The Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA) has licensed three financial institutions to open Offshore banking units (OBUs) in the tiny Island, known as the Gulf’s banking hub. BMA, the kingdom’s central bank, currently regulates a total of 179 commercial banks and financial institutions, with combined assets topping $100 billion. Nearly 50 of these institutions are OBUs.
An OBU will be launched by Turkey's wholesale bank Turk Ekonomi Bankasi (TEB), which owned total assets of $1.13 billion at June-end 2002. Eleven other Turkish banks already operate under BMA licenses. Joining four other Pakistani banks, the Askari Commercial Bank Limited (ACBL) will open an ONU shortly. Its total assets reached $850 million at year-end 2001.
Being set up with a paid up capital of $100 million, the locally incorporated Al-Gosaibi Bahrain Bank, is minority owned by a Saudi investor group. The government has also given its initial approval this week to expand the local operations of the State Bank of India (SBI)Bahrain licenses new offshore operations, which currently operates an OBU and is interested in setting up a Bahraini branch, reported Gulf News.
Bahrain is the host of the largest concentration of Islamic banks and other financial institutions in the Middle East. It is one of the few countries that allow both conventional and Sharia based transactions. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )