Noor Bank was established in the throes of the global financial crisis of 2007-08. Being a young bank, however, had its advantages. The crisis led Noor Bank to adopt ‘smart’ ways to establish itself as one of the fastest growing Islamic banks by offering progressive and forward thinking financial services. Noor Bank seized the opportunity to look at what it could do to deliver financial solutions that would enable customers to make the most of their financial assets.
Noor Bank serves as a different type of financial services provider for a new generation of customers who want to bank when, where and how they wish to. The bank’s growth strategy is based on a clear understanding of its customers. Noor Bank is a values-driven and principles-based financial institution with Shari’a compliance at the heart of its business decisions.
The rate of growth in retail business, in terms of volume, customer stickiness and cross sell ratios, has been impressive. In the first half of 2015 in particular, the consumer finance portfolio has grown by 18%, outdoing the industry’s growth rate.
Noor Bank’s consumer finance business has followed a comprehensive development strategy that has consistently kept the customer at the core. Accordingly, Noor Bank has developed a series of intuitive products to offer a bouquet of customisable financial solutions that meet varying customer needs, and have resulted in being acknowledged globally as winners. Some of these include:
Noor Bank’s ‘Best Rate Credit Card’, winner of the Most Innovative Islamic Credit Card (Best Rate Card) UAE 2015, offering customers one of the lowest profit rate of only 1.66% per month. Individuals can opt to transfer outstanding balances from credit cards with higher profit rates issued by other banks in the UAE.
Awarded the Best Islamic Bank for Personal Financing UAE 2015, helps customers to invest in their children’s education, start a business, buy a dream home, a holiday and much more.
Also the Best Islamic Bank for Auto Financing UAE 2015, promises to meet varied customer requirements and puts them in driver’s seat in no time at all. This product is based on Shari’a compliant Murabaha structure.
The philosophy of Noor Bank is summed up in its business purpose – “Noor Gets It Done”, behind which are five key strategic purposes:
- Make the customer experience a priority
- Understand customer behaviour
- Provide an integrated online experience
- Go mobile, where the customers are
- Personalise, Personalise, Personalise
An early adopter of mobile and online banking services, Noor Bank provides secure mobile banking solutions that address consumers’ wide-ranging needs and preferences through multiple modes (including text and browser as well as downloaded applications). Applying that deep insight to deliver online financial services that anticipate and satisfy customers’ personalised needs is critical to Noor Bank’s retail business strategy and future growth. Noor Bank appreciates it’s essential to aggressively move into the mobile channel where the next generation of users will be, as today’s wireless devices evolve into tomorrow’s wireless wallets. Among Islamic banks, Noor Bank stands out in this regard.
Consistently rethinking its relationships with its customers has allowed Noor Bank to build deep, loyal and sustainable customer relationships, which in turn has provided reliable and consistent earnings.
Sharing his thoughts on the bank’s progress, Hussain Al Qemzi, chief executive of Noor Bank, said: “Noor Bank’s remarkable journey in a short span of seven years stands out in the banking landscape of the UAE. As a Shari’a compliant institution, the bank fulfills the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the global capital of Islamic economy. Customer centricity and the ease of doing business with the bank through multiple channels have led to our rapid growth and success.”
In mid-2012, Noor Bank launched an innovative capital-protected investment product linked to gold, which delivered a profit rate of 16.5%, equivalent to an annual return of more than 11%. The note allowed customers to hedge against a drop in the gold price while protecting their capital. The capital-protected investment linked to gold is part of Noor Bank’s wide-ranging Islamic structured products platform that offers capital guarantee and higher returns than the normal deposit. With maturities from six months to three years, the treasury products can be customized to deliver upon a definite set of investment objectives.
In February 2014, Noor Bank rolled out commodity Murabaha service for all its Corporate and SME borrowing relationships. This service augments Noor Bank’s interbank online commodity Murabaha settlement capability developed on the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) platform earlier to support treasury transactions.
Islamic Factoring is another new product developed and managed by the Global Transaction Services (GTS) Division within the Corporate Banking Group of Noor Bank. The underlying strategic business objectives of the product are:
- To establish Noor Bank as a visible and professional Factoring Services provider.
