Abdulaziz Al Ghurair becomes Mashreq chairman as founder bows out

The Dubai lender has named Ahmed Abdelaal as the new chief executive of the bank

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 13, 2017:    Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chief executive officer of Mashreq Bank at his office in the Mashreq Bank headquarters, in the Diera area of Dubai September 13, 2017. Christopher Pike / The National

Reporter: Mahmoud Kassem
Section: Business
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Dubai’s Mashreq Bank has announced a changing of the guard at the Al Ghurair family-controlled lender, as its founder and chairman Abdullah Ahmed Al Ghurair bows out.

Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, the chief executive of one of the oldest lenders in the emirates, also relinquished his position after almost three decades in the role. He will take over the reins as the new chairman of the bank, according to a Mashreq statement. Ahmed Abdelaal has replaced Abdulaziz Al Ghurair as the new chief executive, it added.

“We had planned this transition some time ago and Ahmed [Abdelaal] was brought on to the leadership team two years ago with that in mind,” the new chairman of the bank said, adding that he will continue to support and guide the leadership team in the bank.

“The board [of directors] has full confidence in Ahmed’s abilities to deliver on the bank’s strategy and to continue to innovate in the wake of a fast changing landscape,” he added.

Mashreq, with Mr Al Ghurair at the helm, has grown from a small, local bank to one of the fastest growing lenders in the region. The bank in recent years has shifted focus on to digitisation and plans to close half of its brick-and-mortar branches in the UAE, converting the majority to digital branches as its expands its online portfolio of products and services.

Mashreq is spending at least Dh500 million over the next five years on its digitisation drive, Mr Al Ghurair told The National in March this year. The lender intends to lead its regional peers in digitisation in a bid to cut costs and improve efficiencies. Mashreq has already established its digital bank Neo, to compete with the likes of Emirates NBD's digital bank Liv. in the UAE. The success of Neo encouraged Mashreq to shut down half its branch network but the shift in strategy will not result in massive layoffs, Mr Al Ghurair said at the time.

On Monday the lender also said its third quarter net income slipped 8.7 per cent year-on-year as operating expenses climbed.

Net income for the three months ending September 30 rose to Dh535.8 million, the lender said in a separate statement. Operating expenses for the period jumped to Dh677.4m for the reporting period, from Dh637.3m a year earlier.

Impairment charges at the end of September however fell to Dh223m. from Dh248.6m a year earlier. The third-quarter fee from commissions also climbed slightly to Dh328.1m, the lender said.

Mashreq’s net profit for the nine-month period remained flat at Dh1.76 billion, supported by a rise in net investment income, which climbed to Dh111m at the end of September from Dh25m from the same period in 2018. Impairment allowance also dropped by 15.9 per cent year-on-year during the nine-month period, Mashreq added.

The bank’s total assets grew by 5 per cent in the year to date to Dh146.9bn, while its loans and advances increased by 4.2 per cent to reach Dh72.2bn.

Customer Deposits grew by 1.1 during the nine-month period to reach Dh84.1bn and its loan-to-deposit ratio remained at 85.8 per cent at the end of the reporting period.

The bank’s financial performance is driven by the core businesses and it continues to maintain a “healthy balance sheet as well as strong liquidity”, Mr Al Ghurair said. “As we continue to implement our digital transformation strategy, we remain focused on improving the banking experience  …. through ongoing investments in digitisation and technology.”