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Friday, 17 August 2007

Takaful Ikhlas expands ops to Saudi Arabia

KUALA LUMPUR: Takaful Ihklas Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MNRB Holdings Bhd, has submitted an application to Bank Negara Malaysia and Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) to expand its operations to Saudi Arabia. Takaful Ikhlas chief executive officer Syed Moheeb Syed Kamarulzaman said it was also looking to other countries with a large Muslim population and those with mature financial markets for further expansion. “We are currently seeking approval from Bank Negara and PNB to expand abroad and we are eyeing countries with high net-worth value and large Muslim population. “We see Saudi Arabia as one of the possibilities but do not discount India, China and the UK as possible markets to expand into,” he told The Edge Financial Daily in an interview here recently. PNB holds a direct 11.75% stake in MNRB, while its fund Skim Amanah Saham Bumiputera has a 48.68% stake in the company. “Takaful Ikhlas is not zeroing in on the Middle East alone. We are also looking to expand in countries with a majority Muslim population or in countries where there are a large number of Muslims such as India and China,” he said. “At the end of the day, we measure the economic viability of the project, we cannot discount going into the UK market, for example. “They are more affluent and they better appreciate insurance and the growth rate on investment might be better in the developed markets,” he added. Syed Moheeb said Takaful Ikhlas would fund the expansion by tapping into the group’s cash reserves. MNRB has total assets of RM1.9 billion, consisting of fixed income papers, loan stocks, bonds, equity and cash. Syed Moheeb said Takaful Ikhlas would be able to attract the right kind of partners for its expansion as it had the experience and technical expertise to operate a takaful business. “For us, we will be able to add value to any local partners as we have the experience in setting up a takaful business, and we have the IT (information technology) system to support our business. “We also have the necessary understanding to make family takaful successful. In the past four years, we have built up the technical expertise to help our partners whoever they may be,” he said. On the local front, Syed Moheeb said Takaful Ikhlas was planning to expand to Putrajaya, Melaka, Kuantan, Kota Kinabalu and Ipoh by January next year. Syed Moheeb said the expansion would help Takaful Ikhlas reach its earlier premium target of RM40 million or a 46% increase for its financial year ending March 31, 2008. - (TDE, 17 Aug 07)
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