Al Baraka Banking Group’s CEO, Adnan Ahmed Yousif, revealed plans to launch an Islamic bank in France, adding that the group has submitted its financial requirements and accounting standards to the French authorities.
In an interview with CNBC Arabiya in Dubai, Yousif explained that the French financial authorities have demonstrated major interest in having Islamic banking products enter its market, in light of the five million Muslims currently residing in France.
Speaking on the Group’s performance, Yousif noted that Q1 2009 has recorded positive growth of 4% in budget, in addition to an increase in number of branches, businesses, credit and securities issuance.
Yousif also added that the number of the Group’s offices will increase in 2009 from 280 at present, reaching 330 by the end of the year, and human capital will increase by 800 employees.
On the economic downturn’s effects on the Group’s operations, Yousif said that there were initial concerns about investing in certain markets and that these concerns have now been eradicated, especially in markets like Turkey, Algeria, Egypt and Jordan, which performed very well.
Al Baraka Banking Group has begun introducing new products in the Turkish market including finance leasing, forward sale and manufacturing contracts (Salam and Istisna) and rent-to-own schemes. Demand on Islamic financial products has increased, especially in emerging markets and in some European markets.
Speaking on the Mega Bank project, Adnan Yousif said that the new bank will coordinate payments between Arab and Islamic banks and financial institutions.
Yousif concluded that several financial entities and investors from the private sector have shown great interest in getting involved in the Mega Bank. He highlighted that the Mega Bank could be launched by the end of 2009 and will not be a competitor to the Islamic banks and will not focus on retail banking or the local markets, adding that its main purpose will be to secure liquidity, issuance of bonds, and proposing, financing and managing projects.