- To use Factoring services as entry strategy for acquisition and expansion of MNC, large corporate and local business relationships.
- To position Noor Bank as a key player facilitating trade flows routed through UAE.
- Offer value added supply chain finance solutions
In addition, in 2013, Noor Bank launched its trade and SME brand, Noor Trade, and is on track to provide AED 1 billion in financing to SMEs by 2016 and is in fact the fastest growing segment of Noor Bank.
The Shari’a compliant Home Finance solution for off-plan properties aimed at non-UAE residents of GCC, and most G20, countries, which makes Noor Bank the only bank in the UAE to offer financing options on off-plan projects to non-residents.
Over the past seven years, by adapting and responding to changing customer needs, Noor Bank has been able to robustly grow its profitability as well as asset and customer bases across corporate and retail segments. Today, Noor Bank is rated A- by Fitch and has been the winner of various prestigious industry awards, locally and globally.
A major milestone in Noor Bank’s short journey so far was the issuance of its debut five-year US$500 million sukuk issuance in April 2015. It received an overwhelming investor interest from various geographies including the Middle East (54%), Europe (29%) and Asia (17%) wherein more than 45% of the issuance was allocated to European and Asian investors. With the final pricing of 2.788%, it became one of the lowest ever pricing by any Sukuk issuer in the UAE.
With the successful Sukuk issuance, Noor Bank joined the exclusive club of a select number of UAE banks who have tapped the global capital markets to fund their growth and it will continue to do repeat issuances in future. This issue will enable Noor Bank to diversify its funding profile as part of its ongoing financial strategy and will help to a sustainable funding and capital structure which will further support the growth of the Bank.
UK delays review of business rates tax until autumn
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance ministry said it would delay publication of its review of business rates – a tax paid by companies based on the value of the property they occupy – until the autumn when the economic outlook should be clearer.
Many companies are demanding reductions in their business rates to help them compete with online retailers.
“Due to the ongoing and wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic and economic uncertainty, the government said the review’s final report would be released later in the year when there is more clarity on the long-term state of the economy and the public finances,” the ministry said.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak has granted a temporary business rates exemption to companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, costing over 10 billion pounds ($14 billion). Sunak is due to announce his next round of support measures for the economy on March 3.
($1 = 0.7152 pounds)
(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)
Discounter Pepco has all of Europe in its sights
By James Davey
LONDON (Reuters) – Pepco Group, which owns British discount retailer Poundland, has targeted 400 store openings across Europe in its 2020-21 financial year as it expands its PEPCO brand beyond central and eastern Europe, its boss said on Friday.
The group opened a net 327 new stores in its 2019-20 year, taking the total to 3,021 in 15 countries. The PEPCO brand entered western Europe for the first time with openings in Italy and it plans its first foray into Spain in April or May.
Chief Executive Andy Bond said its five stores in Italy have traded “super well” so far.
“That’s given us a lot of confidence that we can now start building PEPCO into western Europe and that expands our market opportunity from roughly 100 million people (in central and eastern Europe) to roughly 500 million people,” he told Reuters.
To further illustrate the brand’s potential he noted that the group has more than 1,000 PEPCO shops in Poland, which has a significantly smaller population and gross domestic product than Italy or Spain.
The company, which also owns the Dealz brand in Europe but does not trade online, has already opened more than 100 of the targeted 400 new stores this financial year.
Pepco Group is part of South African conglomerate Steinhoff, which is still battling the fallout of a 2017 accounting scandal.
Since 2019 Steinhoff and its creditors have been evaluating a range of strategic options for Pepco Group, including a potential public listing, private equity sale or trade sale.
That process was delayed by the pandemic, but Steinhoff said last month that it had resumed.
“The business will be up for sale at the right time. It’s a case of when, rather than if,” said Bond, a former boss of British supermarket chain Asda.
Pepco Group on Friday reported a 31% drop in full-year core earnings, citing temporary coronavirus-related store closures.
Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 229 million euros ($277 million) for the year to Sept. 30, against 331 million euros the previous year.
