By John Lee.
The National Bank of Iraq plans to open five more branches in Iraq by the end of this year, in what Reuters described as a sign that there is still money to be made in much of the country despite civil war and low oil prices.
Vice-chairman Ayman Abu-Dhaim told the news agency that two of the branches will be in Baghdad, and one near the Rumaila oilfield, adding:
“Iraq is a strategic investment for us…If one can achieve this in the current conditions, imagine what one could do when the problems are solved.”
He estimated that business in the Iraqi banking sector has fallen 20 percent because of the conflict and the fall in oil prices since last June.
Reuters reports that the banks’s net income before tax in the first quarter of this year jumped 51 percent year-on-year to 2.94 billion Iraqi dinars ($2.5 million), while operating income rose 9 percent. Total assets increased 26 percent to 646.71 billion Iraqi dinars.
The bank is 62-percent owned by Jordan’s Capital Bank, and currently has nine branches in Iraq, including two in the Kurdistan region.