By David Ssempijja
THE Bank of Uganda has approved Abu Dhabi investors as the majority shareholders in National Bank of Commerce (NBC). This comes three years after the investors agreed to acquire a 76% stake in the bank and, consequently, restructure it into the Islamic banking system.
The bank is expected to be operational in the last quarter of this year under new management.
According to the July 8 approval communication from the Central Bank, Ahmed Darwish Almarar, the new bank chairman, first acquired 25.4% shares under Emirates Link for Strategic Alliance, where he is the majority shareholder.
â€œApproval is hereby granted to register shares of his company and to increase shares purchased to 49%. The shares are to be purchased from Amama Mbabazi, Amos Nzeyi and Ruhakana Rugunda,â€ Benedict Ssekabira, the Central Bank acting director for supervision, said in the communiquÃ©.
â€œEven though the process was difficult, the Central Bank responded positively after a thorough check on the credentials of the owners and the board proposed by the new owners.
â€œThe bank also approved the new directors of the new NBC board, which is made of people with a lot of experience from the Middle East and European banking industries,â€ said Darwish.
Most peculiar to Islamic banking system is that the financial institution may extend long-and-short-term loans to individuals, small-scale businesses and corporations interest free.
Darwish said that NBC had undergone major transformation operations by the new owners to enable it to launch very high standards banking services and turn Uganda into the headquarters of Islamic banking operations in east Africa.
He added that the successful programs that the new board has implemented in the Middle East through their bankâ€™s network will be implemented in Uganda; targeting to revolutionalise the banking sector in Uganda.
Darwish, also the chairman of Hits-Orange said NBC will introduce innovative solutions to the community to help propel various sectors toward their goals and have a positive impact on the grass root person.
â€œWe are proud to partner with this supportive government, we found great potential in various sectors that we chose to invest in, we have the knowhow; and with pleasure, we will give and not sell it to our Ugandan brothers and sister to benefit of us all,â€ he added.