Gulf Bank 2013 results reflect progress [Kuwait Times]
(Kuwait Times Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Omar Kutayba Alghanim To our valued shareholders, It is a great pleasure to report on your Bank's financial performance and the progress made during 2013. This is first time I have the privilege of addressing you as Chairman and, in doing so, I am very pleased to advise you that in 2013 we have both continued to financially strengthen the Bank, and deliver on our promise to provide customers with the best and fastest banking services in Kuwait. The Bank is now strongly positioned for growth. During the past year, we introduced new strategic directions that will develop and broaden our offering and build on the solid foundations we have created in previous years. The focus is strongly on the needs of our customers, investments in our staff, and the development of our customer base. At the same time, we have started to develop exciting new opportunities which will allow us to further grow in corporate and consumer banking services. Of course, all of these initiatives are placed against the requirements of enhancing the Bank's reserves and financial capacity. Gulf Bank's results in 2013 reflected its steady progress and normalized operating profits grew to KD 99.6 million (excluding KD 9.8 million of non-recurring income) from KD 96.1 million (excluding KD 25.3 million on non-recurring income) in the prior year. Continuing our strategy to build a fortress balance sheet, the Bank increased its precautionary general provisions to KD 158 million. The net profit at KD 32.2 million in 2013 was up 4.1 percent against KD 30.9 million in 2012. As of 31 December 2013, the Bank's total assets were KD 5,064.8 million, deposits stood at KD 4,086.1 million and total shareholders' equity was KD 483.1 million. The Board of Directors are pleased to recommend distribution of bonus shares of 5 percent on outstanding issued share capital as at 31 December 2013, which is subject to approval of shareholders at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). During the year, we witnessed a significant 38 percent reduction in non-performing loans (ie, NPL) and a continued increase in the general precautionary reserves. The Bank has maintained its aggressive efforts to reduce the NPL ratio, driving it from 10.9 percent in 2012 to 6.5 percent by December 2013 – a 40 percent reduction. Decreasing the NPL ratio is a strategic objective and of the highest priority for management. Further improving our credit strength, the Bank has increased the total coverage ratio of non-performing loans to over 185 percent. As we move into 2014, we are committed to successfully executing our growth strategy, and providing both corporate and retail customers with an exciting alternative in the Kuwait market. The Bank has continued to invest in its infrastructure to ensure it has both the robust internal controls and the ability to deliver the quality of services that our customers and regulators demand and deserve. It is particularly pleasing to note that earlier in 2013, Gulf Bank successfully completed the implementation of its Corporate Governance mandate as required by the Central Bank of Kuwait, which will ensure accountability, fairness, and transparency in our relationships with all our stakeholders. I am proud to add that we have increased our branch network to 57 branches across Kuwait. In doing so, we will be closer to our customers, and better able to ensure that they receive the best possible banking services and that these are delivered both swiftly and efficiently. We will also continue to support our community through our Corporate Social Responsibility programs, concentrating on the development of our youth and supporting entrepreneurship.During 2013 we sponsored a number of activities in this area, including the INJAZ regional competition which was held in Kuwait for the first time with over 7,000 students from high schools and universities participating, representing 14 countries, the Global Management Challenge, NUKS, as well as job shadowing programs. Over the year, Gulf Bank had over 135 staff volunteers working together with our youth on various development programs in this area. Gulf Bank received numerous awards in various disciplines across the Bank including: ' Best Bank in Kuwait' by The Banker , a leading Financial Times owned publication, 'Bank of the Year' from Arabian Business Magazine, 'Best Retail Bank' by Asian Banker, and 'Best Domestic Bank' by Banker Middle East. I hope that I have been able to effectively communicate the significant accomplishments of this past year toward the recovery of the Bank, as well as the excitement and importance of this coming year. We have shifted our focus for 2014 towards growth – through a relentless focus on the needs of our customers, investments in our staff, and a competitive drive in the marketplace. In parallel, we hope to finish the job of financial recovery, making sure stakeholders' interests are well protected. In closing, I would like to thank our staff, customers, shareholders & our Board of Directors for their continued support and loyalty as we continue our development. On behalf of Gulf Bank's Board of Directors, I also want to express my sincere gratitude to His Highness, the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al- Sabah, for their benevolent leadership and guidance. A special thanks to the Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait Dr Mohammad Al-Hashel and his team for their support throughout the year. Omar Kutayba Alghanim (Chairman)
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