The Business Year

Hussain Al Yafai

OMAN - Finance

Hussain Al Yafai

CEO, Standard Chartered Bank OMAN

Bio

Hussain Al Yafai has been the CEO and head of corporate, commercial, and institutional banking for Standard Chartered Oman since 2019. He joined the bank in 2005 as the regional business planning manager for financial markets in Dubai, where he led various high-profile debt capital market transactions for MENA. He later returned to Oman and was appointed head of wholesale banking in 2013, later becoming the head of global banking in 2016. Currently, Al Yafai is responsible for leading the implementation of Standard Chartered Oman’s strategy across the business and functions and overseeing the development of CCIB client segment in the country.

Standard Chartered Bank uses its global banking operation to best support government initiatives that positively impact the economy.

What have been the major highlights for Standard Chartered Bank’s operations in Oman?

The pandemic changed the way we think, behave, and do business. We are now comfortable working from home, and our clients are well attended to. The banking industry performed well in 2020, given the current and challenging circumstances. There were many structural changes in the country due to 130-140 royal decrees that focused on greater synergies and efficiencies including the merger of ministries, cost-cutting initiatives, as well as looking for even more ways to achieve greater efficiencies. The country still needed to borrow, so we have been working with the Ministry of Finance on all the financing that the government has been doing to plug fiscal deficits. For example, the government had a USD2-billion bond issue, a USD500-million tap in October, and USD3.25 billion in December 2020 and early 2021. The ministry has been extremely active and efficient in terms of tapping the market at the right time. On top of this, government-related entities (GREs) are now much more focused, thanks to the Oman Investment Authority. Thus, there will be a great deal of action, with a great deal of financing at different levels, and many dividend recaps—which are all credit positive. The cost for the government to borrow has come down drastically in the last two or three months, especially with the release of the medium-term fiscal plan. All eyes are on VAT, and investors are watching the space.

Where do you see the role of banks in promoting sustainable business development?

The role of banks in promoting sustainable business development is huge given that we can lead and set examples on projects that can be financed, which ultimately are great economically and from a sustainability point of view. For example, in 2019, Standard Chartered issued its Sustainability Bond Framework that was designed as the basis for future green, social, and sustainability bonds to be issued. Standard Chartered is a regular issuer in the bond markets across a range of currencies and tenors. Under this framework, Standard Chartered PLC and its subsidiaries may issue three types of bonds in various formats: green bonds—debt instruments whose funds are exclusively allocated to financing new or existing green projects, in whole or in part; social bonds—debt instruments whose funds are exclusively allocated to financing new or existing social projects, in whole or in part; and sustainability bonds—debt instruments whose funds are exclusively allocated to financing new or existing green and social projects, in whole or in part. Green, social, and sustainability bond transactions use the bond markets to direct fund flows toward sustainable projects. In Oman, there are many opportunities where we’ve started to apply the same. For example, we had a sustainable finance deal with Oman Shipping. We also continue to share thoughts and ideas with GREs on how this can further apply to Oman and its future projects.

What are the benefits of getting involved in sustainable financing?

It is a win-win situation for everyone, and the impact is huge. We provide financial products and services to people and businesses to help drive sustainable development, economic growth, and job creation. Our Sustainability Aspirations set out how we aim to promote social and economic development through our core business of banking. Our new, combined USD75-billion target for sustainable infrastructure and renewable energy will support clients’ transition to a low-carbon future. Across our operations, we are challenging ourselves to go further to reduce our environmental impact. We are proud of the decision we have made in 2019 to target “net zero” emissions from our operations by 2030. For example, our green projects helped us to avoid 738,998 tons of CO2 emissions in the past year. As part of this we have financed over 1.6GW of offshore wind projects in Taiwan, financed solar projects in India and Bangladesh, and connected the Lauca Hydropower plant to the national grid in Angola.

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