The Best Emerging Market Banks 2005
Platt, Gordon, Neville, Laurence, Green, Paula L., Fittipaldi, Santiago, Global Finance
BEST EMERGING MARKET BANKS
In the 12th annual Global Finance survey of the world's best emerging market banks, we honor those banks that consistently provide excellent service and security in often-tumultuous markets.
In the dynamic world of emerging market banking, the past year has been an exciting one. Change is taking place at unprecedented speed, with established regional titans tightening their grip on their chosen markets and many smaller banks, with canny use of new technology or through audacious dealmaking, carving out ever-growing regional niches.
Many formerly local banks are reaching across borders with acquisitions and alliances that are transforming them rapidly into regional powerhouses. Almost across the board, revenues are up and profits are up. The banks that really shine in this year's survey are adopting new? technology, leapfrogging their competitors and providing their customers with state-of-the-art facilities and services. Increasingly, corporations and consumers in emerging markets around the world are able easily to access the same levels of service that were only recently reserved for bank clients in developed markets.
As always, the winners of this year's emerging market banks awards are not necessarily the biggest or the most visible, but they are those that can best help their clients make the most of the vast opportunities available in the world's diverse-and sometimes confusing-emerging markets.
With input from industry analysts, corporate executives and banking consultants, Global Finance identified the banks that adhere to high standards of corporate governance and possess the imagination to succeed in a challenging environment.
Our criteria included growth in assets, profitability, strategic relationships, customer service, competitive pricing and innovative products.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
Best Bank in Region: National Bank of Kuwait
National Bank of Kuwait is one of the largest and most profitable banks in the Middle East and is continuing to expand throughout the region and beyond. The bank is taking full advantage of the improved economic environment in the Gulf area as the result of high oil prices. It also is diversifying its revenue sources and continually upgrading its complete range of products in response to the needs of its customers. The largest bank in Kuwait and the highest-rated Arab bank, NBK is a leading provider of investment banking and trade finance services in the Middle East.
NBK enlarged its regional network last year with the opening of a branch in Amman, Jordan, and a 10th branch in Lebanon. It also acquired a share in International Bank of Qatar, formerly Grindlays Qatar Bank, and will manage the bank under contract. NBK opened a branch in Bahrain in 2003, upgrading its offshore unit. Globally, it has branches or subsidiaries in New York, London, Paris, Geneva and Singapore, as well as representative offices in Thailand and Vietnam. It is planning to expand into Saudi Arabia, Iraq and China.
NBK posted record profits in 2004, up 24% from a year earlier, giving it a return on equity of 29.9%.
* Ibrahim Dabdoub, CEO
Gulf International Bank
Gulf International Bank, a leading investment bank in the Middle East, has expanded into such areas as shipping finance, secondary market asset trading and Islamic finance. GIB is the leading project finance bank in the region and was a lead arranger of the $9.3 billion facility for the Qatargas II liquefied natural gas project, the largest energy project financing deal worldwide in 2004. The bank is owned by the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. JPMorgan Overseas Capital holds a minority interest. GIB's earnings rose 42% in 2004, to a record $150 million. In addition to a subsidiary in London, GIB has branches in New York, Riyadh and Jeddah. It has representative offices in Beirut and Abu Dhabi. …