Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) has appointed Jabra Ghandour as its chief executive officer and board member, effective 25 March 2016, replacing Michael Williams who becomes a non-executive director.

Ghandour has more than 30 years’ experience in private, corporate and retail banking, having managed major institutions across the Gulf. He joined BLME in late 2015 and has been instrumental in refining the Bank’s strategy and business plan.

During the last 13 years Ghandour has held senior positions within the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) Group, latterly as managing director and board member of the International Bank of Qatar representing NBK.

As chief executive, Jabra will be responsible for driving BLME’s growing the wealth management arm alongside its revitalised corporate banking offering.

Jabra succeeds Michael Williams, who was appointed as interim chief executive in May 2015, and who will resume his role as non-executive director on the board of BLME.

Ghandour said: "I’m thrilled to be taking this role at such an important time for BLME. 2015 was a year of positive change for the bank, as it more closely aligned its objectives to ensure that it is best placed to facilitate business and investment activity between the UK and the Gulf. We will be growing our wealth management products and services substantially in order to serve better our clients in the Gulf alongside our established and expert Corporate Banking offering to the UK mid-market.

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"Underpinning everything we do is a desire to build strong relationships and be ready and able to provide innovative Sharia’a compliant solutions to a broad range of institutional, corporate and, of increasing importance, to individual high net worth clients. Our strong UK-Gulf links are a major competitive advantage and we plan to build on this further over the coming years. I look forward to continuing the good work started by Michael Williams."

Last month Leasing Life reported that BLME was entering the UK SME market following the acquisition of Renaissance Asset Finance, due to complete on 4 April.

Adel Al Majed, chairman of BLME, said: "Jabra Ghandour brings a wealth of experience building market-leading banks. Combined with the role he has played in developing our new strategic approach, he is ideally positioned to leverage BLME’s UK expertise and existing business to create new product and investment opportunities for our Gulf investors.

"This is an exciting time for the bank, as we come to the end of our major strategic review, and I’m delighted to welcome Jabra as our new CEO. I would also like to thank Michael Williams for his excellent work overseeing our day-to-day activities, driving a period of transition and leaving us in a stronger position to deliver."