Vince Cook, CEO of The National Bank of Fujairah, at the opening of the bank’s new representative office in Antwerp Sunday. He said the UAE-based bank is “committed to using our presence in Antwerp to build on our reputation as one of the leading banks in the diamond business.”
Antwerp—The National Bank of Fujairah opened a representative office Sunday in Antwerp, expanding its activities in the rough trading hub that, like so much of the diamond industry, has been hurt by the exit of lenders in recent years.

Based in Dubai, NBF is one of the UAE’s largest bullion banks in terms of service coverage and provides an array of structured derivatives in commodities as well as base and precious metals.

The bank got into diamond financing in 2015, bringing experts from the now-defunct Antwerp Diamond Bank to Dubai to run the business. It primarily provides short-term purchase and sales financing to established diamond traders.

NBF already was lending to diamond traders in Antwerp via its Dubai branch (it is not a licensed bank in Belgium, so all loans still go through Dubai) but is opening an office in Belgium to “help service its Antwerp-based customers by being closer to them and by providing market intelligence to its headquarters in the UAE,” the Antwerp World Diamond Centre said.

It is the first international office for NBF and is located in the center of the Antwerp’s Diamond Quarter.

NBF CEO Vince Cook, who attended Sunday’s opening ceremony along with HE Mohamed Issa Hamad Abushahab, the UAE’s ambassador to Belgium, said: “Since launching the diamond financing business, we have realized that our clients who are present in both Dubai and Antwerp would benefit from NBF being present in these two major diamond hubs.

“We are committed to using our presence in Antwerp to build on our reputation as one of the leading banks in the diamond business and grow partnerships with the local community.”

NBF’s expansion comes at a time when other banks, including ABN Amro and Standard Chartered, have scaled back or cut out financing to the diamond industry entirely.

Antwerp specifically has seen two Indian banks, ICIC Bank and Union Bank of India, close their offices there in recent months.

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