Standard Chartered announced today the launch of its wholesale banking operations in Iraq with the opening of its head office and first branch in Baghdad. Nuri Al Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq inaugurated Standard Chartered’s head office during a ceremony held at the Bank’s premises. Present at the ceremony was Dr. Abdel Basit Turki Saeed, Governor of Central Bank of Iraq and Dr. Sami Al Araji, Chairman of National Investment Comission. The Bank will be opening two more branches in the country; in Erbil in December of 2013 and in Basra during the first half of 2014.
The move makes Standard Chartered the first international bank to have full-fledged on-the-ground wholesale banking operations in Iraq. The Bank also announced the appointment of Gavin Wishart as CEO, Standard Chartered Iraq. Gavin will be based in Baghdad and will report to Christos Papadopoulos, Regional CEO, MENAP, Standard Chartered Bank.
Standard Chartered expects to play a key role in the development of Iraq’s financial sector and be an active participant in the economic growth of the country. Standard Chartered’s main aim is to meet the increasing banking needs of its global network clients in Iraq, notably in the power, oil, telecoms and infrastructure sectors and to support large government projects.
The ceremony was also attended by British Ambassador in Iraq, Simon Collis, Mark Bryson-Richardson, Deputy Head of the British Mission in Iraq, Chris Maskell, Head of UK Trade and Investment in Iraq, Catherine Pye, Deputy Head UK Trade & Investment in Iraq and Mehdi Taher, First Secretary Economics. Christos Papadopoulos, Regional CEO, MENAP, Standard Chartered Bank, Alex Manson, Group Head of Wholesale Banking Geographies, Standard Chartered Bank, Tarek Anwar, Co Head of Wholesale Banking for MENAP, and a host of senior representatives from the Bank were also present at the ceremony.
Commenting on the Bank’s entry into Iraq, Simon Collis the British Ambassador to Iraq said, “I am delighted to see Standard Chartered, one of Britain’s leading financial institutions, open their offices in Iraq. Finance plays a vital role in economic development. The UK is dedicated to promoting a vibrant, open, transparent and diversified financial sector in Iraq. For Iraq to realise its full potential and take its rightful place in the global economy it needs to attract massive investments. The financial sector is key to this. Our UKTI team at the British Embassy in Baghdad is working hard and effectively to enable a greater number of British businesses and Iraqi institutions take advantage of the great opportunities available from working together to strengthen the commercial and financial ties between our countries in the interests of all.”
Standard Chartered has been present in Iraq since 2006 through a representative office in Erbil. On September 4, 2013 the Central Bank of Iraq has announced that Standard Chartered has received approval to open branches in Iraq.
Commenting on the entry into Iraq, Christos Papadopoulos, Regional CEO, Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, Standard Chartered Bank said, “Our entry into Iraq comes in line with our continuous efforts to organically expand our on-the-ground presence in the Middle East, which is a key strategic region for Standard Chartered. It also reinforces our brand promise, “Here for good” as we expect to play a key role in the development of the Iraqi financial sector and the economic development of the country. As a client-centric bank, expanding our presence in Iraq will cater to the increasing banking needs of our international clients operating in Iraq. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and the concerned regulators for their cooperation and support of our entry into Iraq.”
During the inauguration, Gavin Wishart, Chief Executive Officer, Iraq, Standard Chartered Bank said, “We are optimistic about the prospects of the Iraqi economy. As an international bank, we believe there is substantial opportunity to play a leading role in the economic development of the country. In addition to servicing our existing clients, the Iraqi government is planning large scale infrastructure projects and these will require international financing solutions. Standard Chartered Bank is ideally positioned to provide the necessary leadership, support, skills and access to international markets to enable these initiatives to be undertaken and to develop the local financial sector.”
Before becoming CEO of Iraq, Gavin Wishart, was Head of Banks for Middle East and North Africa at Standard Chartered. He has extensive experience across the bank’s network in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
According to the latest economic research by Standard Chartered, the Iraq economy’s real GDP will grow by 6.7% during 2013 and 9% during 2014.
Standard Chartered is a leading international banking group. It has operated for over 150 years in some of the world’s most dynamic markets and earns around 90 per cent of its income and profits in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The bank has 1,700 offices in 70 markets and employs 88,000 staff across its footprint. It is committed to building a sustainable business over the long term and upholding high standards of corporate governance, social responsibility, environmental protection and employee diversity. Standard Chartered’s heritage and values are expressed in its brand promise, ‘Here for good’.
In the Middle East, Standard Chartered has been operating for more than 92 years. The Bank has more than 8500 employees from 73 nationalities.