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Thursday, 6 March 2008

KFH's emerging as top Islamic bank in West, East


KUWAIT, March 5: The General Manager of Kuwait Finance House (KFH) Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Omar stated that the policy of global expansion that KFH has followed in Turkey, Bahrain, Malaysia and Jordan stems from KFH's global mission to develop individuals and the society. Its aim is to contribute in development, noting that KFH's worldwide branches that exceed 150 branches play a vital role, and has a clear strategy in encouraging cooperation and developing commercial and economic relations among countries and different cultures. Al-Omar stressed in an interview aired on television by CNBC Europe that the success that KFH has reached was based on its commitment to Shariah, which assisted the bank in applying Shariah compliant tools in economic deals in general. He added that this success was a definite answer to all who doubted the success of Islamic banks, which have become the centre of attention of major global banks like Citi Bank and HSBC.

Regarding the Islamic windows in traditional banks, Al-Omar said during his interview with the channel, which is viewed by 300 million people, that these windows are considered positive, and ensures the honesty and reality of our work method. He stressed that these windows should make Shariah guidelines its path and an indicator that evaluates their business, and that their clients are responsible for monitoring their performance, to make sure they abide to Shariah.In his answer to a question regarding how successful Islamic banking is in the West, Al-Omar said that he sees broad horizons and a bright future that still awaits the Islamic banking in Europe, The States, and many other countries.He added that the Islamic economy is being taught now in the most prestigious western universities that offer academic grades, and that he himself has participated in conventions and lectures in European and American universities, to explain Islamic banking and how it can be applied.

He mentioned that there are many fields and projects that KFH has participated in with strategic allies from major global banks like Deutsche Bank, Citi Bank, HSBC, Calyon and others. KFH does not work alone.Moreover, KFH has executed several deals in Europe, like financing Saxony State, German Enhalt, by issuing sukuk and acquiring post offices in Sweden with a private portfolio that was sold later; and creating funds in Britain and other countries, in addition to other investments in The States.He stressed that the progress that KFH has accomplished by winning 'The Best Bank' Award for 2007 by The Banker, after it managed to innovate Shariah compliant investment tools during its past 30 years. This shows that KFH's clients entrust their bank since it was founded up to this day, which makes innovation and service quality of paramount importance.Al-Omar added that one of the names given to KFH is 'Harvard of Islamic Banks', since it is a school in Islamic banking industry. This is because innovation and creativity were pillars for KFH's success, where it offered an integrated bouquet of services and products that meet the requirements of individuals and corporate. Another reason is that many Islamic bank and corporate leaders had been working in KFH before they contributed or established other Islamic corporate.Regarding the development projects that KFH has accomplished, Al-Omar mentioned that there are many major projects that KFH has contributed in financing. Among these projects, Durrat Al-Bahrain, which is rendered one of the most prominent feature of development in Bahrain, in addition to financing Equate in collaboration with global traditional banks. This was the first project done in conjunction between Islamic and traditional banks.Al-Omar explained the importance of sukuk as a Shariah compliant alternative to bonds. It also provides liquid money by liquefying an existing asset, thus making it a safe financing source for financing governmental and corporate projects and their future expansions.

Referring to KFH's role in sukuk, Al-Omar stated that KFH contributed in issuing and running more than $4 billions in sukuk for governments and corporate in the Middle East and the world, in addition to recently founding a sukuk corporate with a $500 millions in capital, aiming to create a secondary market for sukuk trading, which will give the product a boost and increase their ability to be liquefied. --(ArabTimes)

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