Sales rose 3% to 3.5 billion euros, reflecting new store openings.
($1 = 0.8279 euros)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by David Goodman)
Fashion-focused livery launch reveals new colours for Gasly, Tsunoda in 2021
Scuderia AlphaTauri debuted their colours for the 2021 Formula 1 season as drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda unveiled the team’s new look with the livery for their AT02 racecars. The setting was a fashion-forward launch in the all-new showroom of AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s premium fashion brand.
Salzburg (AUSTRIA) – Formula 1 team Scuderia AlphaTauri served up a stylish preview of the new F1 season with a presentation of its 2021 livery alongside key looks from the upcoming Autumn/Winter 2021 collection of Red Bull’s premium fashion brand, AlphaTauri. The launch – held at AlphaTauri’s new showroom in Salzburg, Austria and presented digitally – marked the first time that drivers Pierre Gasly of France and Yuki Tsunoda of Japan have appeared together as teammates.
After a successful first season racing in AlphaTauri colours, the Italian outfit is looking to challenge the top of the ultra-competitive midfield in 2021, and the two young drivers have been assigned clear-cut roles. Gasly is Team Leader. The 25-year-old, who made his Formula One debut with the team in 2017 under its former name, Scuderia Toro Rosso, has earned two F1 podiums. During the 2020 campaign, Gasly’s maiden win at Monza was a defining moment for him and the team under its new name.
Tsunoda, 20, is the first Japanese driver to race in F1 since 2014, his promotion coming off the back of a fast, four-season trajectory from winning the 2018 F4 Japanese Championship and finishing third in the 2020 FIA F2 Championship to entering the top-level ranks this year. Expectations are high for his rapid style of learning to complement the experience of Gasly.
“The decision to go for Pierre and Yuki in 2021 was taken because Scuderia AlphaTauri’s philosophy is still to give talented young drivers from the Red Bull Junior Program the opportunity to step up to F1 and to educate them – this is why Yuki now gets his chance,” explained Team Principal Franz Tost. “With Pierre on Yuki’s side we have an experienced driver, who can help our Japanese rookie to develop faster, but at the same time we can aim for good results. I think this pair is the best possible scenario to achieve both our targets, and I’m also confident this will be a successful one.”
In 2020, Scuderia AlphaTauri won best livery by a landslide, and the team’s all-new, matte blue and white racecar livery took center stage with the drivers at the fashion event, anticipating the 2021 model that will debut at pre-season testing in Bahrain on 12 March. The test is the precursor to an unprecedented 23-race schedule, and in preparation for the demanding calendar both drivers have spent time at Red Bull’s Athlete Performance Center for intense fitness testing.
“I’m ready to take on the role of team leader. Yuki is a very quick driver, and he will help us move the team forward – we will work together to achieve that,” said Gasly, the team’s all-time top points scorer. “I really believe last year was the team’s best in terms of the way it worked, the development, the performance and the way it managed the race weekends. I’m always hungry for more, and I’m sure we can achieve great things in 2021.”
Tsunoda, who was honored with the Anthoine Hubert Award for best Formula 2 rookie in 2020, added, “I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with Scuderia AlphaTauri ahead of the season, so I’m already developing strong relationships and learning a lot from them – including Pierre, who is an incredible talent. My main goal is to learn quickly and deliver results as soon as possible, and I’m really excited to get started.”
The launch at the AlphaTauri Showroom not only gave Gasly and Tsunoda a preview of the AlphaTauri Autumn/Winter 2021 fashion collection, but the drivers had the chance to select their new off-grid looks ahead of the season start.
Ahmet Mercan, CEO AlphaTauri, summarized: “This is a triple reveal at a unique point of time: a new AlphaTauri Showroom where fashion meets F1, a first look at the AW21 AlphaTauri collection and the unveiling of the new Scuderia AlphaTauri F1 livery and driver pairing.”
Scuderia AlphaTauri fans don’t have long to wait for racing action: The FIA Formula 1 season kicks off at the Bahrain Test on 12-14 March, in preparation for the Bahrain Grand Prix on 28 March.
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