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Ahlibank plans up to 10 Islamic banking branches in first year

Muscat - 

Ahlibank is planning to initially launch four branches under its Al Hilal Islamic Banking brand, with the bank planning to open up to ten branches over the following 12 months, according to a senior  official.

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Abdullah al Jabri, DGM and head of operations at Ahlibank, said that the bank will allocate RO20mn as initial capital for its Al Hilal window and the launch of more branches will depend on business opportunity and requirements.

He said, “We are ready to launch a minimum of four branches and we can open up to ten branches over the next one year.

“We are expecting to assign RO20mn as capital for the Islamic window subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. I think RO20mn capital is reasonable enough to support the business in its early stages.”

He said that Ahlibank, which aims to become a leading player in Islamic banking, will be looking to target a 15-20 per cent market share in the sector.

“We are determined to be a leading player in Islamic banking. Since all Islamic finance products are not going to be allowed in Oman, all the banks will be offering the same type of products.

“However, from our side we are ready to roll out all types of products because our strategic partner Ahli United Bank has experience in the GCC. So in terms of skillset and capability we are capable of introducing any Islamic product due to our partner's experience in other countries,” said Jabri.

Recently, Ahlibank launched a rights issue of 250mn shares to raise RO25mn to fund its Islamic banking operations and boost Tier I capital. The subscription to the rights issue ended on Sunday.

A bank press release said that it will hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) today at the Grand Hyatt Muscat, with topics ranging from Sharia supervisory board appointments and amendments to the bank's articles of association to be discussed prior to the launch of its Islamic banking service.

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