Sunday, August 3, 2008

Azahari goes to Asian Finance Bank?

By Habhajan Singh
Investment banker Datuk Mohamed Azahari Kamil is set to helm the Asian Finance Bank (AFB), a fully-fledged Islamic bank set-up by a foreign consortium in Malaysia, according to sources.
It is understood that the Islamic financial house, a unit of Qatar Islamic Bank SAQ (QIBK), has submitted Azahari's name to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) for approval.
Azahari was just recently apointed as the managing director and chief executive officer of AmanahRaya Investment Bank Ltd Labuan (ARIBL). Before the appointment on June 2, he was CEO/MD of AmanahRaya-JMF Asset Management (ARJMF), of which he is still a non-executive director. Its parent, Amanah Raya Bhd (ARB), is Malaysia's premier trustee company owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc).
The process to get regulatory approval began recently and could take up to three months, based on past approval processes overseen by the central bank. BNM supervises the banking industry, including the Islamic finance outfits. If cleared, it is understood that Azahari would take over as AFB's chief executive officer, a position recently vacated by Faisal Alshowaikh.
It is understood that Faisal, who was appointed the bank's CEO in July 2006, is joining an outfit in the Middle East.
"It would be a new venture for Azahari. His contacts and connections in the Middle East, which he has built over the years, will come in handy," said one banker, who had heard market rumours of Azahari's impending move to AFB.
Azahari should be somewhat familiar with AFB as ARIBL has been working with the bank since last year to set up the first Shariah-compliant shipping fund in Malaysia worth RM1 billion.
AFB is backed by a consortium of leading Middle Eastern financial institutions comprising Qatar Islamic Bank (70%), RUSD Investment Bank Inc of Saudi Arabia (20%) and Global Investment House of Kuwait (10%). It has an authorised capital of RM1 billion while its current paid-up capital is RM355 million.
The Islamic bank plans, in the long run, to offer a complete suite of Syariah-compliant products covering consumer, commercial (including small- and medium-enterprises and trade finance), corporate, treasury and investment banking. AFB is the third foreign Islamic Bank to start local operations after Saudi Arabiabased Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp (Malaysia) Bhd and Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Bhd.
With Faisal's absence, AFB chief operating officer Daud Vicary Abdullah is currently its acting CEO. Other key players in its management team are Ismail Aminuddin who heads its domestic banking, Balasubramaniam Veloosamy (internal audit), Azidy Daud (treasury) and Norazilla Md Tahir (finance).
Azahari is a chartered accountant by training with more than four decades experience in accounting and management consulting. He received his banking diploma from Institut Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in 1980 and subsequently obtained his BBA (Finance) from the Western Michigan University in 1982.
He then went on to secure his MBA (Finance) from the Central Michigan University in the US in 1984. Before joining JMF Asset Management Sdn Bhd in 1994, he had stints with PB Securities Sdn Bhd, Kimara Equities Sdn Bhd and Island and Peninsular Bhd.
He started his career with the Malaysian French Bank in 1984 as a credit and marketing officer after which he joined the Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd in 1985 as a project officer.
(The Malaysian Reserve, Aug 4, 2008, p32)

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