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IIF's 9th Annual Middle Eastern and North African Bank Chief Executives Meetings Concludes
Regional Boom Presents Opportunities and Risks for Financial Institutions
Muscat, Oman, February 26, 2006 — The BankMuscat hosted Institute of International Finance's (IIF's) 9th annual Middle Eastern and North African Bank Chief Executives Meetings concluded here today. Eighty two (82) members of this global association of financial institutions, that has more than 340 members from across 60 countries, were here to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by the financial community across the MENA economies, in the light of current and emerging regional and global economic trends.
AbdulRazak Ali Issa, chief executive of BankMuscat, the host bank of the conference, stated at the conclusion of the meeting that he was proud and delighted to host such an important event here at the Sultanate. He said, "We have had outstanding sessions during the past two days. The conference has given financial leaders from across the MENA region and beyond, a unique opportunity to reflect in-depth on global and regional economic issues and on a range of other matters that are of central importance to our business interests and aspirations. I believe that our deliberations here and our sharing of experiences will contribute to continued progress and stability in the financial systems of the MENA region."
AbdulRazak Ali Issa noted that, "Banks today are no longer seen as institutions that are responsible for safeguarding public money alone, but as growth engines both in the economies in which they operate and as part of the larger regional and global economy. This is where global bodies like the IIF play a significant role in helping us better appreciate the risks and the challenges that lie ahead and assistance in bringing the global financial community closer together. We thank you for your continued support, guidance."
Charles Dallara the IIF Managing Director speaking at the press conference said that global economy presented financial institutions with as unusual combination of challenges and risks. He said, "While growth has been holding up relatively well, particularly in emerging market economies, there are considerable risks beneath the surface."
Mr. Dallara underlined the continued tightness of energy markets, concerns about a turnaround in the US housing market (which had been critical in supporting activity in the US economy up to now), and the risks stemming from the pronounced global current account imbalances. "Those imbalances, reflected in part in the rising US deficit as well as the massive surplus in China's current account, pose a threat to international trading relationships upon which much of the recent global prosperity has been built," he said.
The risks of a deterioration in the global economy were heightened by the continued surge in private capital flows to emerging markets and the compression of interest spreads. Mr. Dallara said the conference had facilitated a rich and stimulating exchange on a range of issues of crucial interest to regional banks.
Howard Handy IIF Counsellor and Director, spoke of the vibrancy of the economies of the Middle East region centering on the major oil producers. He pointed out that, "The GCC is experiencing an unprecedented boom in growth and activity which is accompanied by a surge in project spending focusing on infrastructure and the further development of energy sectors. Many other countries in the region are also benefiting from high energy prices and from increased linkages through buoyant capital flows, remittance, and tourism. The boom in asset prices which has propelled the market cap of the GCC stock markets above $1 trillion poses a special challenge for regulators and the monetary authorities."
HE Hamoud Sangour Al Zadjali, Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman and leaders of the banking industry in Oman were also present at the two-day meeting.
The IIF's 10th Annual Meetings of Middle Eastern and North African Bank Chief Executives will held in Doha in February 2007, and will be hosted by Qatar National Bank.
About the Institute of International Finance (IIF)
Head quartered in Washington DC, USA the Institute of International Finance is the global association of financial institutions with over 340 members headquartered in more than 60 countries operating across the world.
The IIF's Board of Directors includes leaders from financial services firms from across the world. Key members include: Chairman, Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank AG; First Vice Chairman, William R. Rhodes, Senior Vice Chairman, Citigroup Inc. and Chairman, Citibank, NA; Vice Chairman and Treasurer, Cees Maas, Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer, ING Group, N.V. and Vice Chairman Roberto E. Setúbal, President, Banco Itaú S.A.
The IIF's main activities are to:
- Provide high-quality, timely, and impartial analysis and research to our members on emerging markets and other central issues in global finance.
- Systematically identify, analyze, and shape regulatory, financial, and economic policy issues of relevance to our members globally or regionally.
- Develop and advance representative views and constructive proposals that influence the public debate on particular policy proposals, including those of multilateral agencies, and broad themes of common interest to participants in global financial markets.
- Work with policymakers, regulators, and multilateral organizations to strengthen the efficiency, transparency, stability and competitiveness of the global financial system, with an emphasis on voluntary market-based approaches to crisis prevention and management.
- Promote the development of sound financial systems, with an emphasis on emerging markets.
- Provide a network for members to exchange views and offer opportunities for effective dialogue among policymakers, regulators, and private sector financial institutions.
- Define, articulate, and disseminate best practices and industry standards in such areas as risk management and analysis, disclosure, corporate governance and regulatory compliance.
- Support education and training efforts of our members in priority areas.
About BankMuscat (SAOG):
BankMuscat (SAOG) is the largest banking entity in Oman with assets worth over US$5.2 billion and a strong presence in Corporate Banking, Retail Banking, Investment Banking, Treasury, Private Banking and Asset Management. The Bank has a network of 90 branches in Oman and a representative office in Dubai (UAE). BankMuscat also has a strategic stake in Centurion Bank of Punjab, a private sector bank in India and has recently set up BankMuscat International (BMI) an independent banking entity that is focused on becoming a truly GCC regional bank.