AGM held with 92.851% attendance and approval of all clauses
KUWAIT: Chairman of Ahli United Bank, Dr Anwar Al-Mudhaf assured that “In 2017, Ahli United Bank has witnessed a 10.4 percent growth in net profits which reached KD 44.5 million (2016: KD 40.3 million) thanks to the strengthening of our core earnings, achieving a net finance income growth of 18 percent during 2017. Ahli United Bank has recorded sound results which have reinforced the Bank’s financial status, strengthen its performance, and maintain its position as a leading Islamic bank, both locally and regionally.
Furthermore, the Bank achieved growth in total operating income of 8.1 percent to reach KD 120.1 million as at the end of 2017 (2016: KD 111.1 million). In parallel, the equity attributable to shareholders has increased by 5.7 percent reaching KD 406.9 million as of 31 December 2017 up from KD 385 million at the end of 2016. Similarly, net operating income increased by 5.8 percent, reaching KD 81.7 million by end of 2017
(2016: KD 77.2 million).
Dr Al-Mudhaf’s speech came during the Bank’s 2017 Annual General Meeting held on 01 April 2018, at the Bank’s Head Office, with percent 92.851 attendance, which approved a cash dividend of 13 percent and bonus shares of 5 percent of issued and paid up capital (13 fils per share and 5 shares per 100 shares, respectively).
Dr Al-Mudhaf explained that “Ahli United Bank maintained a sound capital adequacy ratio of 18 percent on 31 December 2017 (18.2 percent on 31 December 2016), before dividend distributions, a ratio that is comfortably higher than the required regulatory level. This provides room for future expansion in both customers’ credit facilities and the Bank’s core businesses.
Furthermore, the Bank achieved a return on average equity and a return on average assets of 11.4 percent and 1.2 percent respectively as at the end of 2017, being amongst the highest key performance indicators in the local market. This has led earnings per share to increase from 24 fils in 2016 to 24.4 fils per share as at the end of 2017.
“Despite the continued challenging global operating environment, Ahli United Bank continues to pursue its role as a leading financial institution that is striving to play an active role in the economic growth within “Kuwait’s New Vision 2035.” In doing so, the Bank recognizes and benefits from the strengths of Kuwait’s operating environment which include political stability, large sovereign assets, and the greater stability in oil prices. Such positive factors ultimately reinforce the status of Kuwaiti banks in general,” he added.
2017: THE YEAR OF THE AWARDS
Since its establishment in 1942, Ahli United Bank’s development journey has accompanied and reflected the growth that Kuwait has experienced. The progress and development witnessed in the country over many years is reflected in the Bank’s own path and throughout the many changes it has undergone. However, the Bank’s values have remained steadfast and at the core of all that we do.
Ahli United Bank has been recognized and honored by renowned and well-respected entities in the international financial and banking sectors, by receiving many prestigious awards to be added to a long list of accolades earned in the past. Accordingly, the Bank received the “Best Islamic Bank Award” in Kuwait for 2017 from “Islamic Business and Finance” magazine. The Bank also won the “Best Digital Bank of 2017” award in the Middle East (within the corporate banking sector) from “Global Finance” magazine which was proof of Ahli United Bank’s innovative digital capabilities and ability to provide the best banking solutions for its customers. Furthermore, the Bank won the “Sukuk Deal of 2017” award in Kuwait from “International Finance” magazine for its debut issuance of the Additional Tier 1 Capital Sukuk of USD 200 million in 2016, which was oversubscribed by three times as a result of strong demand from investors in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The Bank also received many other awards during the year that further highlighted its quality performance, particularly in Private Banking & Wealth Management and for excellence in Contact Center services.
As a recipient of many prestigious awards earned across different banking disciplines in 2017, we are positive and optimistic about the future, as we move towards further growth and development. Whilst recognizing our strong legacy over the past 76 years, we can look to the future with confidence as we strive to consolidate our reputation and deepen the trust of our customers through continued improved products
STRONG CREDIT RATINGS
Ahli United Bank has continued to receive high credit ratings from major international credit rating agencies. The Bank maintained a credit rating of “A+” and “F1” on the long term and on the short term respectively, with a stable outlook by Fitch Ratings, in addition to receiving an “A2” with a stable outlook on its local currency rating by Moody’s. Capital Intelligence reaffirmed the Bank’s long term credit rating of foreign currency at “A+” and enhanced the short term foreign currency rating to “A2”. These ratings reaffirm the credit standing, capital quality and stability of the Bank.
