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Mon 12 Dec 2011 09:12 AM

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StanChart looks to Oman, Nigeria for Islamic banking

Lender is in talks with countries to beef up sharia-compliant offerings, says senior exec

StanChart looks to Oman, Nigeria for Islamic banking
The lender sees Islamic assets comprising 20% of the UAEs banking sector in 2012

Standard Chartered is in discussions with regulators to
offer Islamic banking services in Oman and Nigeria, now that both countries are
revamping their regulatory environments to encourage Islamic finance, the
bank's global head of Islamic banking said.

Wasim Saifi said the company, which already has a strong
conventional presence in both markets, was waiting for the countries to
finalise their regulatory frameworks for Islamic banking but could offer the
services in Oman and Nigeria as early as next year.

"We are definitely evaluating the possibility of
offering Islamic banking in Oman and Nigeria," Saifi told reporters.
"The opportunity is tremendous. We are in discussions with

Oman said in May that it would open the door to Islamic
and let conventional lenders run sharia-compliant operations in a bid
to keep investment funds in the Gulf state. The central bank has given banking
licences to two new banks under formation.

Nigeria's central bank has been pushing to boost Islamic
banking in West Africa's largest economy. The central bank has approved the
creation of the country's first Islamic bank, Jaiz Bank, and Nigeria will seek
to launch a debut sovereign sukuk in the next year.

Saifi said that as Islamic banking was growing in
sophistication, the gap between conventional and Islamic finance was narrowing
and the industry would take more market share from the traditional banking

Standard Chartered Saadiq, the Islamic arm of the bank,
expects Islamic banking assets within the UAE alone to grow to
20 percent of the total sector in 2012 from an estimated 18 percent this year.

Saifi said the company was looking also to increase its
offerings in Islamic wealth management, which lags the conventional industry.

"We are working closely with our external vendors on
the Islamic side to make sure our offerings are beefed up there."

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