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Fri 9 Mar 2012 12:40 PM

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Bahrain's financial sector sees new blood in 2011

Economic Development Board says number of financial institutes grow to 415 despite unrest

Bahrain's financial sector sees new blood in 2011
Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, chief executive officer of the Bahrain Economic Development Board.

The number of financial institutions registered in Bahrain continued to rise last year despite the impact of the uprisings, a senior official has said.

The number of finance-related companies reached 415 by the end of January 2012, up from 403 a year earlier.

Among the financial firms that registered in Bahrain during the course of 2011 were Canara Bank, AMP Capital Investors and Deloitte Corporate Finance, a statement said.

The figures come a month after BNP Paribas said it will continue operations in Bahrain to quell speculation that the bank may quit Bahrain after the Gulf nation witnessed political unrest.

BNP Paribas, which has its regional headquarters in Bahrain, last year set up backup operations in Dubai as part of its policy to establish these centres worldwide.

Societe Generale said in February it will move its private banking office in Bahrain to the UAE as the French lender seeks to cut costs.

The financial services industry in Bahrain employed more than 14,000 people at the end of 2010, of which two thirds were Bahrainis.

According to the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the financial sector in Bahrain continued to grow in the first half of 2011, expanding by 1.7 percent in the twelve months to June 2011.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, chief executive of the EDB, said, "We are very pleased by the strong performance of the financial sector over the last year.

"That these businesses are choosing Bahrain as their base for accessing the Gulf economies and the wider Middle East is testament to the strength of the local Bahraini workforce, the quality of the Central Bank of Bahrain's regulation and the access we provide to the strong-growing Gulf market which is now worth over a trillion dollars."

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