The National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) has launched a representative office in Antwerp as it looks to expand its business lending to established diamond traders.
The Dubai-based bank targets wholesalers with secure sources of income and solid product traceability, its CEO, Vince Cook, told Rapaport News last week. The new office will help it improve its market knowledge and strengthen its relationships with those clients, while benefiting from Belgium’s strong compliance regime, he said.
“This is a recognition of Antwerp’s position in the global trade,” Cook said. “To not be there seemed to be a bit of a gap in our longer-term aspirations.”
NBF has lent to the gold and jewelry industry for many years, and later decided to enter the diamond space. Aware that the sector operated in a different way from the industries it knew, it launched its diamond-focused office in Dubai in 2015 by hiring a team from the defunct Antwerp Diamond Bank (ADB).
Its diamond business has grown, but it became clear that it needed a base in Belgium to develop the division, as many of its clients had operations in both Antwerp and Dubai, Cook noted. It will still provide its loans out of the Dubai office, as it’s not a licensed bank in Belgium.
NBF’s practice of creaming off the clients with the most suitable business models enables it to expand in a sector from which other banks are retreating, Cook explained. ADB, ABN Amro, Standard Chartered and India’s ICICI Bank have all left the business or scaled back their lending in recent years.