Bahrainís Salam Bank eyes Europe for expansion


MANAMA - Bahrain’s Al Salam Bank is eyeing expansion into Europe to tap greater deal opportunities, the lender’s chief executive said on Wednesday.
Salam, which operates according to Islamic law, expects to enter the European market within two years and was currently studying the region’s banking rules and institutions, Yousif Taqi told Reuters on the sidelines of a news conference.
“It’s too early to say where in Europe we are targeting. I know that Britain has relaxed its laws a lot -- that doesn’t mean we’re definitely going there -- but it is the country which has opened its doors to Islamic banking the most,” Taqi said.
“Definitely, we will be in Europe. Within two years say,” he added.
Europe provides good opportunities for deal-making and its large population of Muslims would complement the bank’s planned operations in their countries of origin, Taqi said. Western Europe has a population of more than 12 million Muslims.
The bank already has licences to operate in Algeria and Sudan, and has said it was eyeing Asia for further growth.
In January, Salam led a successful bid with other investors for a 60 percent stake of Sudan-government owned El Nilein Industrial Development Bank, which a Nilein official said was worth $80 million.
Salam plans to increase Nilein’s capital, although how and by how much had yet to be determined, Taqi said.
“We have many options. Private placement, initial public offering -- we still have no clear idea as we’re waiting for the due diligence. But hopefully we’ll know within two to three months maximum,” Taqi said. 



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