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Mon 28 May 2007 01:06 AM

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Bahrain Islamic Bank eyes Gulf expansion

BIB says expansion plans will start in Qatar as it applies for licences across the Gulf Arab region.

Bahrain Islamic Bank has applied to all Gulf Arab central banks to apply to for a licence as part of its plan to expand across the region, the lender's acting chief executive said on Sunday.

Mohammed Ebrahim Mohammed said BIB expected to receive feedback on its licence applications by the end of June, and that in his opinion, Qatar was the most suitable place to start expanding BIB's operations.

"A letter has been sent by the chairman to all the (Gulf) central banks for a licence...I personally think the place to start is Qatar. There's good growth there and it's just starting," Mohammed told reporters.

Mohammed was referring to the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Last month, the firm said it would raise 85.02 million Bahraini dinars ($225.5 million) by selling stock to shareholders to fund expansion, and that it was considering listing on other Gulf bourses.

Mohammed said the bank was also considering raising money for expansion by selling Islamic bonds, or sukuk, but it was too early to outline any details.

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