Sberbank, the largest commercial bank in Russia, Central and Eastern Europe is on course to open an office in Abu Dhabi by the end of this year.
Before the end of the year, Sberinvest Middle East Limited expects to obtain its final authorisation from regulator Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) that will allow it to open an office in Abu Dhabi.
Sberbank is looking to promote investment activity by implementing its clients' projects in both conventional and Islamic finance through cooperation with funds, financial institutions and other bodies in the Middle East.
We believe that Abu Dhabi is perfectly suited to meet our goals in the region"
Sberinvest Middle East is set to have an Islamic banking license, which will allow the structuring of investment products in accordance with shariah principles.
The unit also plans to engage in the trade finance of Russian exports to Middle Eastern countries, as well as promote the services of Sberbank companies in these countries, says the bank.
Andrei Ugarov has been appointed as the CEO of Sberinvest Middle East. Before joining Sberbank in April, Ugarov was a partner at PwC for seven years, focused on mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance in West Africa.
Chief Islamic finance officer of the new unit is Behnam Gurbanzada. He joined Sberbank in 2016, establishing its Islamic finance business in Russia, which he currently heads up. He previously also held Islamic banking roles at the International Bank of Azerbaijan.
"Sber Investment Middle East (SIME) is planning to use the comfortable legal environment of the Abu Dhabi Global Markets for developing Islamic financing business," Gurbanzada told local news outlet Salaam Gateway.
"We believe that Abu Dhabi is perfectly suited to meet our goals in the region."
Sber has been developing Islamic financing since 2016. To date, the bank has structured seven Shariah-compliant deals totalling $300m. Among the most notable was the trade finance deal in August of this year that involved the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group.