SOUND AND EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE
In 2017, Ahli United Bank was able to perform based on a sound and effective governance system that applies and commits to the best governance standards which define its operations according to the Islamic Shari’ah. Throughout 2017 the Bank implemented the Central Bank of Kuwait’s revised requirements for Sharia Supervisory Governance in Kuwaiti Islamic Banks to further develop Kuwait’s Islamic Banking sector. The Bank is fully committed to these requirements and will benefit from them as we continue to improve our future performance.
There is no doubt that our human capital counts as one of the Bank’s most valuable assets. Accordingly, we constantly strive to enhance our human resources, invest in upskilling, training, and improving the knowledge of our staff, providing them with a work environment that promotes innovation and provides for their development opportunities.
It should be emphasized that Ahli United Bank is perceived as one of the top employers in Kuwait, offering an attractive and stable work environment for employees. In fact, a number of staff members have been working for the Bank for more than 30 years, many of whom started their careers at the Bank. The Bank is equally committed to the recruitment of promising national talent, and providing and environment of development and learning as they further their careers.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The Bank enjoys a proven record of socially responsible initiatives over many years. In 2017, Ahli United Bank remained committed to its role towards the community by sponsoring many social, educational, humanitarian, charitable, and sporting events. This was in line with the Bank’s corporate social responsibility program that was based mainly on volunteer work encouraging staff to engage in the community. The Bank firmly believes in instilling the spirit of initiative and collaboration between employees and increasing their engagement in support of different social causes.
THANKS & RECOGNITIONS
Finally, and on behalf of all the members of the Board of Directors, the Bank’s Executive Management, all employees of the Bank and myself, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to His Highness the Amir of the State of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (may Allah Almighty keep him safe and sound), to His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and to His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah (may Allah keep them both safe and sound), for their continuous support to Kuwait’s banking sector. I would also like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the Central Bank of Kuwait, headed by the Governor Dr. Mohamad Youssef Al Hashel, as well as the Capital Markets Authority and all other supervisory bodies in Kuwait, for their positive role in supporting Ahli United Bank.
Last but not least, I would like to express my appreciation to the Bank’s Shareholders and valued customers who help us maintain our strong position in this market. Also, I wish to address my sincere thanks to the members of our Sharia Supervisory Board, our Board members, Executive Management, and all our employees for their unwavering commitment and support.
I have faith – Allah willing – that the coming years will bring us more achievements and successes which will further enhance the unique standing of this prestigious banking institution.
Richard W L Groves, the Chief Executive Officer, added: “Throughout 2017, Ahli United Bank carried out its ambitious plans to achieve its vision and maintain its premier positioning as one of the leading Islamic banks in Kuwait, and in the region. Notwithstanding the continued economic challenges and geo-political uncertainties, the Bank continued to make good progress with a strong set of financial results for the year. Ahli United Bank reported a net operating income of KD 81.7 million for 2017, as compared with KD 77.2 million in 2016. The net profit attributable to shareholders was KD 44.5 million as compared with KD 40.3 million in 2016, an increase of 10.4 percent. This increase in net profit underlined the strength of the Bank’s main business divisions of Corporate Banking, Retail Banking, Private Banking & Wealth Management, and Treasury, combined with an effective risk and control framework, as well as a sound cost discipline. The return on average equity (ROAE) of 11.4 percent and return on average assets (ROAA) of 1.2 percent continue to be amongst the best returns of banks in the Kuwaiti market.
Groves added, “The successful implementation of the Bank’s strategic 5-year plan (2015-19) lies at the heart of our business direction bringing innovative Islamic financial solutions to the market in addition to focusing on customer satisfaction by putting our customers first”.
In recognition of this direction, the international credit rating agencies, Fitch, Moody’s and Capital Intelligence, have all continued to favorably report on the Bank’s credit ratings in terms of credit standing, capital quality and stable outlook for growth in the future. The Bank has again maintained a long term A+ rating with a stable outlook from Fitch, an A2 assessment of the local currency rating with a stable outlook from Moody’s, and a long-term deposit rating on foreign currency with an A+ rating, and a short-term foreign currency valuation of A2 by Capital Intelligence, also with a stable outlook.
Groves pointed out that “During the year, Ahli United Bank received many prestigious awards including “Best Islamic Bank in Kuwait – 2017” from the Islamic Business & Finance magazine, and “Best Digital Bank Award 2017” in the Middle East, specifically related to the corporate banking sector, from Global Finance magazine. In addition, our Private Banking & Wealth Management Division and Customer Service Centre also won awards, as did our 2016 debut issuance of an Additional Tier 1 Sukuk, listed on NASDAQ Dubai and the Irish Stock Exchange, which was declared “Sukuk Deal of the Year 2017″ by International Finance magazine”.
