World’s Best Islamic Financial Institutions 2012: Country Awards

By Anita Hawser


Banque Al Baraka D’Algérie

Saudi-owned, Bahrain-based banking group Al Baraka first ventured into this North African country in the early 1990s. Being the first to offer Islamic banking in the country carries with it a certain responsibility, and although Islamic finance accounts for only an estimated 1% of total banking activity in Algeria, Banque Al Baraka D’Algérie is well placed to benefit from any further changes in the local legal infrastructure that are instituted to foster the growth of shariah-compliant banking. The bank offers shariah-compliant retail and commercial banking services. With the fortunes of the bank very much tied to Algeria’s oil-and-gas-dependent economy, in 2011 the bank reported an 18% increase in net income, a 9% increase in assets ($1.76 billion) and a 14% increase in customer deposits. The bank attributes the growth in assets to an increased range of banking products and the opening of more branches across a number of cities.

Mohamed Seddik Hafid, board member & general manager /


Al Baraka Islamic Bank—Bahrain

According to credit rating agency Capital Intelligence, Al Baraka Islamic bank has a comfortable liquidity position and high capital adequacy ratio, which should help it withstand an uncertain regional and global economic and credit outlook. Despite a decline in net operating income, the result of a 61% increase in operating expenses stemming from the consolidation of operations in Pakistan and Bahrain, 2011 saw the bank increase its total operating income by 51% to 16.2 million Bahraini dinars ($43 million), which it says reflects the quality and growth in income-generating assets as well as a reduction in nonperforming loans. In the past 12 months the bank has made a concerted effort to diversify its product range and expand its branch network as well as to increase its financing of foreign trade, including an Islamic finance deal worth $40 million to finance the importation of commodities such as sugar.

Mohamed Isa Al Mutaweh, member of the Board of Directors and CEO /


Islami Bank Bangladesh

As one of the first “interest-free” banks in South East Asia, Islami Bank, when it first opened its doors in the early 1980s, marked a significant chapter in the history of the country’s financial markets. From day one the bank sought to provide an expansive footprint and presence across the country, including rural areas. In June 2011 the local credit rating agency, CRISL, reaffirmed Islamic Bank’s AA+ long-term rating, highlighting the bank’s “good capital adequacy, financial performance, asset quality and strong market position.” With 266 branches, Islami Bank Bangladesh has the most extensive operating network of the country’s private commercial banks. The bank continues to focus on providing shariah-compliant financial services for individuals, SMEs and corporate bodies.

Mohammad Abdul Mannan, managing director /


Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam

In April, BIBD’s managing director, Javed Ahmad, was reported as saying that shariah-compliant banking in Brunei would increase its market share from 40% to between 55% and 60% within the next four years. As Brunei looks to position itself as an Islamic finance hub, BIBD is well placed to benefit. At year-end 2011, total assets of the bank stood at 5.7 billion Brunei dollars ($4.6 billion). The year saw strong growth (28%) in customer deposits and profit before zakat and tax increased by 16.2%. The bank provides a wide range of shariah-compliant financial services to consumers, corporates and institutions. In recent months BIBD has successfully closed a number of key financing transactions for Turkish banks.

Javed Ahmad, managing director /


Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt

Islamic financing in Egypt appears to have benefited from last year’s Arab Spring uprisings. Despite the country’s majority Muslim population, the former regime, headed by Mubarak, was not particularly encouraging toward Islamic finance, yet recent reports suggest that the changing political climate is seeing more advertising and interest in Islamic investment products. As one of the few fully-fledged Islamic banks in Egypt, Faisal Islamic Bank will no doubt benefit from the renewed interest in Islamic finance. Against a difficult operating environment in 2011, Faisal Islamic Bank’s net financing and investment balances increased by approximately 10% to 30.84 billion Egyptian pounds ($5 billion). The bank achieved total profits in 2011 of EGP 348.1 million ($58 million).

Prince Mohammed Al-Faisal Al-Saud, chairman /


Bank Muamalat Indonesia

As the country’s oldest Islamic bank, Bank Muamalat is proving an attractive acquisition target for Malaysian Islamic banks looking to expand into the Indonesian market. According to media reports, Malaysia’s Bank Islam is in talks to buy a stake in the Indonesian bank. The bank is looking to finance the expansion of its network and increase its capital position by issuing shariah-compliant bonds worth up to 1.5 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($16.2 billion). The bank’s gross profit increase by more than 93% in 2011 over the same period the previous year to 270 billion rupiah ($29.4 billion).

