Ithmaar Bank Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board, Michael P. Lee, said today that, despite the global financial crisis, 2008 had proved a positive year for the Bank, and for its subsidiaries and associates. Lee also announced that, following shareholder approval, one bonus share will be issued for every ten shares held by transferring $54.36 million from the Share Premium to the Capital account.
Speaking following the Ithmaar Bank Annual General Meeting that was held in Bahrain, Lee attributed much of the Bank’s 2008 achievements to the group’s diversity. “Collectively, we have weathered the global 2008 financial storm and concluded the year with a satisfactory performance,” he said.
Ithmaar Bank, a Bahrain-based investment bank with global reach, heads a regional banking and financial services group that comprises more than 20 subsidiaries, associates and joint ventures. Their combined activities, covering investment, private, retail, and commercial banking, private equity, Islamic insurance and assurance, equipment leasing, and real estate development, form a unique 360 degrees value chain that embraces the entire spectrum of banking and financial services.
In February 2009, following a meeting of the Bank’s Board of Directors, Ithmaar reported $85.2 million in consolidated profits for 2008. Of these profits, $22.2 million are attributable to the Bank’s shareholders. Ithmaar also reported significant growth in both its total assets and its funds under management, and said its balance sheet remains strong, with liquid assets at $1.3 billion, representing around 23 percent of its total assets.
“Our overall achievements, made all the more significant by the severity of the 2008 global financial crisis, are a direct consequence of the diversity of the Ithmaar banking group, and a demonstration of the powerful synergies created among its members,” said Lee. “Our group holdings, for example, include both retail and commercial banks that have helped us, collectively, maintain stability even in the most turbulent of times - particularly in terms of business-critical issues such as funding and current income on core activities. The fact that the diversification of our business activities is further bolstered by our geographical spread, with investments in the GCC, Europe, Asia and the Near East, has also contributed to helping us conclude a successful 2008,” he said.
“The areas in which we continued in 2008 to develop our strategic new lines of direct business at Ithmaar Bank, Private Equity, Investment Banking and, to a lesser extent, Capital Market products, are ones that continue to interest regional investors in the GCC and in Asia, where we have a geographical focus upon institutional investors, complementing our local and broader Middle East investment business with high net worth individuals,” said Lee.
“In investment banking, in 2008 we remained focused upon fee-generating businesses and paid particular attention to three major joint ventures that we have created, and are subsequently developing, together with Gulf Finance House (GFH) and Abu Dhabi Investment House (ADIH) as part of our joint strategic initiative called Vision³,” said Ithmaar Bank Co-CEO and Member of the Board, Mohamed Hussain.
“In June 2008, we announced that we had successfully arranged a consortium of regional institutional investors to launch Naseej (under formation), the region’s first fully integrated infrastructure and real estate development company,” said Hussain. “Before the end of the year, the promoter shareholders had signed a formal agreement to create the company with an issued share capital of BD180 million ($477.5 million),” he said.
“During 2008, we also acquired a 25.4 percent stake in BBK, a leading Bahrain-based retail bank which also has overseas operations in Kuwait and India,” said Hussain. “In 2008, our development arm, the Ithmaar Development Company, also announced that its flagship development, Dilmunia, was fast taking shape,” he said.