Winners of the 2008 Islamic Investment Awards announced

Published May 28th, 2008 - 04:09 GMT

Winners of the 2008 Islamic Investment Awards announced
Unicorn Investment Bank and Eskan Bank recognised for their achievements at major international ceremony

The winners of two prestigious Islamic investment awards were recognised today at an impressive gala dinner ceremony of the 4th Annual World Islamic Funds & Capital Markets Conference (WIFCMC 2008) held at the Gulf International Convention Centre, Kingdom of Bahrain.

The WIFCMC Funds Excellence Award 2008 was awarded to Unicorn Investment Bank, recognising outstanding achievement and contribution by a financial institution in the development of the Shari’ah-compliant investments industry either through creating sophisticated products, or delivering exceptional growth and returns.  Key achievements by Unicorn Investment Bank that were recognised in the conferring of this prestigious award include their role in the following:
• US$ 1 billion Dar-Al-Arkan Sukuk, the largest Saudi Sukuk to be listed on the BSE
• KSA Real Estate Fund (Final exit in March 2007) - The fund was one of the first to allow non-Saudi nationals to participate in the benefits of the Saudi Arabian real estate market
• Launched the Islamic Global Private Equity Fund in 2006, and continues to invest in diversified sectors and regions including GCC, US, SE Asia, Levant & Turkey
• Developed and launched Takaful company – t'azur. t'azur is a regional Takaful company licensed in November 2007 to offer Shari'ah-compliant life, medical and general insurance. Unicorn has a 25.9% stake in the company.
• Has expanded its geographical presence to include the US, Bahrain, UAE, Malaysia, Turkey, Pakistan (via associate undertaking) and soon KSA.

Majid Al Sayed Bader Al-Refai, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Unicorn Investment Bank said on Unicorn being recognised by the 2008 WIFCMC Funds Excellence Award: “Product excellence and innovation are an integral part of Unicorn’s mission, and we are honored to receive this award which recognises our commitment and our continuous efforts to provide the market with innovative and competitive Shari’ah-compliant investment products and services. Unicorn is determined to be at the forefront of the rapid development of the Islamic financial services industry and is committed to being a market leader in Shari’ah-compliant investment banking.”

The second award presented at the gala dinner, The WIFCMC Innovation Award 2008, recognised a market leading institution that has excelled in the pioneering role of developing new and innovative Shari’ah-compliant mortgage finance solutions.  Eskan Bank received this award in recognition of the bank’s groundbreaking and innovative activities such as the milestone launch of the first residential mortgage backed securitisation (RMBS) in August 2007 within Bahrain. This very successful product launch which was 1.74 times oversubscribed and had an issuance value of BD30 million worth of residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS), backed by a pool of Bahraini mortgage loans originated by the bank.

This launch has made it possible for Eskan Bank to meet the needs of Bahraini citizens more effectively, by providing access to a new form of liquid funding and as well as creating a sustainable program for Bahrain.  It had the effect of reducing the waiting time for people who want an affordable way of purchasing their homes and it increased the supply of funds into the sector, ensuring that more people can benefit from Ministry of Housing support. This was a clear milestone in the growth and development of Bahrain's financial markets and was the first securitisation transaction approved by the Central Bank of Bahrain under Bahrain's new Trust Law.

Tariq Al Jalahma, Head of Banking Operations, Eskan Bank commented:  “On behalf of Eskan Bank I would like to thank the Central Bank of Bahrain and Ernst & Young for this prestigious award. It reflects our ongoing commitment to innovation. We aim to consistently provide Bahraini citizens with the best mortgage related products an example being the RMBS which is the first of its kind in Bahrain and the region.”

More than 400 international delegates attended the 4th Annual World Islamic Funds & Capital Markets Conference, cementing its position as the largest and most important gathering on the global Islamic investments industry calendar.

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