Commercial Bank ‘committed’ to Turkey on long term: CEO

Commercial Bank is “committed to Turkey on a long-term” and considers it a “very important market”, said Group CEO Joseph Abraham. “Our overall commitment to Turkey remains undiminished,” Abraham told Gulf Times in an interview in Doha yesterday.  Currently, Commercial Bank owns 100% shares of Alternatif Bank, one of the fastest growing Turkish banks. Commercial Bank became the majority shareholder in Alternatif Bank in 2013 holding a 74.24% stake, following the acquisition of Alternatif Bank shares of 70.84% from the Anadolu Group and 3.40% through a public tender offer.

In December 2016, the bank completed the put option exercise of purchasing 25% of share in Alternatif Bank from Anadolu group.  Asked whether Commercial Bank’s perception on Turkey has changed following the economic downturn in the country, Abraham said, “Not at all. Turkey is a very important market in terms of its geopolitical positioning, importance as an economy, size of its population and importance to the Gulf region.And even more so, post-blockade, the relationship between Turkey and Qatar has become very strong.

“We have recently bought a head office in Istanbul for $50mn. The new head office is set to be formally inaugurated later this year. We have also put in additional $50mn as capital. All these show our commitment on a long term.”  “Commercial Bank has been around for 42 years. So, we are always long-term in our thinking,” Abraham noted.  On the Alternatif Bank roadmap, Abraham said, “We have a strategic roadmap. We are still on the roadmap. Yes, there has been some volatility in Turkey, and obviously, we factor that into our planning. But our overall commitment to Turkey remains undiminished.”


Abraham (left) and Sah: Turkey is a very important market

In an earlier interview Abraham had noted, “Alternatif Bank remains a strategic asset and an important opportunity for us to leverage outside the GCC market.” Abraham said Commercial Bank was looking at opening three branches in the initial phases of the Qatar’s metro system. “We think there will be a lot of traffic through the metro. That will be part of the future evolution of banking,” he said. On preferring malls and other popular commercial facilities for housing new branches, Abraham said, “Our customers want to access banking services in the way that is most convenient for them. Some prefer to make the most of our digital services and do all their banking online, while others prefer to visit branches in person. Most of our customers want both options.

“For example, they may carry out everyday transactions online or via their mobile devices, whilst choosing to visit our branches to focus on their financial planning and more complex transactions. It’s all about providing a holistic experience for our customers.” Speaking to Gulf Times, Commercial Bank executive general manager and head of Consumer Banking Amit Sah said, “Our brand and design in the Metro branches will broadly remain the same. But allotted space in each metro station will be different. So, we will adapt our design to the space available. Essentially, metro will be a combination of very strong self-service with manned banking.”

“We aim to be the bank of choice in Qatar. With our impressive suite of digital products and services, combined with our network of strategically-located branches, I truly believe that Commercial Bank offers an unrivalled customer experience in Qatar,” Sah said.

Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times