Arabesque latest addition to London Islamic finance sector

The Islamic asset manager, a former Barclays Bank off-shoot, seeks to build crossover appeal btwn Islamic and non-Islamic investors

Asset management firm Arabesque has received regulatory approval to start operations with its value-based investment strategies, which also combine religious and ethical principles - the latest addition to Britain's Islamic finance sector.

The London-headquartered firm now has in place a team of 18 staff, with additional offices in Frankfurt and New York, chief executive Omar Selim told Reuters.

Arabesque developed its value-based concept, which buys shares deemed to be trading at a discount to their fundamental worth, as part of Barclays Bank, but Arabesque is now an independent and privately-held firm.

Arabesque is backed by an advisory board of ethical industry professionals, a rare feature among Islamic asset managers, as it seeks to build crossover appeal among both investor segments.

Britain has six full-fledged Islamic banks and over 20 institutions in the country that offer sharia-compliant financial services, a sector being buoyed by Britain's plans to issue a sovereign Islamic bond this month.

The firm is backed by capital from its own management, which bought the business from Barclays, and has commitments from several institutional investors, Selim said, declining to provide further details.

The team includes several former Barclay's executives and has now added Anja Mikus as chief investment officer, who previously held that position at Union Investment, the investment arm of DZ Bank Group.

The firm plans to establish funds in Luxembourg and will offer managed accounts as well.

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