Good time to make acquisitions; says Dubai bank CEO

Saturday saw the head of Mashreq bank, Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair commenting that it seems that the United Arab Emirates has passed through the worst of the global financial crisis and presently, it is quite a good time to make acquisitions.

Al-Ghurair, who interacted with reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Jordan, said that he feels they have reached the bottom and the worst is behind them. He added that though they are not sure how long this will last, however they have stabilized.

The bank had put acquisitions on the backburner for last six months to concentrate on its existing business and in April it initiated retail operations in Egypt with 10 branches with a capital outlay of 560 million pounds ($99.4 million).

Ghurair expressed that the bank had no immediate plans for buyouts and informed, "It has never been a better time for any acquisition ... this is the time to do an acquisition because valuations have come down quite dramatically."

In the first-quarter this month, a 4% rise was posted by Mashreq, which raised provisions to help it weather the financial crisis.

It was specified by Ghurair that a lot of help was provided to bank by measures taken by the government and central bank to improve banking sector liquidity, including 120 billion dirhams ($32.67 billion) in funding facilities.

The 2008 profit for Mashreq plunged 13.7 percent to 1.64 billion dirhams.