Abu Dhabi-based Finance House, which provides financing products and services to personal, corporate and government clients, is holding talks with local and foreign banks to raise Dh500 million in credit facility, which will help the company to leverage the incremental opportunity in the UAE market for funding its financing activities in the retail and small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, a senior company official said yesterday.
The company last year raised Dh292m in an agreement with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank to provide lending to the SMEs.
Mohammed Alqubaisi, Chairman, Finance House, said the company is expected to grow 20-25 per cent across the board, including profits, lending and deposit-taking this year.
He said the profits for the fourth quarter of 2009 was in line with the first three quarters of last year, if not better, projecting an increase of 20 per cent for 2010.
Finance House has announced a net profit of Dh86.8m for the first nine months of 2009 compared to Dh381.9m for the same period in the previous year.
When asked if the company will be offering dividend at the end of the year, he said hopefully investors will hear some good news without elaborating further.
The company's loan portfolio grew to Dh1.2 billion at the end of 2009 and projected to grow further 20 per cent this year.
The Abu Dhabi stock exchange-listed company said that non-performing loans totaled one per cent of the whole loan book in 2009, he said, adding that all were provided for in 2009.
The company's loan and investment portfolios saw a marginal reduction in the loan book of three per cent from the previous year-end level to Dh1.11bn in third quarter of 2009.
"Though 2009 was a difficult year for the whole economy, and Finance House was no exception. All the concerns expressed about Finance House were exaggeration. It has solid financial foundations and weathered the global financial storm well," Alqubaisi added.
"We're in a recovery mode but it will take time. We're giving priority to grow loan portfolio with quality assets," he said.
Commenting on interest rates, he said the Emirates Interbank Offer Rate (Eibor) will slightly edge up this year.
He said the company did not lay off staff during the crisis; instead it will hire 15 per cent more staff this year.
Speaking after inaugurating the company's first branch in Sharjah, Alqubaisi said the company would open one branch each year across the country.
"Selective expansion of the branch network is part of our core strategy to raise Finance House's profile and reach across the UAE over the next few years. We already are a highly active and visible financial services brand in Abu Dhabi and Dubai," said Alqubaisi.
"Under the current market scenario, SMEs are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain and grow their businesses in the absence of financial institutions that are focused on servicing their unique needs," he said.
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