Ahli United Bank continued the focus on Retail Banking by optimizing the branch network and providing attractive products for customers supported by a high level of service. With a development of new products and services, coupled with an improved level of communication, Retail Banking evidenced the strategic aim of putting customers first. With an enhancement of the mobile banking application during 2017, customer usage grew by more than 100 percent during the year. This is a precursor to an accelerated development of the Bank’s digital banking footprint in the coming year, coupled with a widespread use of social media platforms which are readily used by customers and followers alike since the official launch in 2017. These platforms provide an additional communication channel with customers and constitute an important step towards building a stronger brand image for Ahli United Bank in the market. He added
Amongst the notable product initiatives during the year, Ahli United Bank launched a new long-term deposit account, Wikalat Al Khair, being one of the best Shari’ah-compliant investment proposals enabling customers to benefit from high and competitive profits amongst other features. The launch was supported by a promotional campaign, “Your Investment in Gold.” The Bank also launched a “Beizat” prepaid credit card in conjunction with Master Card which is proving to be popular with a positive take-up.
Furthermore, an insurance feature was added to a number of Retail Banking products, including free Takaful life insurance and free Takaful insurance against accidents to all customers choosing to directly transfer their salaries to the Islamic Hassad Account. This product enhancement was designed in collaboration with Al Hilal Takaful.
Customer satisfaction remains a top priority for Ahli United Bank. The Service Quality Unit, as part of Customer Complaints and Protection Department, focused on enhancing customers’ service through evaluating performance. This was against the standards and strategic plans adopted to improve the quality of service, increase productivity and enhance overall performance levels. As in the previous two years, the ISO 9001:2008 German Quality Certificate “TUV Nord” was revalidated which confirms the focus on quality banking services.
Corporate Banking continued its active and historic role in the Kuwait market, concluding many new financing solutions for customers, whilst maintaining a high-quality credit portfolio coupled with diversification in the target economic sectors.
The award winning Private Banking & Wealth Management Division, continued to provide excellence in service to customers, coupled with the introduction of a diverse range of investment opportunities both in Kuwait and in international markets. Real estate projects in the United Kingdom continued to attract interest amongst private banking customers, as were the periodic seminars on tax changes, which allowed investors to make informed decisions on their wealth management.
Ahli United Bank is committed to complying with the best governance standards, being essential to all our activities in accordance with Islamic Shari’ah. Throughout 2017, the new Central Bank of Kuwait instructions related to “Sharia Supervisory Governance in Kuwaiti Islamic Banks” were implemented, taking effect on 1 January 2018. These instructions underscore the highest standards of integrity and transparency which we undertake in all our dealings as well as complying with all applicable regulatory standards.
Internally achieving optimal employee satisfaction remained one of Ahli United Bank’s top priorities throughout 2017. This was demonstrated by our commitment to be an employer of choice as we invest in our human capital. As such, the Bank adopted a thorough training program that complied with the latest banking sector requirements and benefited more than 850 members of staff. Undoubtedly, and in line with the Bank’s overall strategy, attracting and retaining Kuwaiti staff, including new graduates, was one of our key objectives during the year, and this will continue in 2018 and beyond.
Building on a fine legacy in Kuwait, Ahli United Bank continued to demonstrate its commitment to society through an active Corporate Social Responsibility program. There has been specific emphasis on youth, the environment, and those who are disadvantaged and in need of our support. We have seen an increased engagement by staff in the Bank’s initiatives and sponsorships of beneficial activities which seek to improve the well-being in society. A separate Corporate Social Responsibility Report for 2017 has been published summarizing the activities throughout the year.
Ahli United Bank is determined to build on the successful achievements realized in 2017 and to continue with a similar path in future to ensure our position as a leading Islamic bank. We have only achieved this position with the trust of our many customers and stakeholders, and the dedication and support of our staff.
I wish to express my gratitude to the Board of Directors for their continued support and valuable guidance throughout the year, and similarly to our Sharia Supervisory Board. I also wish to express appreciation to the Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait and his staff for the highly valued support and guidance provided to the Bank and its management. Appreciation is also extended to the Board of Commissioners of the Capital Markets Authority and staff for their continued support and advice.
Finally, I must offer my deepest thanks and appreciation to our many customers and for the trust they place in us with their continued business, and to all my colleagues in Ahli United Bank whose commitment and hard work have been essential to the Bank in achieving the sound financial results in 2017 and which will continue to be key to our future success.