By A Staff Reporter -
MUSCAT — Following the merger of HSBC Middle East Ltd’s operations in Oman with Oman International Bank in June, HSBC Bank Oman SAOG announced the successful completion of the integration process in less than six months during a press briefing held at its head office in Al Khuwair.
This entailed bringing both entities onto a single systems platform and substantial investments in training and new technology infrastructure to ensure the efficient operation of the combined branch network.
On the occasion, Ewan Stirling, CEO of HSBC Bank Oman stated, “HSBC has been offering banking services in Oman for 62 years. With the successful integration of HSBC with Oman International Bank, we are now better placed than ever to provide a banking service that meets the financial needs of businesses and families throughout Oman.”
He added, “In only 112 days, employees of HSBC and OIB have managed to meet many challenges and complexities to achieve integration on time.
This was only possible thanks to all the dedicated efforts of our staff, customers and service providers who all collaborated closely in support of this new banking platform for the Sultanate.”
The merger, he said, has led to the creation of one of Oman’s largest banking institutions.
“We are now the second largest bank in Oman in terms of branch network and also hold the number three position in terms of assets. This is subject to confirmation from the Central Bank of Oman and we are still waiting for the official figures for the third quarter which will be available in either January or February 2013.”
HSBC Bank Oman now boasts a clientele of approximately 400,000 retail customers and another 10,000 commercial customers. “Currently, we have a total of 88 branches and 143 ATMs, the second largest network in the Sultanate. All ATMs are connected to the OmanNet national switch network.
This means all our customers can enjoy the convenience of using more than 1000 ATMs spread across the Sultanate,” Stirling said.
The completion of the integration marks equipping and cabling 77 branches across the Sultanate with HSBC Group standard PCs, printers and scanners in 65 days, bringing 400,000 customers onto one single banking platform through laying out 75 km of data cabling. 10 km of new carpeting was used during the refurbishment of the bank’s branch network and over 8,000 km was covered in conducting branch surveys. In addition, the bank’s Middle East and North Africa training team has travelled over 31,000 km to deliver 3,836 trainee hours to more than 1,000 new employees who are now inducted into HSBC’s growing family and the bank’s values and high performance standards.
In less than one month, more than 89,000 cards and Welcome Packs have been distributed to customers and the Bank has recently extended the deadline until December 31 for customers to visit their account opening branches to collect their personal Welcome Packs. With their new cards, customers will then be able to utilise the advantages of the bank’s recently upgraded ATM network which is connected to the OmanNet National Switch Network. In addition, they will have access to a host of financial products and services that have been specifically designed for personal and business needs.
“This is a very exciting time for us as customers begin to experience the full HSBC offering and enjoy the benefits of the business combination,” added Stirling.
The merger, he said, would translate into significant benefits for ex-OIB customers: “Former OIB customers will benefit from the two banks’ extensive knowledge of the Sultanate that dates back to more than 62 years and a much larger branch network spread across the country of 88. In addition, customers have access to a much larger ATM network connected to OmanNet National Switch Network. Former OIB customers can also enjoy many more products and services offered by HSBC to fulfil all their banking needs on a local and global level including retail, corporate and institutional customers.”
The merger would likely lead to the closure of some branches, the CEO said. “We are rationalising our current branch network. Where synergies arise, such as two branches close together, the bank will look to optimise the location. Duplicate or inefficient branches might be combined or closed, with on-going review of locations to ensure all branches are strategically placed. Such decisions to merge branches are subject to CBO approval and will be based on physical proximity, quality of branch environment, and expiring leases.”
Asked about plans, if any, for the rollout of sharia-compliant banking products and services, Stirling commented: “The Central Bank of Oman has still not finalised the regulatory framework. We will wait for the final regulatory framework, like all other banks, and make a decision on the business merits.”