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Al Hilal Bank to open branches in Kazakhstan

ABU DHABI. September 3. KAZINFORM Al Hilal Bank is on track to open two branches in Kazakhstan by this year, CEO Mohammad Berro said Wednesday. The branch openings will mark the first entry of Islamic banking in the central Asian nation, following an agreement signed last March between the governments of the UAE and Kazakhstan. "We see it as an opportunity to be the first in this economy," Berro said. "We will be positioned as the first Islamic bank in the former Soviet Union states." Political and economic ties have strengthened steadily between the two sides since early 2008 with the exchange of formal state visits by their presidents and the entrance of Mubadala and International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) in the Kazakh market. The Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates the emirate's government-owned companies hold Dh15 billion in investments in Kazakhstan. In February, the Kazakh government adopted legislation regulating the establishment and operation of Islamic banks, securities and investment funds. The country's population of around 15 million has so far only received access to a sukuk issuance earlier this year, but no retail, commercial or takaful (Islamic insurance) services. Qatar Islamic has announced its intentions to expand into Kazakhstan, but only a memorandum of understanding has been signed so far. In addition to expansion in Kazakhstan, Al Hilal is opening three branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next month. Berro said the bank, wholly-owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, marked August as its first profitable month. Al Hilal's branch network has grown from four at its inception in June 2008 to nine currently. "We're starting on a monthly basis to be a profitable bank, not on a consolidated basis but on a monthly basis," Berro said. "This is a record, in my opinion, compared to any start-up bank with that growth activity", Gulf News reports. See www.gulfnews.com


Resourse: KAZINFORM







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