Arviyan Arifin, president director  /


Jordan Islamic Bank

The Islamic International Rating Agency extended its AA Sharia Quality Rating for Jordan Islamic Bank, saying that it “conforms to a high level of standards” when it comes to quality analysis. A member of the Bahrain-based Al Baraka banking group, JIB was the first Islamic bank in Jordan and boasts an extensive network of more than 70 branches throughout the kingdom. In 2011 the bank participated in a number of major financing deals, including one for the National Electric Power Co, which it financed individually.

Musa Shihadeh, vice chairman & general manager /


Al Hilal Islamic Bank JSC

Abu Dhabi–based Al Hilal Group spread its operations to Kazakhstan in 2010, becoming the first Islamic bank in a country where 60% of the population is Muslim. Although Kazakhstan has lofty Islamic finance ambitions, seeing itself as the hub for Islamic finance in the CIS region, there have been some teething problems, with the central bank of Kazakhstan suspending Al Hilal’s license for failing to comply with minimum equity capital requirements. The Abu Dhabi–owned bank soon rectified the situation by increasing its capital. Al Hilal plans to focus on oil and gas and infrastructure projects in the region.

Mohamed Jamil Berro, CEO /


Kuwait Finance House

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Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Omar, Kuwait Finance House

KFH has played a major role in a number of key projects involving funding companies in Kuwait and the Gulf via sukuk and murabaha. Alongside the government of the Kingdom of Bahrain, KFH jointly participated in a $4 billion real estate investment that entails building housing units for more than 100,000 people in Bahrain. The bank says it also arranged deals worth more than that sum in the sukuk market. It also rolled out a number of innovative consumer banking products, including a prepaid card where a portion of the revenue is donated to help those in need.

Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Omar, CEO /


BLOM Development Bank

A fully-fledged Islamic bank owned by Lebanon’s BLOM Bank, in its five years of operations BLOM Development Bank has achieved a number of key objectives in terms of growing its business and providing investors with a range of innovative investment alternatives. In an effort to demonstrate that Islamic financing can compete on an equal footing with conventional banking when it comes to product innovation, the bank has forged a strong reputation in the local market in the area of structured products. Net income for the bank increased from 497 million Lebanese pounds in 2010 to 1.4 billion Lebanese pounds in 2011.

Amr Azhari, chairman and general manager /


Maybank Islamic Berhad

2011 saw Maybank continue to break new ground in one of the most dynamic and liquid sukuk markets in the world. It is the largest Islamic bank in Malaysia with a 20% market share. Although Maybank Islamic Berhad’s financing portfolio lacks “seasoning,” RAM Ratings expects its asset quality to remain healthy as a result of Maybank Group’s prudent risk management. The Islamic bank contributes approximately 13.4% of Maybank’s consolidated pre-tax profit, according to RAM Ratings. For the six months ended 31 December 2011, the bank posted profit before tax and zakat of 515.5 million ringgit ($170 million).

Muzaffar Hisham, CEO /


Jaiz Bank

Islamic banking in Nigeria is still very much in its infancy, and despite vociferous support from central bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who wants to build the country into an Islamic finance hub, there is still strong opposition within some quarters to the promotion of Islamic finance within a country that is wracked by religious divisions. Jaiz Bank is the first Islamic bank in Nigeria to offer noninterest commercial banking out of three branches. It only started offering Islamic banking in January, so there is still some way to go before it develops a full suite of Islamic financial products. However, one has to applaud it for its efforts so far in an environment that has not always been receptive to Islamic finance.

Alhaji Umaru Abdul Mutallab, chairman /


Meezan Bank

Pakistan’s leading Islamic bank consolidated its position in the market with total assets crossing the 205 billion rupees ($2.3 billion) mark in the first quarter ended March 31. Deposits increased to 175 billion rupees on the back of an aggressive branch expansion program. Profit after tax increased by 54% to 903 million rupees in the first quarter of this year. In January the bank acted as financial adviser and lead arranger on a 4.8 billion rupees syndicated Islamic finance facility for DH Fertilizers.

