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Thursday, 16 August 2007

Equity Rule Vital To HSBC Amanah to Expand to Brunei Darussalam

Bandar Seri Begawan - Changes to the mandated ownership structure for Islamic banks in the sultanate are among factors that HSBC Brunei is awaiting before it decides to set up its own Syariah-compliant banking unit here. HSBC, the international bank noted to have the largest Islamic banking team, has earlier expressed interest in establishing Islamic banking operations in Brunei. The sultanate currently requires international bodies wishing to set up an Islamic bank in the country to split equity ownership with a local. "The existing law only allows 50 per cent of non-Bruneians to participate, the other half must be Bruneian (government) owned. This is a difficult situation for us as a group," Rosdi Amin Yaakub, deputy CEO of HSBC told The Brunei Times. At the moment, the Ministry of Finance is still drafting new guidelines for setting up an Islamic bank in Brunei. The order is expected to be finalised by year end or by the first quarter of next year. HSBC is already beefing up preparations for the possible set-up of an HSBC Amanah here. "Once they are ready, then we are ready," the deputy CEO said. There are only two providers of Islamic banking services in Brunei: Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) and the Tabung Amanah Islam Brunei (TAIB). With some support from the government, more Syariah-compliant banking institutes will also join in to work towards the sultanate's vision of becoming an Islamic banking hub. HSBC Amanah is already established in Malaysia as well as in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States, providing a myriad of services both for personal and corporate banking. - (The Brunei Times)

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