24 APRIL 2002
First International Merchant Bank Chairman Najeeb Al-Saleh announced at the companys recent annual general meeting that the Malta-based bank last year had become the worlds leading bank in the specialised ship scrapping industry.
Last year FIMBank financed the scrapping of 78 ships on the international market.
Mr Al-Saleh, in Malta for the banks annual general meeting, explained, "Because of new maritime safety rules in the oil tanker industry, we expect to break even that record this year," referring to new maritime regulations banning single-hulled tankers as a result of the Erika disaster.
FIMBank has already financed the scrapping of several very large and ultra large crude carriers this year, and has just signed a US$3 million dollar deal for the scrapping of a turbine tanker.
Mr Al-Saleh told shareholders gathered for the AGM that FIMBank has since its inception achieved an annual growth rate of around 25 per cent.
"We now have a team of more than 50 people who think and breathe trade finance," he said. "In spite of major world events and economic uncertainty the world over, we have been able to increase our market share, increasing both the volume and the value of transactions, and we have continued to consolidate our core business," explained Mr Al-Saleh.
He adds that although the drop in interest rates, from 6.5 per cent to 1.75 per cent, negatively affected the banks income, "It should not be of concern in the future because lower interest rates create a better environment for international trade and, in general, the lowering of interest rates is a positive step towards the recovery of the world economy."
First International Merchant Bank is a public limited liability company, registered in 1994 in Malta. It is licensed to carry on the business of banking as a credit institution in terms of Maltas Banking Act.
FIMBanks activities are primarily two-fold and, in addition to ship scrapping, the bank also operates in structured trade financing and, as a merchant bank, is geared toward the more complex trade transactions that require careful structuring and a more personalised service.