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GFH to set up key Islamic financial services venture

MANAMA: Gulf Finance House (GFH) intends to establish a joint Islamic financial services venture in the Middle East with Australian-based Macquarie Group.

Macquarie will invest approximately $100 million in a convertible murabaha investment in GFH as part of the deal.

The Australian bank is a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment and funds management services and is keen to have a presence in the region and North Africa and use GFH expertise to develop Sharia-compliant products.

The proposed partnership is subject to board, internal, and regulatory approvals of both companies.

It is the subject of a confidential memorandum of understanding signed by the parties in a private ceremony in Bahrain yesterday.

"The strategic partnership with Macquarie represents an exciting opportunity as we look to continue the bank's diversification into new geographies and opportunities," said GFH's new chief executive officer Ahmed Fahour.

"This announcement is an exciting step towards realising GFH's long-term objective of establishing a truly world-class Islamic investment bank.

"The strategic relationship would bring together GFH and Macquarie to create the standard in Sharia-compliant products and services for the Middle East and North Africa region."

"This is a significant development for us in that we are linking up with a Western-style investment bank, which will enable us to develop a platform and attract a broader coverage in the region while structuring existing Macqarie products into Sharia-compliant offerings," said GFH chief operating officer John Wright.

"Macquarie has been aggressive in developing a global footprint and has wanted to move into this part of the world. The fact that our new chief executive officer comes from Australia and was well known to Macquarie helped create this partnership.

"The fact that Macquarie is investing $100m in the project shows how much faith it has in GFH and it is a positive message ahead of our $300m rights issue, details of which we will be sending to shareholders in the near future."

business@gdn.com.bh



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