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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

KFH Malaysian Chairman discusses the Malaysian economy

The Chairman of Kuwait Finance House-Malaysia Berhad Shaheen Al-Ghanim stated during a press release that the Malaysian economy is estimated to have expanded by 6.0% in 2007, with strong domestic consumption and private investments.
The broad-based growth is powered by investment activities in the services sub-sectors, property, oil & gas and Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) projects. Malaysia is in a strategic position to serve the East Asian region effectively, being centrally located in the Asian time zone, to facilitate expansion in investment and trade between the region with the Middle East, West Asia and North Africa, and to strengthen relationships between international Islamic financial markets. He added that Malaysia is also blessed with skilled and professional work force and when adapted to our Islamic banking model, will enable us to achieve a greater international reach. On the back of the upbeat economy and the socio-economic advantages, Malaysia has become a major player and innovator in the global Islamic finance industry with the Government's dedicated role in promoting the country as an international Islamic finance hub. The main components of the Malaysian Islamic financial system, comprising Islamic banking, takaful, money and capital markets, are highly integrated to create a comprehensive system and constructive marketplace. In 2006, the Malaysia International Islamic Finance Centre (MIFC) initiatives were launched to fortify Malaysia's position as a vibrant, innovative and competitive Islamic financial centre. Potential investors should also be encouraged by the specific measures introduced in Budget 2008 to encourage the development of the Islamic fund management industry and attract investments specifically from the Middle East. It is now possible to have 100% ownership in companies managing funds based on Shariah principles. Malaysia has a well developed capital markets with all domestic capital market issuances rated; this increases investors' confidence and promote greater liquidity. Operating in the dynamic Islamic banking and finance industry, the experience of Kuwait Finance House (KFH) in its first operation in the Asia Pacific region has been very exciting. 'We are grateful to the Malaysian Government for its decision to open up the country's Islamic banking industry to three qualified foreign-owned Islamic banks in 2004, as recommended under its Financial Sector Master Plan. Beginning from May 8 2005, Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Berhad was licensed to operate as a full-fledged Islamic bank in Malaysia, stated Al-Ghanim.' 'KFH's decision for choosing Malaysia was partly reinforced by the possibility that we are able to work our business objectives alongside the government's aspirations. KFHMB is also the only foreign Islamic bank licensed by the Securities Commission Malaysia to be accorded a Dealer's licence. Therefore, apart from commercial, retail & consumer banking, we are able to conduct corporate & investment banking which includes undertaking fund management, investment, advisory and securities services.' 'We have also been encouraged by the interest shown towards Islamic banking. The Malaysian Central Bank encourages product innovation in the banking and finance industry.' 'Our operation and experience in Malaysia have enabled us to understand not just Malaysia but also the Asia Pacific region. Malaysia has certainly become a platform for us to expand into Singapore where we have purchased properties in Keppel Land's Reflections and Guocoland's Goodwood Residence. We have also arranged facilities for companies in India and China. There are also opportunities for us to consider in Australia, China, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia.' 'Our milestone transactions in Malaysia include the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, the latest icon in the real estate and retail landscape. A more recent deal is collaborating with two other corporations from the Middle East in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR), an integrated international city development in the southern part of Malaysia. This investment represents the single largest foreign real estate development in Malaysia, one of the largest real estate developments in the region and one of the largest single foreign investments ever in Malaysia. KFHMB will invest approximately $330m for the Cultural Cluster comprising the Logistics Village, Creative Park and Heritage District, of over approximately 620 acres. I am grateful that the Malaysian government and Kuwait supported and collaborated to found KFHMB.' 'I would also like to express our gracious thanks to The Honourable Dato' Seri Rafidah Aziz, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia, and MATRADE for taking the initiative to organise this trade mission, and to His Excellency Fallah Fahad Al-Hajri, Minister of Economy and Commerce Kuwait and His Excellency Ali Thunayan Al-Ghanim, Chairman of the Seminar for their presence here this morning.'
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