Malaysia’s Maybank in talks to launch sharia-compliant operations in Dubai

Malaysia’s largest lender is in advanced talks with the UAE’s financial regulator to open offices in Dubai, according to a report in the Abu Dhabi-based The National newspaper today.

The Islamic-focused arm of Maybank is understood to have identified strong and growing demand for sukuk and other sharia-compliant financing across the GCC, and views Dubai as an attractive regional base for its expansion plans.

According to The National, the sharia-compliant arm of Maybank plans to launch wholesale banking operations in the UAE from next year.

Speaking to The National yesterday, Maybank Islamic’s CEO, Mohamed Rafique Merican, explained the logic of the plan: “We have a strong footprint in Asia and want to link that with our contemporaries in the GCC in terms of financing infrastructure, looking for a home for funds to invest in and supporting the halal trade. We need to make that linkage.”

Maybank currently has $165bn of assets under management, and is Malaysia’s largest lender. Maybank Islamic is already the fifth-largest sharia-compliant bank in the world with assets of $50bn. It is the only non-GCC Islamic bank ranked in the top ten (Dubai Islamic Bank is ranked at number four).

The company began talks with the UAE’s regulators early last year and is looking to secure a licence from the Dubai Financial Services Authority by the end of this year or early 2019 to establish a regional office in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Christopher Copper-Ind
Christopher Copper-Ind is Publisher and Editor of International Investment. His previous publishing experience focused largely on the Middle East and emerging markets, and he was Editorial Director of The Business Year, based in Istanbul, for three years before moving back to London in 2017. He is the author of How to Negotiate, to be published by Macmillan in 2019.

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