UAE’s First Gulf Bank Acquires 100% Stake In Islamic Finance Firm

First Gulf Bank, the second-largest lender by market value in the United Arab Emirates, said on Saturday it had acquired full ownership of an Islamic finance company as it expands its sharia-complaint operations globally.

FGB raised its ownership from 40 per cent to 100 per cent in Aseel Islamic Finance through a purchase agreement, it said in a statement without providing the acquisition cost.

Stakes of 20 per cent each had been held by Aldar Properties, Sorouh Real Estate and Reem Investments.

“This agreement is part of the bank’s larger dual expansion strategy which is focused on enhancing its global presence,” the statement said.

Aseel plans to diversify its offering from mainly mortgage products and home financing to a broader mix including small and medium enterprises, the statement added.

Set up in 2006, Aseel is capitalised at Dhs 800 million ($218 million). It has total assets of Dhs 1.5 billion.

Malaysia's Maybank first quarter net profit up 18.4 percent

Malaysia’s largest lender Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) (MBBM.KL) on Thursday posted an 18.4 percent increase in first-quarter net profit, lifted by a stronger loan business and its Islamic banking operations.

The bank posted a net profit of 1.35 billion ringgit ($429.25 million) in the quarter ended March 31, 2012 compared with 1.14 billion ringgit in the same quarter a year ago.

Malaysia's Maybank first quarter net profit up 18.4 percent

Revenue for the quarter ending March 31, 2012 climbed 29.8 percent to 6.66 billion ringgit from a year earlier.

Maybank said the better performance was mainly on the back of growth in its net loans and advances.

Malaysian banks have reported robust earnings in recent quarters, riding on growth at home and in Singapore and Indonesia, although a possible euro zone recession may slow global growth and earnings for the lenders.

The group’s first quarter financial performance was above the profit estimate of 1.23 billion ringgit provided by analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Of the 25 analysts tracked by the data service, 13 held a “Strong Buy” or “Buy” call on the stock, six called the stock a “Hold” and six “Underperform” or “Sell.”

Maybank said it expected a “satisfactory” financial performance for this fiscal year ending December 31 due to solid economic growth in Southeast Asia.

Maybank shares rose 0.95 percent prior to the announcement, outperforming the Malaysia’s benchmark stock index’s .KLSE rise of rose 0.35 percent. ($1 = 3.1450 Malaysian ringgits)