Saudi British Bank appoints Lubna Olayan as chairwoman for three-year term

Board of directors' head has been in place since the Alawwal Bank merger was completed in June

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia -- July 19, 2009 -- A SABB, Saudi Arabian British Bank branch. Michael Bou-Nacklie for The National
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Saudi British Bank, the kingdom's third-biggest lender by assets, appointed Lubna Suliman Olayan as chairwoman and Hassana Investment Company's Saad Abdul Muhsin Al-Fadhli as its vice-chairman for three-year terms starting from Wednesday.

The appointments were made after receiving a notice of no objection by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, the lender said in a statement on the Tadawul Stock Exchange, where its shares trade.

SABB undertook a $5 billion (Dh18.36bn) merger with competitor Alawwal in June to create a financial entity with more than $73bn in assets.

Ms Olayan was appointed chairwoman of SABB following the merger.

She holds a master's degree in business administration from Indiana University and an honorary doctorate in law from Trinity College, Dublin.

Lubna Olayan. Courtesy Photo

In 2004, she became the first woman to join the board of a publicly listed Saudi company, when she was elected to the board of Alawwal Bank and served as its deputy chairwoman, according to SABB's website.

She also served as the chief executive of Olayan Financing Company for over 35 years, and presently heads its executive committee, in addition to being chairwoman of the board of Olayan Saudi Holding Company.

Mr Al-Fadhli has been a member of SABB's board of directors since 2014 and has more than 15 years of experience in investment banking, risk monitoring and governance, the bank's website said.

SABB reported a flat net profit of 1.06 billion Saudi riyals (Dh1.04bn) during the third quarter as operating expenses and provisions for expected credit losses grew as a result of the Alawwal Bank merger.

This was partially offset by an increase in total operating income, as net special commission income grew 40.9 per cent, it said in November.

According to a report from Moody's Investors Service last month, profitability at Saudi Arabia's big three banks is likely to remain strong despite the recent turn in the interest rate cycle.

The three lenders, National Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi British Bank, which have a combined share of about 47 per cent of the kingdom's banking assets, faced the prospect of lower margins as interests rates reduced, However, the banks are likely to maintain profitability due to their efficient cost structures, the ratings agency said.

"Sound efficiency and strong capital at all three banks will protect their credit profiles," said Ashraf Madani, a vice president and senior analyst at Moody's.