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NBB eyes SME loan growth

Gulf-based National Bank of Bahrain BSC aims to increase increase lending to small and medium-sized enterprises in addition to lending to major companies in 2019, Reuters reported Feb. 26, citing CEO Jean Durand.

The bank posted an 8.7% year-over-year increase in its loans and advances issued in 2018 compared to 2017, with the commercial sector and structured finance identified as the main factors for growth in loan assets.

Durand also alluded to the possibility of NBB's future involvement in Gulf-based bank mergers, Bloomberg News reported. "For the time being, there are no specific ones. Are we open? Yes, we are open to new ideas," he said.

NBB cast aside plans to increase its stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank BSC, Bloomberg said, but the plan is not completely abandoned, with Durand saying that "the timing was not right" for the acquisition.