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Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Islamic Bank of Asia taps into GCC’s double digit growth

(Albawaba, 8 Apr 08)

The Islamic Bank of Asia (IB Asia) is poised to capitalize on the predicted double digit growth in the GCC’s Islamic banking sector. It will officially launch its first office at the Bahrain Financial Harbour in May to develop IB Asia’s wholesale, commercial and investment banking businesses and strengthen relationships with clients and investors in the GCC.
The bank was established in 2007 as a joint venture between DBS, one of the largest financial services groups in Asia, and 34 investors from prominent families and industrial groups based in the GCC, a unique parentage that affords IB Asia enhanced visibility and intellectual insight across the two leading global Islamic banking hubs.
IB Asia’s strength and expertise are further bolstered by its Shariah Board and its Board of Directors. The former consists of four of the world’s most prominent Islamic scholars – Shaikh Dr. Mohamed Ali Elgari, Dr. Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah and Dr. Mohd Daud Bakar – and is chaired by Shaikh Nizam Yaqouby, based in Bahrain. The latter is chaired by His Excellency Abdulla Hasan Saif, advisor on economic affairs to His Highness the Prime Minister of Bahrain, and includes prominent bankers such as Mr. Khalid Abdulla Al-Bassam, Chairman of the Bahrain Islamic Bank.
In less than a year, IB Asia – regarded within Asia as the spearhead of Singapore’s nascent Islamic banking sector – has focused on cross-border transactions securing a range of significant business with a series of prominent GCC companies, including three Kuwait-based companies – the International Leasing & Investment Company, the National Industries Group and the AREF Investment Group – and Barwa Real Estate Company based in Qatar.
Mr. Vince Cook, Chief Executive Officer of IB Asia, said that the bank’s unique shareholding structure offers refreshing insights and expertise that will help clients maximize opportunities in the twin financial hubs of the GCC and Asia. “Establishing a presence in the GCC has always been a priority because it allows us to stay abreast of the latest developments in the Middle-eastern Islamic financial industry so that we can better serve our clients.
“Furthermore, as a bank based in Asia, we serve as a gateway for GCC-based investors looking to invest in the region. Our office in Bahrain will augment our ability to help such GCC clients realize Asia’s opportunities,” he said.
Mr. Cook said: “The Islamic finance industry is experiencing phenomenal growth driven by a fast-emerging awareness of Shariah-compliant instruments, the philosophy that underpins them and their strong returns for investors. Against this backdrop, IB Asia is poised to grow its business by focusing our efforts in the key hubs of Asia and the GCC.”
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