Irfan Siddiqui, president & CEO /


Qatar Islamic Bank

QIB’s ambition to consolidate its position as the leading domestic Islamic bank got off to a good start, with first-quarter net profit increasing by 21% on the previous year to 388 million Qatari riyals ($107 million). Operating income increased by 20% to 777 million riyals, and total assets grew by a healthy 18.4%. In March its EFH Global Sukuk Plus Fund in the UK exceeded $200 million in assets under management.

Ahmad Meshari, acting CEO /

Saudi Arabia

Al Rajhi Bank

With a large base of customer deposits, Al Rajhi Bank has been talked up by analysts in recent months. The bank boasts the largest ATM and branch network in the kingdom. In the first quarter of this year the bank achieved double-digit percentage growth in operating income and assets. Total assets in Q1 increased by 15% on the same period the previous year—to 234 billion Saudi riyals ($62 billion). Total operating income increased by 17%—to 491 million riyals. The bank has a large deposit base and has diversified its funding mix.

Suliman bin Abdul Aziz Azzabin, CEO /



It is still very much early days for Islamic banking in Singapore, with local banks setting up Islamic windows and Malaysian banks also offering Islamic financial services in the country. OCBC Corporate & Institutional provides a range of Islamic financial services including current accounts, leasing, syndicated finance, equipment finance and trade finance. It also has a dedicated Islamic bank called OCBC Al-Amin in Malaysia.

Samuel Tsien, CEO /

South Africa

Al Baraka Islamic Bank

Part of the far-reaching Al Baraka Banking Group, Al Baraka Islamic Bank was established in South Africa in 1989. As a fully-fledged Islamic bank in South Africa rather than a bank that simply operates an Islamic window, it maintains its own in-house shariah supervisory department. One of the bank’s reported ambitions is to grow its client base across the region, including non-Muslim clients. In 2010 the bank reported 20.7% growth in its deposit book to 441 million rand ($57 million).

Shabir Chohan, CEO /


Faisal Islamic Bank of Sudan

Faisal has more than 30 branches in Sudan and is a pioneer when it comes to Islamic banking in the country. In 2010 it saw revenues grow by 35.8% to 212.5 million Sudan pounds ($79 million) on the back of strong returns on investment and banking services. Net prots, less zakat and taxes, amounted to 105.2 million pound—an increase of almost 50% on 2009 levels.

Ali Omer Ibrahim Farah, general manager /


Kuveyt Türk

The International Islamic Rating Agency upgraded the foreign and local currency ratings of Kuveyt Turk Katilim Bankasi back in February, saying that the bank benefited from the strong balance sheet of its sponsoring shareholder, Kuwait Finance House. The bank has an extensive network of branches and according to IIRA had a 26% market share as of the third quarter 2011. The bank’s two recent sukuk issuances were well received by investors from the Gulf and Europe and saw the bank playing a pioneering role in accessing the sukuk market for long-term financing.

Ufuk Uyan, CEO /

United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

ADIB was the first Islamic bank to be established in Abu Dhabi and the second in the UAE. In the past few years, the bank has spearheaded a number of major achievements: doubling customer financing assets and the number of customers; achieving more than 56.5 billion dirham in deposits; and growing the balance sheet to 75 billion dirham. In the midst of a global economic slowdown it successfully issued two major sukuk: a $750 million sukuk in Q4 2010 and a $500 million sukuk in Q4 2011.

H.E. Jawaan Awaidha Suhail Al Khaili /

United Kingdom

The Bank of London and the Middle East

Billing itself as the largest Islamic bank in Europe, BLME has been busy putting the final touches to a number of significant deals. In the renewable energy sector it signed a £14 million ($23 million) leasing deal to help fit an offshore power cable installation barge. Despite the difficult economic climate, BLME reported operating profit before impairment charges of £4.4 million in 2011, a 10% increase on 2010’s results. The bank says its corporate and private banking drove most of the growth in profitability.

Humphrey Percy, CEO /

United States

Devon Bank

While the US has not gone as far as other countries in terms of changing rules and regulations to foster the growth of Islamic finance, Devon Bank in Chicago offers a range of shariah-compliant products across a number of US states. The bank is a community bank that provides both conventional and Islamic finance, or what it calls faith-based financing. Although a fully-fledged Islamic bank is still some ways off in the US, Devon Bank’s innovative approach is winning hearts and minds.

David Loundy, vice-chairman and head of religion-based financing /

alt Best Islamic Financial Firms 2012