GBCORP Islamic bank opens in Bahrain


The bank, with a paid-up capital of $ 250 million and authorised capital of $ 500 million, opened its doors for business yesterday. It will tap opportunities in the $ 500 billion global Islamic banking industry by offering an extensive portfolio of personal and corporate Islamic investment products.

Saudi-based businessmen Saleh Al Ali Rashed, who is also Chairman board of directors, told a Press conference that the bank would conclude at least three major deals in its first year while maintaining business focus on Saudi, GCC and other markets.

As the bank is poised to bridge the gap by offering specialised expertise in private equity, infrastructure development, venture capital and real estate sectors, the founding Chairman of the GBCORP board, Saleh Al Ali Rashed, said that the founding shareholding is spread across the GCC comprising of 50 leading businessmen, high net worth individuals and institutions.
The bank is also negotiating with the global institutions for forging strategic alliances in future across the MENA, Europe and Asia. GBCORP will also be offering Islamic financial products for GCC real estate and infrastructure development projects. With an overall value of on-going and planned real estate development worth $ 90 billion, the bank will participate in real estate ventures by targeting developers using special purpose financial products.

Present were Abdulrahman Al Jassimi, Managing Director and Vice Chairman, Aziz Al Bassam, Director of Licensing and Policy at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and the Chief Executive Mark Hanson.

Al Rashid said: “GBCORP’s strategy is aimed at capturing a significant share of the $ 500 billion global Islamic banking market. The bank will use the booming GCC economies as a springboard for expansion into Asia, North Africa and Europe with an innovative product portfolio designed to reach across geographic boundaries and target markets including governments, private and public sector enterprises, wealthy family groups and high net worth individuals.”

He added: “The bank would grasp global investment opportunities and address the growing demand for Islamic investment instruments both at the regional and global level. Our initial strategic focus will be to excel through our infrastructure development projects and deals. Based on the expertise we have on board, we will achieve long term profitable growth and superior return on investments for our shareholders, partners and investors.”

Abdulrahman Al Jassimi said: “GBCORP would also strongly focus on family companies and high net worth individuals with Private Equity and Asset Management products. “With $ 2.3 billion raised in private equity funds in the GCC between 2002 and 2005, GBCORP sees family owned businesses and established private companies looking for outside investors or major capital investment as a valuable source of business.”

Reaffirming GBCORP’s Islamic credentials, Al Jassimi said: “The bank’s Islamic product portfolio will have a global appeal across religious boundaries and not be limited by geographic factors. All our investments will be Shariah compliant. As an Islamic Bank, we believe GBCORP should be at the forefront in shaping the growing collaboration between Shariah compliant and other financial institutions.”

Mark Hanson, CEO of the bank, said: “As strong growth in the GCC produces record economic performance, governments are looking to invest in huge real estate and construction infrastructure projects, energy, telecoms and financial services.
 The governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar alone are spending billions of dollars in these sectors and are looking at appropriate ways of funding these projects. GBCORP will target these sectors by providing innovative ways of funding infrastructure projects.”

Hanson emphasised that whilst GBCORP’s initial business ventures will be in the GCC region, the bank’s management possess the international banking experience necessary to grow business through strategic alliances across the globe. “We see Europe (with its growing demand for Islamic banking), Asia (Hong Kong/China/Singapore/Malaysia) and the Islamic countries and emerging markets of North Africa as regions where GBCORP can have significant success” he added.

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