The Kingdom’s banking sector posted solid growth in 2011 and 2012 and is now one of the largest in the GCC, with total assets reaching $439.7bn by the third quarter of 2012. In addition, bank profitability has risen in recent years, reaching $8.23bn at the end of 2011, up from $6.94bn at the end of 2010 and $7.14bn at the end of 2009. The industry’s expansion over the past few years is largely the result of strong fundamentals and proactive government oversight, especially in the wake of the 2008-09 international economic downturn. Since mid-2011, in particular, the banking sector has benefitted from solid non-oil GDP growth and strong spending from both the government and private sector players. Looking ahead, the sector is poised for continued expansion, with high liquidity levels meaning that many banks are preparing to boost lending further.
This chapter includes a dialogue between Patrice Couvegnes, CEO, Banque Saudi Fransi, and Bernd van Linder, Managing Director, Saudi Hollandi Bank.