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BankMuscat to launch Islamic fund

April 20, 2007 12:08 IST

Oman's largest bank BankMuscat, which recently picked up 43 per cent stake in the domestic brokerage house Mangal Keshav Group, is raising a $ 250 million Shari'ah-compliant India-specific fund and another $ 500 million private equity fund for investments in the booming domestic market.

"We are looking at private equity investments in India with a corpus fund of at least $ 400-500 million," said Abdullah Zahran Al Hinai, assistant general manager (Investment Banking Division), BankMuscat.

K Gopakumar, general manager and head of wholesale banking at BankMuscat, said the bank had already invested $150 million in Indian stock markets through the portfolio management services route.

This money was largely raised from non-resident Indians and managed by four Indian companies, including Reliance Asset Management and ASK Raymond James.

The proposed $ 250 million Shari'ah-compliant fund would stay away from stocks that are into liquor, tobacco, banking etc. The fund would be raised primarily from Oman and Dubai, he said. BankMuscat, which owns assets worth $ 7.7 billion, has been in India over the past eight years.

The bank is also a stakeholder in Rana Talwar-controlled Centurion Bank of Punjab. The new fund will be managed by Mangal Keshav.

"We are looking at a Shari'ah-compliant fund to invest into the Indian equities through Mangal Keshav in the next 3-6 months. Since we have started our operations in Saudi Arabia, we will also look at the possibility of raising money from this market as well," Gopakumar added.

On the private equity foray, Abdullah Zahran Al Hinai, said the $ 500 million corpus fund would invest in high-potential unlisted Indian companies. He, however, did not give a timeframe for the private equity fund.

Officials said BankMuscat would also assist Indian companies to raise funds from the Islamic bond market.

The deputy chief executive of BankMuscat Sunder George said the bank would also foray into wealth management and asset management to provide a host of services to its customers.
Reena Zachariah in Mumbai
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