Top 100 Islamic banks defy recession woes as combined assets grow 66%

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Top 100 Islamic banks defy recession woes as combined assets grow 66%

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Dubai: The Asian Banker has released its annual ranking of the world’s top 100 Islamic banks by assets.

Combined assets of world’s 100 top Islamic banks increased 66 per cent last year, bucking the trend of slow growth in other markets. Asia’s 300 largest banks, for example, only grew assets 13.4 per cent in the same period according to a survey conducted by The Asian Banker, a Singapore based publication. “Islamic finance has seen an incredible surge in popularity, based on stronger regulatory regimes and a better international understanding of its dynamics,” says Emmanuel Daniel, President and chief executive of The Asian Banker.

The report notes that Islamic finance assets are largely concentrated in Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but growth drivers have come from all over the region, in particular Al Rajhi Bank, which saw assets increase 32.1 per cent. Banks in Bahrain, Malaysia, Kuwait, Qatar, Syria, and the United Kingdom also saw significant double or triple-digit asset growth.

Despite the financial turmoil in late 2008 that crippled so many large Western institutions, Islamic banks have continued to grow in prominence and size. According to Asian Banker Research, the world’s 100 largest wholly Islamic banks ranked by assets held more than $580 billion (Dh2.1 trillion) in assets in 2008, a 66 per cent increase from the $350 billion they held in the previous year.

The top ten banks remained largely the same as the ones that dominated the previous year, with Bank Melli Iran (BMI) still topping the list and Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank in second place, albeit catching up rapidly with a 32 per cent surge in assets compared with BMI’s negligible growth. Iranian banks are still the biggest Islamic banking players, holding seven out of the top 10 ranks, and 12 of the 100. The Iranian banks also take up around 40 per cent of listing’s assets. The four next-largest markets – the UAE, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – each has similar asset sizes to one another, and together carve out nearly another 40 per cent of the ranking’s assets combined, with smaller banks in 10 other markets rounding out the list.

Although two Islamic banks in the United Kingdom are large enough to be in the top 100, Islamic banks headquartered outside the Middle East, Asia and North Africa are still very small next to longer-established players in the Middle East. East of Iran, as only Mal-aysian and Bangladeshi Islamic banks have a significant amount of assets. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, only has two banks on the list, while Pakistan has three, and Brunei and Singapore one each.

Saudi Arabia’s representation is proportionately the largest, as the three banks it has in the list are all in the top 35. Sudanese banks appeared to be among the weakest, with only seven appearing in this year’s ranking, down from 19 in the previous ranking. Despite the size of the Iranian banks, Saudi Arabian banks are much more profitable – the three Saudi Arabian banks in the top 100 Islamic banks contributed 19 per cent of the ranking’s total income.

Al Rajhi Bank had the highest net income figure of $1.74 billion – the only bank to break the billion-dollar mark, which was almost three times more than the second-placed Kuwait Finance House. The bank also earned over five times the most profitable Iranian bank, Bank Tejarat. The bank that jumped the greatest in the asset ranking is Dubai’s start-up lender Noor Islamic Bank, which climbed up the ranks to 20th this year.

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