BMA grants four new licences for banks, financing firm
The Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA) has granted two new licences for banks and another to a financing company.
A licence has also been granted to an existing financing company, which was previously licensed by the Ministry of Commerce. The new licences were recently approved by Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Chairman of the BMA Board.
Venture Capital Bank (VCBank) has been licensed to offer venture capital financing and carry of out investment activities in accordance with Islamic principles.
The bank, which will have a paid up capital of US$50 million, is being established by a group of investors from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Global Emerging Markets Group (GEM Group), a US-based venture capital firm, is a technical partner of VCBank.
The BMA has also granted a licence to Reef, the first real estate financing company in Bahrain. The firm is being established with a paid up capital of BD20 million (US$53m). The firm’s shareholders are Al Khaleej Development Company (Tameer), Global Investment House and Ossis Properties, each with a 10% shareholding, and other individual investors.
A licence has also been issued to the Bahrain Commercial Facilities Company (BCFC). The firm, which has been operating in Bahrain since 1983, was previously licensed by the Ministry of Commerce, while reporting to the BMA. With the introduction by the BMA of a licence for financing companies, the BCFC has now become a BMA licensee.
The firm, which is listed on the Bahrain Stock Exchange (BSE), specializes in extending short, medium and long term loans to consumers in Bahrain. “These are the first two financing companies to be licensed by the BMA since this licence category was introduced in 2004,” said Mr. Ahmed Al Bassam, Director, Licensing & Policy, at the BMA.
The BMA has also granted a licence to leading Turkish commercial bank Vakifbank Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi (Vakif) to establish a branch office in Bahrain.
The Bahrain branch, which will be an offshore banking unit, is Vakif’s first venture in the Middle East. Established in 1954, Vakif has a paid up capital of US$312 million, while total assets stood at US$12 billion. The bank enjoys a country ranking of 7 and a world ranking of 650.
Through its Bahrain branch, the bank will explore and develop banking opportunities between Turkey and the Middle East. Vakif will be the 14th Turkish bank to establish a presence in Bahrain.
The BMA has also approved a licence for Switzerland-based Man Investment AG, to establish a Representative Office in Bahrain. The new licence will substitute an existing licence for Man Investment Limited, which is headquartered in London. The change is being effected as a result of corporate restructuring within the Man Group. There will be no effect on the firm’s existing funds management activities in and from Bahrain.
Earlier, the BMA granted a licence to Dexia Private Bank (Switzerland), to establish a Representative Office in Bahrain. The Dexia Group is a major player in retail financial services, investment management services and treasury and financial markets in Europe.
“Bahrain continues to attract foreign, regional and local institutions and investors,” said Mr. Al Bassam.
A new, flexible licensing framework, being developed by the BMA, will further facilitate the conduct of financial services from Bahrain, he pointed out. The new framework, which is currently being finalised, is planned for implementation later this year.