Alpen Capital gets ok for Islamic services in Oman

Firm is first to offer Sharia-compliant advisory services in the Gulf sultanate
Alpen Capital gets ok for Islamic services in Oman
The Islamic finance sector is estimated to be $1 trillion in size and growing at 15-20 percent a year
By Reuters
Tue 16 Aug 2011 04:10 PM

Investment bank Alpen Capital has gotten approval to become the first firm to offer Islamic advisory services in Oman, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday, as the sultanate seeks to boost Islamic finance.

Alpen, which is affiliated with Swiss private bank Sarasin , will help clients in Oman structure Islamic finance deals as well as advise on mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity deals and capital markets.

"We believe it's a very large market," said Rohit Walia, executive vice chairman and chief executive of Alpen Capital Group. "From the people we talk to, if we can give them sharia-compliant options identical to non-sharia compliant advisory, there is definite interest."

Oman opened the door to Islamic banking in May, allowing conventional lenders to run sharia-compliant operations. Bank Nizwa is set to be the Gulf Arab state's first standalone Islamic bank.

Walia said Alpen, which began operating in Oman in 2008, got the approval from Oman's Capital Market's Authority last week and plans to formally launch the initiative in September.

There are no immediate plans to add to staff in its Oman operation but will support Islamic finance clients from its other offices throughout the region. In the Gulf, Alpen has offices in Dubai, Doha, Manama and Muscat.

The Islamic finance sector is estimated to be $1 trillion in size and growing at 15-20 percent a year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates.

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