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Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Asian Finance Bank targets more markets

KUALA LUMPUR: Asian Finance Bank Bhd (AFB), the third full-fledged foreign Islamic bank in Malaysia, will continue its aggressive expansion plans in Asia in a bid to garner a slice of the growing Islamic banking sector in the region.
Chief executive officer Faisal Alshowaikh said the bank had been in discussions with some officials in Singapore and Brunei on plans to open up representative offices there, similar to the one recently launched in Indonesia.
“Brunei is looking for syariah-compliant investments and the same can be said for Singapore where the market for Islamic banking has been growing quite rapidly over the years,'' he told StarBiz.
AFB started operation in Malaysia on Jan 19 last year when it opened its first bank branch in Kuala Lumpur, making it the third foreign Islamic bank after Kuwait Finance House (M) Bhd and Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank.
On the domestic front, Faisal said AFB would in the next two to five years increase the number of branches to between five and seven in major cities in Malaysia.
AFB, he said, was on track to launch its second branch in Johor next month and the third in the northern region before year-end.
Seventy per cent of its business comes from corporate and investment banking, and the balance from retail operations.
The bank would be launching Malaysia's first RM1bil Islamic Marine Fund next month and hopes to list it on Bursa Malaysia in the next two years.
The fund would invest in marine business and about 70% would be invested in fixed-income instruments and 30% in equities.
It recently also moved into consumer banking with the launch of two maiden consumer financing products, Home Financing-i and Personal Financing-i.
The former may be used to buy a new house, or refinance an existing home loan, or for other investment purposes.
The latter offers up to RM150,000 in financing or a minimum RM12,500 with a maximum tenure of up to five years.

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