The Ibn Battutah Asian Growth Fund has been launched by Al Hilal, an offshore company incorporated in Labuan. The offering of shares in the fund, arranged by Banque Indosuez Bahrain Offshore Banking Unit and Carr Indosuez Asia, is only available through private placements with regional banks targeting Gulf investors. Al Hilal hopes to raise around $100 million for the fund.

This is the first equity syndication to be arranged among banks and financial institutions on a GCC-wide basis.

TAIB Bank is lead agent for Bahrain, Securities Group is lead agent in Kuwait, Commercial Bank of Oman in Oman, Commercial Bank of Qatar in Qatar, Al Bank Al Saudi Al Fransi in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank in the UAE.

The fund is designed to provide investors with an opportunity to participate in the emerging equity markets of Asian Muslim countries. These are classified as Muslim majority countries (Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh) and Muslim minority countries (Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Philippines).

The fund, named after Ibn Battutah the Arab medieval traveller, will target companies that carry on business in a way consistent with Islamic principles. The fund may also invest in GCC countries’ equity markets.

Other investment funds are also to be launched through Al Hilal which will act as an umbrella investment vehicle which will be represented by different classes of redeemable preference shares.