How did Attijari bank become one of Tunisia’s largest banks?
This institution used to be called Banque du Sud, created in 1968 to serve the country’s southern regions. At the time of its privatisation by Attijariwafa bank in 2005, it was going through serious difficulties. We have invested heavily over a long period, and we now boast the most extensive network in Tunisia: 187 branches.
Attijari bank Tunisie is a universal bank, actively engaged in launching new pro-ducts and services targeting all customer segments. It operates, through its specialised affiliates, in several financial areas: leasing, venture capital investment, asset management, stock brokerage, insurance and investment banking.
In what ways has Attijari bank contributed to the performance of the Tunisian banking sector?
Professionals within the sector and government authorities agree on the fact that Attijari bank has made history in the Tunisian market. It has required a substantial investment. We have recruited, trained and instilled our teams with commercial spirit. Such an effort has had a clear impact on the bank usage rates, deposits and credits in Tunisia, which show double-digit growth. We have also heavily invested in our IT system and in the construction of our new corporate headquarters with a total built area of 42,000 m2.
Our synergies with the Attijariwafa bank group, the leading banking group in North Africa, place us in an ideal position to accompany investors in their quest for new markets throughout the world, notably in Africa: Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Ivory Coast, Congo, Gabon, Cameroon. For the second year running our institution has received the Best Bank award from Trade Finance.
As part of this investment effort you have just set up a new insurance operation, haven’t you?
Right. We have identified a great margin of opportunity in the life insurance sector, to dynamise savings. If we compare ratios between Morocco and Tunisia, they stand at 1 to 3 and 1 to 20, respectively, versus Portugal. This means there is a market that has not been approached in the right way. In Tunisia, financing of the state budget via private savings is trivial. The Insurance companies are, in my view, the greatest source of funding for the State.
What is your ambition for Attijari bank in the country?
We have a leading label in terms of brand image and banking service quality that meets our customers’ expectations. We want to see our balance sheet improve, with a good level of profitability through appropriate risk management and a high level of banking service quality.
Do you have a closing message?
Tunisia is a good place to invest on account of its human competencies, good logistics services and geographical location. Investing in Tunisia is not a risky exercise, with return on investment standing at levels that one would not consider attainable in many other countries.