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Friday, 27 March 2009

Malaysian Islamic bank eyes $500 mln deals in 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 (Reuters) - Unicorn International Islamic Bank Malaysia expects to do $400-500 million of transactions this year, with a strong market projected for medium-sized deals, the lender said on Thursday.

The bank, a subsidiary of Bahrain's Unicorn Investment Bank, is working on two financing deals each worth under $50 million, its chief executive Khalid Bhaimia said.

Unicorn Malaysia has a licence to do non-ringgit Islamic deals.

"We are very much focusing on some of the medium-sized issues, it could be a sukuk issue or cross-border transaction, which are not large but a $50-$100 million type of transaction," Unicorn Malaysia chairman Vaseehar Hassan Abdul Razack told reporters.

"There's plenty of demand for these kind of transactions from small- and medium-sized corporations."

Like conventional lenders, Islamic banks are bracing for a tough year ahead as a sharp global economic downturn hits corporate and consumer spending.

Falling property prices in the Gulf are expected to depress the Islamic financial industry.

Dubai Islamic Bank DISB.DU made a net loss of about 3.5 million dirhams ($952,900) in the fourth quarter, compared with a net profit of 605 million dirhams a year earlier, according to Reuters calculations.

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