Switzerland's Sarasin on Thursday became one of the first foreign private banks to launch an Islamic product in an effort to meet with the rising global demand for shariah-compliant financial products.
The Swiss private bank said it plans to offer estate and succession planning, financing and asset management with money market and structured products known as Wakala, Murabaha and Maraya.
Islamic banking is one of the world's fastest growing financial sectors, rising 15-20 percent a year, according to industry estimates.
"There is a strong Islamic demand out of places such as Indonesia and Malaysia... we are targeting the broader opportunities that Islamic finance presents... but needless to say the largest markets are Saudi, UAE and Kuwait," Fidelis Goetz, head of private banking for Sarasin and member of the bank's executive committee, told Reuters in a phone interview.
The Islamic finance business could make a "double digit contribution" to Sarasin's bottom-line in the next 24 to 36 months, Goetz said. "This is a first comer opportunity that we will be capitalising on," Goetz said.
Sarasin Group is active in the Middle East through its Sarasin-Alpen subsidiary with offices in Dubai, Qatar and Oman. The private bank could consider opening further offices in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, Goetz said.
Worldwide Sarasin has around 52 billion euros ($77.98 billion) in assets under management. The bank does not provide a geographical breakdown. Its major shareholder with a 46 percent stake is Rabobank of the Netherlands. (Reuters)