QATAR - Finance
Hassan Ahmad AlEfrangi was appointed CEO of Ahli Bank Q.P.S.C. (Ahlibank) by the board of directors in 2020. He started his career with Ahlibank and worked in various departments where he played a prominent role in the growth of the bank. AlEfrangi is an expert in business development, with extensive experience in retail banking and risk management. He has held many senior positions during his years at the bank, the last being Deputy CEO – Retail and Private Banking. Prior to joining Ahlibank, AlEfrangi was the Group CEO of Qatar General Insurance Co. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and banking and has more than 20 years of experience in the banking field.
Ahlibank’s net profit was QAR713 million for the year ending 2021. What strategies lie behind the bank’s consistent profit growth?
Ahlibank delivered consistent profit growth driven by operating income results in 2021 in a challenging environment. Ahlibank is focused on customer service and business development to provide our customers with digital and easy to use solutions while improving the customer experience and serving them more efficiently. Ahlibank is spearheading its digital transformation by making major investments in technology infrastructure with tech-driven solutions built to enhance the value proposition of our offerings for our customers. At the same time engagement with customers and giving them personal service and attention has been our key differentiator.
A large part of your success has been due to bond issuance in foreign markets. How would you define the bank’s international landscape?
Two strategic initiatives during the current year were significant milestones in the history of the bank. First was the inaugural issuance of USD300 million Additional Tier 1 Capital in the international markets at a highly competitive 4% coupon rate. At the time of issuance in February 2021, this was the lowest-ever rate for a conventional bank in the Central, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMA) region, with 86% of investors coming from outside the MENA region. Second was the successful completion of the fifth five-year bond issuance for USD500 million under Ahlibank’s USD2-billion EMTN Program in the international debt capital markets in June 2021, which achieved a highly competitive coupon rate of 2%. This was supplemented by a healthy geographical split of international investors, with over 71% beyond the MENA region. These issuances bring investments into Qatar, as well as representing a vote of confidence from international investors not only for Ahlibank, but for Qatar itself. These two transactions also underpinned Ahlibank’s fortress balance sheet strategy in terms of capital and stable funding, which ensures ABQ maintains a strong financial position to overcome any obstacles that we may face from time to time.
In 2021, Ahlibank officially launched the new Ahlipay Digital Wallet to the Qatari market. How has this app developed financial and e-payment services for all individuals and businesses?
Ahlipay Digital Wallet works in line with Ahlibank’s strategy of providing financial and e-payment services to all individuals and businesses. With its numerous privileges, Ahlipay gives users an advanced, secure, faster, and smarter payment experience. Ahlipay is based on Qatar Central Bank’s initiative of Qatar mobile payments. The Ahlipay Digital Wallet is available to everyone. With seamless online enrollment, all residents of Qatar (Ahlibank and non-Ahlibank customers) and visitors can download the app, register, and start using it immediately, hassle-free, without the need to visit a branch. The Ahlipay merchant app is also a new and convenient way for merchants to handle their business transactions at zero set-up cost and rental fee-free for the first year. Ahlipay Merchant QR code payments provide a brand-new way for businesses to sell products more conveniently, have instant access to their funds, and monitor their transaction history with peace of mind.
The Ahlibank Kawader program aims to recruit, develop, and build in-depth expertise in banking and finance among Qatari nationals. Can you elaborate more on it?
The focus on Qatarization and the supporting of local talent development is integral to Ahlibank and will continue in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. The Ahlibank Kawader program aims to attract, recruit, develop, and build in-depth expertise in banking and finance amongst Qatari nationals. We are committed to developing and qualifying Qataris to become successful in the banking and finance industry and for them to assume leadership positions in the bank of tomorrow. Our HR strategy is always pivoted around the development and grooming of national talent, and to date over 10 Qataris have successfully completed our Ahlibank Kawader program and joined the bank in various business areas within the bank.
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