GFH plans to tap into emerging Asia markets
Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House is all set to
increase its international profile, it was revealed yesterday. The
bank will soon unveil a five-year plan entitled 'The Way Forward'.
The comprehensive plan is aimed at charting the way forward to
establish a significant global presence and tapping into emerging
markets in Asia, said GFH chairman Dr Fuad Al Omar.
"This strategic initiative comes close on the heels of robust
financial growth in 2006 whereby GFH reinforced its standing as the
region's leading Islamic investment bank," he noted.
"The bank posted a net profit of $212 million last
year, a significant increase of 51 per cent compared to the figures
posted in 2005.
"The bank's asset base was further strengthened and at the end of
last year, its total assets stood at $1.5bn." GFH also delivered a
return on equity averaging 41pc with a return on paid-up capital of
nearly 100pc and a record total dividend of 75pc of par value - 63pc
in cash and 12pc in shares.
Dr Al Omar said that the proposed new way forward was an endorsement
on the success of the bank's business strategy and the commitment
and diligence of the executive management.
Details of the proposed plan would be unveiled soon, he added.
GFH chief executive officer and board member Esam
Janahi acknowledged the strong support and continued trust of the
shareholders in the executive management. He emphasised that the key
to the bank's success has been the net result of board of directors'
proactive involvement in the bank's operations and the support from
Mr Janahi added that GFH's development projects have made a visible
and tangible impact on the economies of Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan,
Qatar, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
"It is therefore imperative that we now focus on expanding
internationally to reach into both developing and developed markets
in Asia and Europe," he added.
Mr Janahi said GFH was also exploring new ways of increasing its
It is looking at listing its shares in other GCC and international
stock markets to provide shareholders access to more established
liquid markets, to expand its shareholder base and to increase its
visibility, he revealed.
The bank's shares are currently listed in Bahrain, Kuwait and Dubai.
GFH, as part of its regional expansion plans, obtained an
in-principle regulatory approval for the Islamic Investment Bank of
Qatar (previously known as Qatar Finance House), which should become
operational by end of first quarter this year.
Energy City India project marked for the first time the bank's entry
into one of Asia's fastest growing markets.
"We are already evaluating additional development project
opportunities identified in Asia and Europe and we expect to make
further announcements during the course of this year," said Mr
"For us, this year will also be a significant year as two of our
first landmark projects - Bahrain Financial Harbour and the Al Areen
Development will officially open for business."
The bank's performance last year was also enhanced by a number of
successful exits generating admirable short-to-medium term returns
for investors which ranged from 10.5pc per annum for
income-producing investments to more than 34pc per annum for private
equity investments that were geared towards capital growth.
Successful exits included income-producing property portfolios in
the UK and France.
"The way forward is now to leverage on the success of the past seven
years and define a new synergy to capitalise and lay the foundation
for the next five years," said Dr Al Omar.
"This will be a crucial phase which will see GFH mark its presence
on the global map and lead the way in Islamic Investments."