International Islamic Banks Turn Toward Pakistan

Several financial institutions from the GCC and South East Asia have announced they were moving into Pakistan to set up banks or insurance companies by teaming up with local entities or by going it alone. The likes of Al Baraka, Habib bank, Oman International Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank and most recently Maybank, have entered the country. Maybank said it was preparing to pay around $930 million to acquire a 20 per cent stake in Pakistan’s MCB Bank.

In the summer of 2007, Qatar Islamic Bank, the fifth largest Islamic bank in the world and the largest Islamic bank in Qatar, said it was planning to launch an Islamic bank in Pakistan with paid up capital of $100 million. Ahmad Barghout, senior manager of the corporate investment and developments group at Qatar Islamic Bank speaking to CPI Financial said, “Both Pakistani and GCC companies are opportunity driven. There are opportunities in both areas and I think investors are taking the long term view.”

While the current economic and political instability in Pakistan is causing concern in some circles, Mansoor Khan, managing director of Lahore-based law firm Khan Associates told CPI Financial that conventional banks would probably be more affected by the turmoil than their Islamic counterparts. “The conventional banks are western, risk-averse and do not understand ‘Pakistan risk.’ Islamic banks are primarily Middle Eastern or Asian and have a better understanding of the mentality of Pakistan. They will not be put off,” he said.

Source : Pakistan First

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