Qatar Islamic, Bahrain bank eye France units
Abu Dhabi, January 22, 2009
Qatar Islamic Bank and another Gulf lender may be licensed to introduce Islamic banking services in France later this year, a member of a French banking delegation said.
"The regulations are ready and licences for at least these two banks are in an advanced stage. We expect the first Islamic bank to be set up before end of 2009," said Gilles Saint Marc, a lawyer who was part of the delegation accompanying Christian Noyer, the head of the Bank of France, during a Gulf visit.
He declined to name the other bank, which another delegation member said is based in Bahrain.
Qatar Islamic bank officials could not be reached immediately to comment. In September, a senior bank official was quoted as saying it planned ventures in north Africa, France and Germany, in addition to its subsidiaries in London and Malaysia.
"Some other banks have also expressed interest to offer sharia-compliant products and services," Saint Marc said.
Demand for Islamic banking has grown in recent years and expanded from the Middle East as more of the world's 1.3 million Muslims seek investments that comply with their faith. France is home to 5 million Muslims, western Europe's largest Muslim community. - Reuters