Qatar Islamic Bank is
hunting for acquisition targets in Indonesia to strengthen its
presence in Asia and tap demand for sharia banking products in
the world's most populous Muslim nation, the head of its
Malaysian unit said on Wednesday.
Qatar Islamic is studying several potential
candidates in Indonesia that have been identified by Asian
Finance Bank, which is 62 percent-owned by the Gulf lender.
"In Indonesia, the competition is robust so we need
something which is ready-made for us to kickstart
immediately," Asian Finance chief executive Mohamed Azahari
"We need to have a partner that has both a corporate and
retail base that we can capitalise on."
Azahari said "nothing concrete has transpired" in the
acquisition plans and formal talks had yet to begin but
declined to elaborate on the possible targets.
"We're talking about Asia as a whole because we believe
there is a lot of potential for Islamic finance even to grow
in South Korea," he said. "The Indonesian operations, if it
materialises, will provide a very good presence within the
Indonesia, where about 85 percent of the population are
Muslim, is seen as the next major growth centre for Islamic
finance as traditional markets such as Gulf states and
Malaysia reach saturation point. Indonesia has 11 Islamic banks.
Indonesia expects its sharia banking assets to reach 130
trillion rupiah by the end of 2011, from an estimated 90-92
trillion rupiah in 2010, according to the central bank. They
grew by an average 33 percent in the last five years.
The Southeast Asian country is overhauling its regulatory
framework to accelerate demand for Islamic products but some
bankers say it could take years for the changes to bear fruit.
RUSD Investment Bank owns a fifth of Asian Finance Bank,
Financial Assets Bahrain has 8 percent and Tadhamon
International Islamic Bank 10 percent.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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