Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bahrain’s Albaraka mulls Indonesian expansion

By Habhajan Singh
Bahrain-based Albaraka Banking Group (ABG) is planning to expand into Indonesia, the nation with the world's largest Muslim population. This was one of the issues discussed at the two-day sixth annual strategic meeting in the Bahraini capital of Manama, which ended Nov 6, according to a statement.
In June, when the group inaugurated its Indonesia representative office in Jakarta, ABG announced plans to expand its investments and operations in Islamic markets in the South-East Asian region, particularly the Indonesian market.
Its president and chief executive Adnan Ahmed Yousif said that the group had accomplished a st rategic achievement during the last few months when it commissioned its new information technology (IT) system, which will link the group with all the affiliate units and integrate all their information databases.
On Nov 4, AlBaraka Islamic Bank announced that it has selected the Misys Equation and Misys Trade Innovation for implementation across its 20 branches in Pakistan. The new contract builds on a number of previous contracts with ABG and Misys across Africa and the Middle East.
In a separate statement released from London, AlBaraka Islamic Bank's country head for Pakistan Shafqaat Ahmed said the new system would help in its growth strategy, which involved conversion of its Pakistan operations into an Islamic Bank registered in Pakistan, resulting in a significant enhancment os its branch network and customer outreach.
On the strategic meeting, Adnan said some "highly important topics" were discussed including plans for expanding the group's office in Indonesia and Albaraka Bank Syria (under formation), the new identity of the group and affiliated units, development of the IT systems in the group and affiliated units, development of risk policies and procedures in the group and affiliated units and the progress made to date on the implementation of the requirements of Basel II.
Adnan said the ultimate goal is to make ABG a leading and strong regional and international banking group. ABG, a Bahrain joint stock company listed on Bahrain and Dubai stock exchanges, offers retail, corporate and investment banking and treasury services strictly in accordance with the principles of Shariah.
Its authorised capital of ABG is US$1.5 billion (RM5.31 billion) while total equity amounts to about US$1.59 billion. The group has a wide geographical presence in the form of subsidiary banking units and representative offices in twelve countries, which in turn provide their services through more than 250 branches.
These banking units are Jordan Islamic Bank, Jordan; Al Baraka Islamic Bank, Bahrain; Al Baraka Islamic Bank, Pakistan; Banque Al Baraka D'Algerie, Algeria; Al Baraka Bank Sudan, Sudan; Al Baraka Bank, South Africa; Al Baraka Bank Lebanon, Lebanon; Bank Et-tamweel Al Tunisi Al Saudi, Tunisia; the Egyptian Saudi Finance Bank, Egypt; Al Baraka Turk Participation Bank, Turkey and Al Baraka Bank Syria (under formation) in addition to a representative office in Indonesia. (By Habhajan Singh, The Malaysian Reserve, Nov 11, 2008, Page 31)

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