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Darahim targets Sharia investors

MANAMA: Darahim Capital is looking to set up a series of Sharia-compliant mutual funds from its headquarters in Bahrain early next year.

The company, which has applied for a licence from the Central Bank of Bahrain, hopes to be up and running by March and set up 10 to 12 funds which will have an aim of building assets under management of around $3.4 billion.

The company, which announced its plans at the forum yesterday, is backed by Geneva-based Encore management and some major international investors.

"We plan to create a whole range of Islamic mutual funds covering a wide range of asset classes ranging from cash and equities to real estate, sukuk, alternative investments and leasing," said chief executive officer Mark Mortimore.

"It will be a fund management operations with business to business distribution through banks and other institutions across the GCC and also in Switzerland where there is a lot of Arab money on deposit that is looking for a Sharia- compliant investment alternative.

"The funds will be designed under modern portfolio theory across a balanced and diversified portfolio both in terms of geography and asset class which will allow Islamic investors replicate a range of choice not previously available outside traditional investments within Sharia-compliant parameters.

"These funds will be completely Sharia-compliant as agreed with independent Sharia scholars.

"The operation will cover the whole of the GCC but will be based in Bahrain because of the superior regulatory environment here," he said.

"We looked at the possibility of running the fund from Dubai but the regulatory strength of Bahrain convinced us this was the place to come.

"Dubai offers an offshore environment while Bahrain is onshore but as we are specific to the GCC there was no real advantage on being offshore.

"We have been generating a lot of interest in this venture at Fund Forum Middle East 2008 which has been an excellent event to meet and network with leading fund managers and investors from across the region and further a field," he said.



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