Saudi retailer BinDawood to boost e-commerce through potential acquisition

Saudi retailer BinDawood to boost e-commerce through potential acquisition
Saudi retailer BinDawood to boost e-commerce through potential acquisition

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - As SNB celebrates fastest and biggest merger, some clients struggled to find their way

JEDDAH, DUBAI: It took only 15 months for National Commercial Bank and Samba Financial Group to complete the fastest and largest merger in the Middle East’s banking history.

The new entity, Saudi National Bank, also known as SNB, is the largest financial institution in Saudi Arabia today, bringing at the same time many benefits to shareholders.

This can be found in the 10.7 percent rise in SNB profit for 2021, as the lender reported SR12.7 billion ($3.4 billion) in profit due “to the improved performance to a series of effects that followed the merger,” according to a bourse filing.

However, such a merger has left few old retail clients struggling to find their way in the new system, Arab New has learned.

The bank has transferred more than 1.4 million accounts of individual customers in less than six months.

“Needless to say that the process was not easy, and we faced many challenges, especially as we are talking about the merger of two giant banking entities,” SNB told Arab News.

Integrating the two banks was the “most difficult phase” of the merger, it added, “due to the technical financial, administrative, as well as the indicative procedures required.”

Saudi students such as Basel Al-Ameel could not access their student accounts where the government deposits each month an allowance to support them in finishing their studies.

“On December 28, I tried to withdraw the allowance from an ATM, and it failed. On the same day, 2 of my friends at the university tried and it failed,” he told Arab News.

“One of them went to about three ATMs to try to withdraw. The day after, my second friend was able to withdraw, but I was still not able. I went on for three days to different types of ATMs. In the end, I had to speak to the bank at the university in order to solve the problem,” he added.

Al-Ameel faced another problem where his card was suddenly rejected.

“My SNB card was suddenly rejected, and it contained money, and the problem occurred to a number of people whom I know personally,” he said.

The bank responded right away to solve the issue.

“When I called the bank, they said that the issue will be resolved the very next day and it was,” he said.

There were other complaints Arab News learned from customers, including the significant time it takes for them to get cards by mail or the difficulty of getting them if the client is abroad.

These issues were expected, especially in a merger of such magnitude.

The SNB merger started on Oct. 11, 2020 with the signing of a binding framework agreement between the two banks. It was until Dec. 31, 2021 that the transfer of customer accounts had been completed.

The merger included five areas with retail, corporate, treasury at the core.

It also included the merger of NCB Capital and Samba Capital, as well as other administrative sectors and branches such as human resources, procurement and finance management systems. Branches from both banks were also merged to provide integrated services to customers.

The corporate sector now has more than 11,000 clients with many small and medium business customers. SNB also completed opening and activating accounts for 100 percent of customers in the corporate category.

Chairman of SNB, Ammar Al-Khudairy said the Bank has completed all phases of the merger roadmap, resulting in the creation of Kingdom’s largest banking entity, with assets exceeding SR900 billion.

“Reaching the finish line of the merger agenda paves the way for a new stage of work and a promising future for the Saudi banking industry,” he said.

As of January this year, the bank has a market share of 31 percent of the total assets of the Saudi banking sector; a market share of up to 28 percent in individual financing and 24 percent of corporate financing.

“We have today more than 500 branches, more than 4,100 ATMs across the Kingdom, 950 cash deposit devices, and about 127,000 point-of-sale devices,” Al-Khudairy said.

A Saudi woman who preferred to only share her initials, A.S., was unable to use her credit card while traveling to Spain on the 31st of December.

“My card was declined as I was booking a hotel room. There is money in my account, I just could not access it,” she told Arab News.

She highlighted that the bank responded very well to her issue and acted immediately.

“I called them that day and told them that my credit card is not working and I am outside the Kingdom. They were very responsive and helpful and I was able to use my card later on for my trip,” she added.

The bank said there is “a large team in the front rows and back rows” who worked intensively on the merger, which it described as a turning point for the Saudi banking history.

Al-Khudairy said the bank has entered a new phase that is focused on pursuing new strategic aspirations.

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