New Islamic bank aims for Asia

10 January 1997

A new Bahrain-based Islamic investment bank, First Islamic Investment Bank (FIIB), will target Southeast Asia, the Gulf and the US, a senior bank official says.

FIIB was set up by the Al-Jomaih group of Saudi Arabia and Majestic Global Investments (MGI), an Islamic finance house based in Kuwait. The new bank, which currently has six executive staff, has taken over MGI and holds a 35 per cent stake in a Malaysian finance house, Commerce MGI (MEED 29:11:96).

'Our aim is to be a Western investment bank doing halal business,' says Atif Abdel-Malik, a member of FIIB's management committee. He says the bank will do corporate finance business and manage investors' assets on a fee basis. It will also buy private equity stakes in companies for its own account.

The establishment of the new bank comes on the heels of the launch of a conventional bank, First Gulf Pacific Bank, which is aiming for a similar business mix in the Asia-Pacific region and the US. Both banks reflect a desire among Gulf investors for exposure to fast-growing markets in Asia.

The Al-Jomaih group has paid $10 million into the capital of FIIB, while $5 million worth of shares have been issued to shareholders in MGI, which has now been incorporated into the new bank. A private placement in the Gulf, Malaysia and Brunei, which closes on 10 January, will bring paid- in capital to $50 million. 'We've been overwhelmed by the response and we might increase the capital,' says Abdel-Malik. He adds that the money could have been raised in the Gulf, but the bank wants to have a shareholder base in Southeast Asia as well as the Arab world.

FIIB plans to launch an Islamic global equity fund once the private placement is completed. 'Our target is to raise $70 million,' says Abdel-Malik.

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