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Moving forward. Bank Muscat strategies in sync with economic trends

•        Developing the finest Omani talents

•        Key support for the development of SMEs

•        Committed to home for every family

•        New branches boost corporate banking

•        Social responsibility gains momentum

MUSCAT, 24 June 2014 – Reflecting the readiness to face future challenges and conveying the strong message of moving forward, Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, pursues a strategy to align objectives in light of the current economic trends that are consequential to its business. Built on the solid foundation of its talented people, Bank Muscat has achieved steady and significant growth in various disciplines to emerge as the leading financial institution in Oman.

Bank Muscat is reckoned a true partner of the development in Oman. The bank's 'Let's Do More'  vision reiterates a leadership which continuously challenges everything, from listening to improving and looking for positive change as the bank believes that only through questioning convention can it truly deliver sustainable value.

Bank Muscat enjoys the legacy of moulding the finest Omani talents. The bank has adopted innovative strategies to equip Omani staff to take up leadership positions in tandem with future challenges. The multi-skill development programmes pursued by the bank have benefited a large number of employees.

The bank has a high level of commitment towards its people, encouraging them to take ownership and responsibility and contribute to the growth of the organisation. The bank continuously invests to build human capacity and create career opportunities for talented staff. The bank has been able to derive maximum mileage in this regard as most of its middle and senior management cadres are drawn from within the bank.

Bank Muscat has the distinction of outstanding leadership at all levels and attracts the best cadres for employment. Bank Muscat has exceeded 93 per cent Omanisation, giving priority for Omanis to occupy important positions. The bank's women empowerment strategy is also notable as 42 per cent of staff comprise women holding various positions, including senior management positions. Bank Muscat remains committed to developing its leadership pool from among talented young Omanis and thereby contribute to Oman's future.

AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive, said: “Ranked among the top 500 banks worldwide, Bank Muscat enjoys an unrivalled position in Oman as well as the region, a clear recognition focusing on the global best practices pursued by the bank.The bank's biggest footprint and presence across the Sultanate and world class products and services are helping to make the vital differentiation. As the flagship bank in Oman, Bank Muscat is well positioned to leverage on the large network of branches and other delivery channels to target the growth potential. As the country's economy continues its growth momentum, the bank is optimistic of new business opportunities."

Bank Muscat recorded encouraging results during the first quarter of 2014. The key business lines sustained performance momentum during the challenging 3-month period as the bank posted a net profit of RO 39.76 million for the period compared to RO 24.99 million reported during the same period in 2013.

The strategic initiatives by the bank during the first half of 2014 include increasing the amount of the Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN) programme, as approved at the EGM in 2011, from $800 million to $2 billion. The bank also obtained shareholder approval for the setting up of RO 500 million Meethaq Sukuk Programme and SAR 1 billion Sukuk programme by the bank's branch in Saudi Arabia.

Bank Muscat offers the complete range of retail banking products and services. Setting new benchmarks, the sophisticated banking experience stems from the right mix of traditional and electronic channels. The bank's commitment to inculcate a healthy savings habit among the public was well received as the reach and appeal of al Mazyona savings scheme was widened, taking the total prize money to over RO 8 million compared to RO 7 million in 2013. As on date, the scheme offering 'more for everyone to share' is the biggest savings scheme prize money in Oman and the region.

As part of its commitment to extending all possible support to achieve the objective of a 'home for every family', especially youth, the bank, in association with leading property developers, facilitated attractive opportunities for prospective home buyers in Oman. baituna home finance is aimed at offering citizens and residents easy access to mortgage finance, thereby contributing to the revitalisation of the real estate sector and enhancing its role in the national economy.

The bank, in association with Visa, was granted an exclusive positioning among 20 global banks chosen as official Retail Bank of 2014 FIFA World Cup™. Bank Muscat was the only financial institution in Oman to receive this unique privilege as 66 all-expenses-paid packages were offered to football enthusiasts to witness the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ matches, including the finals, live in Brazil.

The Corporate Banking group built around strong partnerships with almost all the leading corporate houses, provided comprehensive and customised financial solutions. In Project & Structured Finance, the bank maintained its leadership position by playing an integral part in several large-scale and key infrastructure projects.

The bank launched unique initiatives to strengthen the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in Oman. As part of efforts aimed at complementing the government efforts in strengthening the SME sector, the bank launched a high profile advisory forum for women entrepreneurs in Oman. The forum comprises a panel of distinguished advisors who are available to provide guidance and help for women entrepreneurs to develop the requisite attitude, skills and abilities for leadership in SME business.

The bank also launched a unique SME financing programme to help entrepreneurs overcome challenges arising from the requirement of collateral guarantee for SME finance. al Wathbah SME Non-Collateral Programme not requiring collateral guarantee is a bold step affirming the bank's commitment to encouraging an entrepreneurial culture in Oman.

As part of efforts to further enhance convenience and add value to services offered to corporate and government customers, the bank opened three more exclusive corporate banking branches across the Sultanate. The new corporate branches are Al Nahda Towers branch in Ghala, Al Tareef branch in Sohar and New Salalah branch. The bank also has an exclusive corporate branch in CBD area.

Bank Muscat GCC Property Income Fund, a fund managed by the Asset Management division of Bank Muscat was launched to harness opportunities in the property market. The fund's first transaction was the acquisition of Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, a five-star hotel located in the prestigious beachfront area of Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.

The bank's subsidiary in Bahrain, BMI Bank, concluded its merger with Al Salam Bank, an Islamic bank based in Bahrain. The merged Islamic institution is the fourth largest bank in Bahrain by assets.

The bank's social responsibility initiatives gained momentum during the year. The Green Sports initiative launched by the bank in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports Affairs to promote Oman as a sporting nation made steady progress across the Sultanate. As part of the programme, 20 sports clubs have already been given support to green their playing fields. Significantly enhancing support to the greening initiative, the bank decided to support 15 sports clubs / teams across Oman to green their playgrounds this year. To achieve the goals of the initiative, the bank will continue to support all deserving clubs across the Sultanate to green their playing fields.

The bank also presented 'Jesr al Mustaqbal' (Bridge to Future) higher education scholarships to a new batch of Omani youth. 'Jesr al Mustaqbal' scholarships are aimed at helping Omani youth from low-income segments to pursue higher education and vocational training and thereby attain employable skills.