Standard Chartered has announced plans to open a branch in Erbil. How would you characterize the potential of the banking industry in the Kurdistan Region and what are the primary motivations for getting involved here?
In line with our strategic focus on the Middle East region, Standard Chartered plans to expand its on the ground presence in Iraq by opening our first branch in Baghdad in November. This branch will be followed by one in Erbil, opening by end of 2013, and one in Basra, which is scheduled to open in the first half of 2014. In the first phase, we aim to service the increasing needs of our existing multi-national clients, notably from the oil and gas, telecommunications, and infrastructure development sectors. Our entry into the Iraqi market is built upon our positive outlook for the economic growth of the country.

Standard Chartered obviously has a great deal of experience operating in developing markets. Do any of the bank’s specific past experiences correlate to the opportunities here? Where do you see the main opportunities for the banking industry in the Region?
Standard Chartered has a clear strategic focus on Asia, Africa, and the Middle East; more than 90% of our profits and earnings are generated from those markets. The Middle East constitutes one of our strategic markets and our entry into Iraq complements our strong network across the Middle East region. The banking industry in the region is maturing, and we continue to invest in our capabilities to provide world-class banking and financial services to our clients.

How do you personally believe Standard Chartered can facilitate further development in the Kurdistan Region?
We have extensive experience in assisting both sovereign and public sector entities in achieving their development goals. As such, Standard Chartered is keen to bring this expertise to the dynamic region of Kurdistan, where the pace of development is continuously increasing. As a result of our strong international network, we believe we will be able to play a leading role in the banking and finance sectors by providing our clients with unprecedented access to some of the world’s most vibrant markets.

How would you define the medium-term goals of Standard Chartered in the Kurdistan Region?
Standard Chartered has entered into Iraq with a long-term view of building upon our existing presence and country-specific expertise that was initially established in 2006 via our representative offices in Baghdad. That said, our medium term goals are to strengthen and deepen our client relationships in Iraq and to become the bank of choice for our clients in both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in general.