Gulf One Investment Bankis expected to start operations in February after obtaining a licence from the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA – central bank) in December.

The institution will target major energy and infrastructure-related projects in the GCC. ‘The focus on construction and trade has not created jobs. The most needed activity is to invest in infrastructure and energy-related projects to diversify and enhance long-term activity in the energy sector,’ the bank’s founder and chief executive officer Nahed Taher told MEED on 2 January. Most of the bank’s investments are expected to be in Saudi Arabia.

The bank signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting (GOIC) in late December to act as its financial arm. GOIC will provide feasibility studies and project information under the terms of the agreement. Gulf One is also looking to partner at least one major international financial institution by mid-2006.

‘We aim to mutually benefit from these strategic partnerships,wherewe will gain from their best practices in structuring and bringing to the table international products. Then with our talented team, we will custom tailor [these products] according tothe requirements of the investments in the region and based on Islamic principles,’ said Taher. ‘This is essential for innovation and will help regional expansion in addition to reducing the cost of funding for mega long-term projects in the GCC region.’ The bank is also considering the creation of a number of funds to draw in investment from international institutions.

The bank has a capital of $100 million from strategic investors in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It is expected to stage an initial public offering of shares in 2009 following regulatory approval.