Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank changes CEO

DUBAI, May 16 (Reuters) - National Commercial Bank , Saudi Arabia’s largest bank by assets, said on Wednesday that chief executive Saeed al-Ghamdi had resigned, with sources familiar with the matter telling Reuters that he is set to be appointed chairman.

In his place, Faisal Omar al-Sakkaf, NCB’s former head of strategy and business development, has been appointed as acting chief executive, the bank said in a statement.

Al-Sakkaf is expected to become chief executive permanently once formal procedures are completed, the same sources said, with one adding that the shake-up was a normal “changing of the guard” at the bank.

NCB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bank appointed al-Ghamdi, who also serves as board member of the Institute of International Finance and chairman of the Saudi Credit Bureau, as chief executive in 2013.

Mansour al-Maiman is NCB’s current chairman and has served in the position since 2013.

Separately, the bank said on Wednesday that its shareholders had approved a hike in the bank’s capital by 10 billion riyals ($2.7 billion) via the issue of bonus shares.

NCB said it will increase its capital to 30 billion riyals from retained earnings, by issuing one bonus share for every two shares owned, subject to approval from shareholders and authorities.

No money is being raised from shareholders, who are getting the new shares for free, but the move is an accounting device that bolsters the bank’s equity, thus helping secure future lending.

“This recommendation is based on the board’s desire to support and strengthen the bank’s capital base to enable it to achieve growth rates in the bank’s business and expand new activities over the coming years,” NCB said in the statement.

The kingdom’s banks are eyeing opportunities stemming from planned government reforms such as privatising state-owned assets and lifting the ban on women driving.

$1 = 3.7502 riyals Editing by Elaine Hardcastle