The expansion of Bank Audi to the huge and lucrative Turkish market is paying off as plans are afoot to increase the number of branches and staff in the coming few years, a senior bank executive said.
“Our subsidiary in Turkey in terms of assets and earnings should rank second to Lebanon. It is a very ambitious target and we are committed to support this business plan at all levels to make it happen,” Freddie Baz, chief economist and adviser to the chairman of Bank Audi , told The Daily Star.
In October 2011, Bank Audi sal- Audi Saradar Group announced that it has been granted permission to establish a deposit bank in Turkey with a starting share capital equivalent to $300 million. The permission was granted by the Board of the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency of Turkey on Oct. 27, 2011.
Bank Audi , the largest bank in Lebanon in terms of profits and customer deposits, has seven branches in Turkey but intends to raise this figure to 25 at the end of 2013 and to 100 in the next five years.
“We have always said when we launched our operations abroad in 2005 that our aim from this expansion is to achieve a balance breakdown of assets and earnings between Lebanon and abroad. We have been in the right track in the first two years as we have witnessed a reversal trend,” Baz said.
He added that between 2007 and 2010 domestic deposits of all banks in Lebanon grew by 65 percent, attracting close to $60 billion in deposits over this period.
“This allowed loans to grow by a minimum of 45 percent and Audi had the lion’s share of this growth. But the Arab Spring affected the contributions from the region. Now the share of our operations abroad is 30 percent of the total earnings. This could have reached 50 percent if the global turmoil and the events in the Arab world did not take place,” Baz stressed.
Bank Audi pins high hopes on the promising Turkish market despite the strong presence of Turkish banks in the country.
Baz insisted that Audi is not trying to compete with the powerful Turkish banks but is merely seeking to capitalize on the volume of trade between Turkey and the Arab world.
The Daily Star