Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank agree the prominent businesswoman will be the chairperson of the board of combined bank on completion of merger
Announcement latest in a list of appointments of women to senior management positions in the Kingdom
RIYADH, Oct 4, 2018 – Prominent Saudi business woman Lubna Al Olayan has been named the chairwoman of the board of directors of a new bank resulting from the merger of Saudi British Bank (SABB) and Alawwal Bank. This marks the first time a woman will head the board of a publicly-listed bank in the Kingdom.
The boards of the two banks on Thursday approved the merger that will result in the creation of the Kingdom’s third-largest lender.
“SABB would like to announce to its shareholders that it entered into a binding merger agreement on 3 October 2018 with Alawwal bank under which the two banks agreed to take the necessary steps to implement a merger” the bank said in a statement filed on Thursday with the Saudi stock exchange, Tadawul.
The news was confirmed by Alawwal bank, which tweeted: “We’re pleased to announce Alawwal bank Board of Directors have decided to recommend a merger with SABB.”
The two merging banks said that Mrs. Olayan was nominated by the board of directors of Alawwal, where she has served as Vice Chairperson since 2014. She is also the CEO and Vice Chairperson of Olayan Financing Co., a holding company founded by her father in 1947 that is the umbrella for more than 40 firms. She has also been a member of the board of directors of diversified mining firm Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Maaden) since 2016.
“On completion of the merger, it has also been agreed that the necessary steps will be taken to implement the following: Lubna Sulaiman Olayan, who will be one of the directors proposed by Alawwal bank, will become Chairman of the Board of the combined group,” said the SABB note filed with Tadawul.
The Vice-Chairman of the Board of the combined group will be nominated for appointment from amongst the directors of the combined bank who are current directors of SABB. David Dew will become the Managing Director of the combined group, it added.
The new Board and executive management appointees will assume their roles when the merger is completed. In the interim, Mr. David Dew and Mr. Soren Nikolajsen will continue to lead the two banks independently as Managing Directors of SABB and Alawwal bank, respectively.
“These are exciting times for all of us at SABB as we work through a merger process that is expected to be completed during the first half of 2019 and on which shareholders will then vote,” Dew said in a statement posted on SABB’s website.
In May, SABB and Alawwal announced their agreement to merge to create the third largest lender in the Kingdom with approximately $77 billion in assets. Under the deal, SABB, which is 40 percent owned by UK-based HSBC, will buy Alawwal, 40 percent owned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The deal is worth about SAR 18.6 billion, or just under USD 5 billion.
Olayan’s appointment to head the combined bank’s board is the latest in a list of appointments of women to senior management and other positions in the Kingdom. Last month, Weam Al Dakheel entered the history books when she became the first female in the history of state-owned Saudi TV Channel 1 to present the prime-time nightly newscast, a role traditionally dominated by men.
The empowerment of Saudi women is a key pillar of Saudi Vision 2030, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and a series of reforms initiated in the Kingdom were specifically aimed at the empowerment of women. Notable among these moves was a Royal Decree in September 2017 by King Salman bin Abdulaziz allowing women to drive as of June 24, 2018. Vision 2030 also aims to increase the percentage of women in the workforce. Women are now allowed into sports stadiums and allowed to attend concerts and other public gatherings.
But with a long list of other firsts and accolades under her arm, the U.S.-educated Olayan is really a trailblazer and a pioneer who has shattered stereotypes of Saudi women. She was listed by Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in 2005 and was on the Forbes list of “Global Power 50 Women” list for many years. Forbes also named her to its “World’s Most Powerful Women” list in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
She also was the first woman to deliver an opening keynote address — entitled “A Saudi Vision for Growth” — at the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2004, a major conference in Saudi Arabia.
Olayan, 63, also serves on the boards of a number of international industrial and investment companies. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Cornell University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Indiana University. Olayan was also named Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year 2010.