Samba Financial Group

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Samba Financial Group
Industry Finance
Founded 1980
Headquarters Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Key people
Eisa M. Al-Eisa, Chairman
Sajjad Razvi Managing Director and CEO
Products Financial Services
Revenue N/A
Number of employees
Slogan World Class Banking

Samba Financial Group (formerly known as The Saudi American Bank), is a large banking firm in Saudi Arabia. The combined institution had 66 branches in the Kingdom. Its international operations consist of a branch each in London, Qatar and Dubai, as well as a subsidiary that has 28 branches across major cities in Pakistan.


Samba, or The Saudi American Bank as it was once known, was established on February 12, 1980 with the takeover of Citibank branches in Jeddah and Riyadh in accordance with a Saudi nostrification program that forced all foreign banks to convert their branches to affiliates with Saudi nationals acquiring at least 60% ownership. Citigroup entered a Technical Management Agreement under which it agreed to manage the new bank. The former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz, was the Managing Director of the bank in the 1990s.

First National City Bank (Citibank) opened its Jeddah branch in 1955, and its Riyadh branch in 1966. Citibank created SAMBA, in which it took a 40% share, to take over its branches in Saudi Arabia, pursuant to a Royal Decree on February 12, 1980. In 1985 SAMBA opened a branch in Istanbul that it closed after 1994, and at one point maintained a subsidiary in Geneva and a representative office in Beirut. In the late 1980s SAMBA opened a branch in London.

In July 1999 SAMBA merged with United Saudi Bank by an exchange of shares, to form one of the largest banks in the Middle East. Before the merger Citibank owned 30 percent of SAMBA, having sold a 10 percent tranche to two public agencies in 1991. After the merger Citibank was still the largest shareholder with 23 percent of the shares. Kingdom Holding Company (owned by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal) also had a large share ownership deriving from his ownership in United Saudi Bank.

SAMBA was always the acronym for the Saudi American Bank but the name was changed to Samba Financial Group permanently in 2003 and all references to Saudi American Bank were removed. This name change followed Citibank's decision to pull out of Saudi Arabia and sell its by then 20% stake to the General Organisation for Social Insurance. Officially, this was done due to the anticipated relaxation of laws governing foreign banks' operations in the Kingdom. Some speculate that this was due to rising anti-American sentiment in Saudi Arabia. This has become more evident after the change of the Saudi British Bank name as well to SABB in 2006. Nevertheless SABB is still an HSBC partnership and they have changed their artwork and colors from Green and White to the HSBC logo.

In March 2007, Samba Financial Group acquired 68% of Crescent Commercial Bank Limited (CCBL) in Pakistan. CCBL, established in 2002, was formerly known as Mashreq Bank Pakistan Limited, which in turn was the result of the merger in 2003 of Crescent Investment Bank Limited and the Pakistan branches of Mashreq Bank psc. CCBL is now named Samba Bank. It currently operates 28 branches across Pakistan; the bank hopes to expand its network of branches in 2015.

In 2008, Samba opened a branch in Dubai.

In August 2011, Samba made the list of top ten safest banks 2011 in the Middle East ranked at number four.[1]


  1. ^ "Saudi Arabia hosts 5 out of 10 safest banks in ME - Arab News". 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011. Samba Financial Group 

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