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Trade Bank of Iraq Expands into GCC, China to Lift Revenues

Trade Bank of Iraq Expands into GCC, China to Lift Revenues

Monday, 8 July, 2019 - 12:00
Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq Faisal al-Haimus. (TBI)
Abu Dhabi - Asharq Al-Awsat
State-owned Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) is expanding into China and the Gulf, seeking to lift its revenues from retail banking and international operations to 30 percent by 2022 from 25 percent now, its chairman said on Sunday.

The bank plans to open a representative office in China in 2020 and is upgrading its license in Abu Dhabi to an asset management company from a representative office, explained Faisal al-Haimus.

TBI’s revenues totaled $550 million in 2018 with trade finance contributing the lion’s share. Its retail and international operations business accounts for 25 percent of its revenues.

The bank, owned by the Iraqi government and with assets of around $30 billion, helps fund about 80 percent of the trade finance business in Iraq.

“With our expansion in China, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, retail and international business will contribute to 30 percent of our total revenues by end of next three years,” Reuters quoted Haimus as saying.

Trade between Iraq and China is significant in both the public and private sector with Chinese oil companies active in Iraq and the private sector importing a lot from China, he said.

TBI entered Saudi Arabia this year, opening its first branch in Riyadh. The branch, which will become fully operational in September, will focus on trade finance, he added.

TBI has abandoned acquisition talks with a Gulf bank as the latter decided it doesn’t want to sell, Haimus noted.

TBI was in talks to buy a Gulf bank with branches in the UAE and Qatar as part of a strategy to boost revenues outside its home market, he told Reuters in October.

The Iraqi bank had also, earlier, put on hold plans to buy a commercial bank in Turkey because of the plunge in the Turkish lira. However, it is still interested in acquiring a bank in Turkey, Iraq’s biggest trade partner.

“There are a couple of banks we are still looking at, it is very early stages,” he said, declining to name them.

Haimus pointed out that TBI plays a big role in the rebuilding of Iraq and infrastructure development, explaining that this will help bolster its balance sheet that has grown to $30 billion in size.

The lender is also planning to launch a fund in the fourth quarter of 2019, focusing on lending to Iraqi banks for international trade as approvals are expected by October.

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