The United Bank aims to implement a plan to end pending problems that were inherited from three banks it merged with, and to build a strong banking entity capable of competing with other operating banks in the domestic market, said acting Chairman and Managing Director Farag Abdel Hamed. The bank, which is 99% owned by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), was established in 2006. It was formed through a merger between three former banking entities – the Egyptian United Bank, the Islamic Bank for Development and Investment and the Nile Bank – when their assets were declining and they were unable to increase their capitals. The bank inherited losses of nearly EGP 6.5bn, and a distressed debt portfolio of almost a similar size. In September, CBE issued a decision appointing Farag Abdel Hamed as acting Chairman and Managing Director of the bank to the end of December, succeeding Mohamed Ashmawy, who was appointed Executive Director of the “Long live Egypt” fund. According to Abdel Hamed, work at the United Bank is ongoing according to a specific and carefully thought-out strategy on two parallel aspects. The completion of the distressed debt portfolio that is affecting the business volume of the bank is one aspect. The second aspect pertains to building a strong local banking entity capable of competing under open market mechanisms. This is through the implementation of an action plan to ensure the spread of branches and services, and to put in place a distinct package of banking products that meets the contemporary needs of customers. He added that the United Bank introduced to the Egyptian market a range of banking and financing products for individuals and businesses, especially to the small and medium-sized enterprises sector, which tops the priorities of the bank. Several factors assisted in the bank’s expansion plan, and maximised the return on the funds invested in it. On top of these factors is the bank’s 50 branches, in addition to the 12 new branches that were approved by the CBE this year and are soon to join the network, and the electronic banking services offered by the bank, according to Abdel Hamed. Abdel Hamed said the bank’s current activities did not halt its social responsibility, as it established a separate department for social work under named Ithar-Altruism. He explained that this department has successfully raised more than EGP 28m, and distributed them to a broad base of more than 62 community associations and NGOs that do volunteer and charity work all over the country. He added that the department has expanded its social activities and developmental investments, to serve a number of vital areas, including various types of therapy, scientific research, and the educational system.