FGB, formerly First Gulf Bank, one of the leading banks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), registered significant growth in 2015 by achieving a record net profit of $1.64 billion.
The bank found its total income increase by 6 percent in the year, signifying its 16th successive year of profitability, while earnings per share rose to $0.36 during the period, an 8 percent increase from 2014.
"2015 was a strong year for FGB as we continued to fulfill our promise to 'Be First' for our customers," FGB CEO Andre Sayegh told Gulf News Journal. "This is our 16th consecutive year of growth in net profits, which is a remarkable achievement for FGB. We delivered a strong set of results and proved our resilience by delivering consistent and stable growth, and navigating successfully through a changing environment."
Last year, FGB continued to strengthen its products and services offerings to meet the evolving needs of customers, delivering a new co-branded credit card with du, the fastest growing mobile communications and technology provider in the UAE, that offers everything from telecom deals to lifestyle benefits. The bank also introduced the FGB LIC International credit card, which provides customers with complimentary LIC International life insurance coverage, interest-free payment plans, reward points and a range of privileges.
"We've also recently launched our new ‘Accelerator' proposition, which is built around our customer's everyday choices and preferences for using banking products, enabling them to maximize the benefits of banking with us," Sayegh said. "It allows customers to choose from three tiers of benefits for the bank's full product range of personal and mortgage loans, savings and investments, or insurance products."
During 2015, the bank enhanced its digital security systems and revamped its online and mobile banking platforms, introducing a number of new features. FGB branches were also upgraded with new digital capabilities, including the Dubai Mall branch, which became its first digitally enhanced branch last year.
"We also continued to work on our SME offerings in 2015, which represents the largest business platform in the economy," Sayegh said. "Last year we became the first bank in the country to offer a financing package for new UAE businesses."
The package offers a number of financial solutions, including start-up loans, business operating accounts, credit cards, overdrafts and trade/working capital facilities to businesses in the early stages of development.
"Our ‘Startup Proposition' was recognized during the 2015 Arabian Business Startup Awards, where FGB was named ‘SME Bank of the Year,'" Sayegh said. "On the wholesale side, we sought to further enhance our customer value proposition with the establishment of our Corporate Finance division."
FGB's achievements were recognized by a range of industry magazines and peers throughout 2015. The bank received seven Banker Middle East UAE Product Awards, along with two Banker Middle East Industry Awards, which include "Best Bank in the UAE" and "Best Bank in the Middle East." FGB was named "Bank of the Year" at the 2015 Arabian Business Achievement Awards, and FGB's Siraj was also named ‘Islamic Bank of the Year - Shariah Compliant Window' for 2015.
Additionally, FGB won three accolades at the 2015 Bonds, Loans & Sukuk Middle East Awards, including "Project Finance Deal of the Year," "Structured Finance Deal of the Year" and "Syndicated Loan Deal of the Year"; and received the "Most Impressive Middle East Borrower Award" at the 2015 Global Capital Bond Market Awards.
"We're always focused on turning challenges into opportunities, which I believe is the key factor in our ongoing achievements," Sayegh said. "FGB has consistently adapted to market trends, positioning the bank for long-term, sustainable growth as we execute our strategy. Another key factor behind FGB's consistent growth in profitability is our diligent approach to risk through all the different economic cycles enabling us to maintain a strong balance sheet, healthy asset quality and balanced ratios."
Sayegh said despite global headwinds faced last year and volatile operating conditions continuing into 2016, the fundamentals of the UAE financial and banking sector remains strong due to robust capital positions and solid balance sheets.
"In this macroeconomic environment, our conservative risk management approach and strategic focus on revenue diversification and cross-business synergies ensure we are well placed for long-term growth," Sayegh said. "With a positive year behind us, FGB will continue to focus on efficiency, which will enable us to continue delivering innovative products and services across all business groups, both domestically and abroad. We have a dynamic and diversified business model, along with strong fundamentals, allowing us to continue turning challenges into opportunities in the year ahead."