Saudi British Bank (SABB) and Alawwal bank have officially combined their banking operations, following regulatory and shareholder approvals.

The SABB-Alawwal merger creates the third largest bank by assets in Saudi Arabia with nearly $71bn in combined assets.

As a part of the deal, all Alawwal’s assets and liabilities will be absorbed by SABB.

Currently, both the banks will continue to operate normally, until the integration of their products and services are complete. The integration is expected to take around 18 to 24 months to complete.

SABB managing director David Dew said: “The combination of SABB and Alawwal bank creates huge potential for our customers and staff.

“The increased scale and capacity will allow us to support the growing needs of our diverse customer base, while also providing unrivalled international connectivity for retail, corporate and institutional clients.

“Our focus now is on our customers while at the same time completing the integration process and executing our vision of being the leading international bank in the Kingdom.”

In May 2018, the two Saudi lenders signed a preliminary deal to combine their operations through a share exchange ratio. It was followed by the confirmation in October last year.

As at end of financial year 2018, the combined bank will have total revenue of SAR10.9bn ($2.91bn).

It will boast around one million retail customers and will be the second largest corporate bank in terms of assets.

The bank customers will also have access to an international banking network.