving economic development, financial and social stability.