Sunday, August 2, 2009

Australia's Fahour moves to Islamic banking

Former National Australia Bank executive Ahmed Fahour will join Middle Eastern Islamic investment bank Gulf Finance House as its chief executive, after his chance to run Rudd Bank was squashed in the Senate, reports The Australian.
Fahour, who ran NAB's Australian operations until he was overlooked for the chief executive's post last year, will move with his family to GFH's headquarters in Bahrain, starting in the new job on August 1. He has been searching for a new role since the Coalition and the Greens used their numbers in the Senate to vote down the Australian Business Investment Partnership, the report said.
The partnership, which was instantly dubbed Rudd Bank, was designed to fund commercial property projects jeopardised by the withdrawal of foreign lenders from the Australian market. Fahour resigned from NAB in February when he was appointed by Wayne Swan to run the partnership, which would have drawn A$4 billion from the big four banks and billions more from government. NAB chief executive Cameron Clyne effectively pushed Fahour out of the bank by taking his job himself, the report added.
The report described the Lebanese-born Fahour as one of Australia's most prominent Muslim business leaders. It said his appointment to GFH comes amid growing interest in Australia in capturing part of the US$700 billion Islamic finance market, adding that assistant treasurer Nick Sherry had launched a new masters course in Islamic banking and finance last week at La Trobe University, in Melbourne.
GFH was founded 10 years ago specialising in a spectrum of financial products, including private equity, venture capital and asset management. Listed on the London, Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai stock exchanges, it has a market capitalisation of US$710 billion and is known in some circles as the Macquarie Bank of the Middle East, it added.
In a statement in February, NAB announced that Fahour, then its executive director, had announced that he will step down from its principal board and group executive committee.
It noted that Fahour joined the NAB in September 2004 as Chief Executive Officer Australia and soon after become an executive member of the board.
He was responsible for managing the NAB’s Australian and Asian region which included retail, business and corporate banking.

(This story appeared in The Malaysian Reserve on July 27, 2009. The Malaysian Reserve is a daily business/finance newspaper published out of Kuala Lumpur, with a sectoral page on Islamic finance on Mondays, edited by Habhajan Singh)

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