Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Faisal Private Bank to use KL office as regional hub

By Ishun P Ahmad

GENEVA-based Faisal Private Bank (Switzerland) SA, currently the only Swiss Islamic private bank, is on track to set up its first overseas representative office in Malaysia.

The bank has obtained the approval from the Swiss Federal Banking Commission, paving the way for the formation of the office as early as next month.

"We obtained the approval from the Swiss Federal Banking Commission last week for the establishment of a representative office in Kuala Lumpur and are now in the process of submitting our application to Bank Negara Malaysia. The approval is expected by next month," said Fadhil Mansor who is slated to head the Malaysian office.

"We have passed the first hurdle for the representative office that is obtaining the Swiss Federal Banking Commission approval. The authorities there have been studying our business plan for the office for the past two months and have given us a letter of support for the representative office.

"Now we will wait to clear the second and final hurdle, i.e. the approval from Bank Negara Malaysia" added Fadhil. According to him, the bank has identified the place for the representative office to be located in the KL Golden Triangle.

He said the representative office would be used as a hub for the Asia Pacific region, namely markets in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and India. The bank will use Malaysia as a centre to get clients in the region and is looking at a target of achieving assets under management of about US$100 million (RM312.4 million) for the region by the end of 2008.

On what will be the investment stance of the bank in the wake of the current global volatile financial markets, Fadhil said the bank will continue to practice its conservative approach to investments in accordance with Islamic Syariah principles. "Of course we will be prudent in managing our clients' wealth in accordance with syariah principles. It will also depend on their risk appetite," said Fadhil.

He said the bank will continue to seriously look into real estate investments, where it has a good 20-year track record, irregardless of the current US sub-prime mortgage problems. "We have been managing the risk quite effectively and have been showing good returns for our clients. We are also investing in other alternative investments, like renewal energy as a shift from the usual other investments asset classes," he said.

Faisal Private Bank CEO, Marco Rochat was in town over the weekend, to lend support to GP2 race driver, Romain Grosjean, who continues to lead the championship with 11 points, ahead of Petrov and behind Kamui Kobayashi.

Grosjean came be second after Kobayashi in the Sepang GP2 race yesterday morning. Faisal Private Bank is the principal sponsor for Grosjean of the Art Grand Prix team. (The Malaysian Reserve, March 24, 2008)

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