Qatar Islamic Bank awaits approval to open London office

24 November 2007
QIB, formally known as Qatar Islamic Bank, is expecting to receive approval from the UK banking regulator within weeks, allowing it to establish a presence in Europe for the first time.

It has already begun talks with a major UK airline to use Islamic financing to buy aircraft. It is also hoping to advise London on the issue of a UK sovereign sukuk.

The UK office will be called European Finance House, and will be used to place Islamic finance debt from the Middle East and Asia into Europe, as well as advising European firms on Islamic finance products.

The bank has already used Islamic financing with Qatar Airways for the purchase of an aircraft.

The $100m deal, which was signed in March, is the bank's first aircraft finance deal and involves the purchase of an Airbus A340-600.

The latest talks with a UK airline are part of the bank's preliminary work with clients ahead of receiving a UK banking licence.

Although European Finance House will initially be capitalised with only $25m and have authorised capital of $50m, support from the wider QIB group means it will have access to a capital base of $2bn.

Eventually, the aim is for the London-based bank to float on the London Stock Exchange. The licence from the UK's banking regulator, the Financial Services Authority, will also allow it to expand into Europe, with offices planned for both France and Germany.

The bank has also had preliminary meetings with the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, to set up an Islamic bank there.

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