The International Investor (TII), an Islamic finance company based in Kuwait, is setting up an Islamic asset management firm with Swiss private bank Pictet & Cie. The new firm is due to start operations within the next few weeks, TII’s chairman Adnan al-Bahar says.

‘We’re setting up a joint venture which would offer international private banking to the Islamic world out of Geneva,’ Al-Bahar says. The new company is likely to be a 50:50 joint venture between TII and Pictet & Cie, which is one of the largest and oldest of Switzerland’s private banks. Al-Bahar does not disclose how much TII is investing in the venture, but says it is a relatively small amount. The aim of the new company is to attract some of the billions of dollars of foreign assets held by Muslim private investors, including some of the funds now conventionally invested through Swiss private banks.

Pictet & Cie will provide banking, marketing and management services to the new venture, while TII will provide its own investment products and expertise in return for a share of the profits. ‘Our philosophy is that we continue to be a wholesale player. Basically, it’s like a strategic alliance except that this time we are taking equity in the new vehicle,’ says Al-Bahar. TII has already worked with Swiss Bank Corporation on the creation of Islamic

equity funds: it also manages Islamic investments for conventional banks. Al-Bahar says TII is currently talking to several Western and Arab banks about building up their Islamic banking services (MEED 6:12:96).