On Friday, 27/4/2012, Bank of Palestine held the annual average assembly at its headquarters in Ramallah with connection via video conference to the headquarters in Gaza City. The assembly was attended by Hashim Shawa, General Manager of BoP, BoP's board members, representatives of the Ministry of Economy, the Palestine Stock Exchange, the Palestinian Monetary Fund, Ernst and Young (BoP's external auditors) and a large crowd of shareholders, economists, businessmen and media.
The following items were on the agenda of this year's annual assembly: discuss and approve the Board of Director's report, discuss and approve the financial statements of 2011, discuss the Board of Director's recommendations regarding the distribution of profits to shareholders, approving the auditors report, and discharging the Board of Directors. The legal quorum of the meeting was obtained by an attendance rate of 62.95% in Gaza and the West Bank.
Within the context of the meeting, the general assembly approved the Board of Director's recommendation of distribute $23 million to the shareholders, $14 million of which are bonus shares, making the paid up capital equal to $134 million, and $9 million as cash dividend for shareholders.
In his opening speech, Shawa reviewed BoP's achievements during the past year, during which BoP became a strong brand well known among major financial institutions and banks, which named it "Best Bank in Palestine" by Euromoney. Moreover, BoP's financial indicators have all risen during 2011, and the net profit reached $33.98 million with an increase of 12.82%. The Bank's assets rose to $1.65 billion, making it the largest Palestinian company in terms of assets. Total shareholders property rights amounted to $194 million, deposits rose to $1.296 billion, and the credit facilities portfolio reached $720 million, compared with $545 million in 2010 (an increase of 32.1%).
During 2010 alone, four new BoP branches were open around the country as part of BoP's growth and expansion strategy, bringing the total number of branches to 46 branches and offices. The new branches were opened in major cities as well as remote and rural areas, thus reaching to more than 100,000 people in an area where no banking services are provided. IN 2012, BoP plans on opening new branches in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho.
Keeping abreast of rapid developments the financial sector, Shawa noted BoP's implementation of new programs that meet the needs of different customers segments by launching a number of new services including PalPay, an electronic payments company, and Bancassurance, which provides banking insurance services.
Shawa further noted Bank of Palestine’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS), where BoP believes that true progress begins with social and economic development on a community level. This has been BoP's belief and commitment since its founding which explains why BoP has been leading in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Palestine dedicating around 5% of the net profits to CSR. In 2010 alone, BoP’s CSR budget reached around $1.5 million, and covered the following sectors: Youth and sports, education, health, arts, culture, tourism, and other humanitarian work. This year, BoP was recognized by the Association of Banks in Palestine as the “Largest contributor to CSR among Banks in Palestine.
In recognition of BoP's efforts and leading role in the Palestinian banking sector, BoP was able to maintain its "Best Bank in Palestine" title from various international rankings, including Euromoney Award for Excellence 2011, EMEA Finance, Global Finance (as the Best Bank in Palestine for International Trade), New Economy (for sustainability), IFC (as Best Bank in the Middle East and North Africa for SME's despite difficult circumstances) and JP Morgan Award for the tenth year in a row.
BoP plans on providing a full range of financial products and services that meet the needs and aspirations of all segments of Palestine, in order to help simulate the growth of the national economy in the short and long term. BoP seeks to find modern banking services and solutions for working on a wider geographical range in Palestine and for more segments of the society.
In conclusion, Shawa expressed his appreciation and gratitude for BoP's shareholders for their support and trust, and to the Palestinian Monetary Authority for the commitment and devotion to helping BoP achieve its objectives towards contributing to building the Palestinian national economy. At the end of the meeting, the general assembly approved the Board of Directors' and Ernst and Young's reports, approved the dividends proposed by the Board of Directors, and authorized the latter to choose an auditor for 2012.