Emirates NBD signs preliminary agreements with Israel's biggest lenders

The memorandums of understanding were agreed in the wake of the UAE and Israel normalising relations with the signing of the Abraham Accord

FILE PHOTO: A man rides a bicycle past Emirates NBD head office in Dubai, UAE January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Satish Kumar - RC1F060F2B60/File Photo
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Dubai’s Emirates NBD signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel’s two largest lenders as the UAE and Israel agreed to normalise relations.

Dubai's biggest bank by assets on Wednesday said it concluded a preliminary agreement with Bank Hapoalim, in a short statement to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares trade. In a separate statement, the lender also announced an agreement with the country's second-biggest lender, Bank Leumi, which has a 30 per cent market share.

"Our agreement demonstrates a further strengthening of our relationship with Israel’s banking industry, which will benefit our brand, our clients and the UAE economy, through new business and trade opportunities,” Emirates NBD's vice chairman and managing director Hesham Al Qassim said in the statement.

The announcements come after the UAE and Israel on Tuesday signed the Abraham Accord at the White House to normalise relations. The deal with Israel allows for bilateral investments and the growth of the tourism, aviation, security, telecoms, technology, financial services, energy and healthcare sectors in both countries.

First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE’s biggest bank by assets, is also in discussions with Israeli lenders. These talks are intended to establish relationships that focus on correspondent banking, bilateral trade, technology and innovation, according to FAB.

"Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the UAE Central Bank and the Israeli Prime Minister's office, First Abu Dhabi Bank will open discussions with leading financial institutions in Israel, namely Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi," it said in a September 1 tweet.

Establishing financial ties between the two countries underpins bilateral trade and investment relations, the prospects of which are “exciting” for both states, UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq said earlier this week.

The UAE is looking at eight trade and economic agreements, including double taxation and a free-trade agreement, with Israel at a later stage. Firms from both countries are signing deals together and a host of joint venture agreements are expected in almost all sectors, the minister said.