By Pratap John/Chief Business Reporter
Barwa Bank expects its sukuk trading platform to become full-fledged by the year-end and sees the market as “very competitive and lucrative with a great potential”, chief investment officer Bashar Jallad said.
Speaking to Gulf Times yesterday, Jallad said Barwa Bank was active in both the primary and secondary sukuk markets and started to act as a custodian for some of the clients.
“The sukuk market is limited but in the last couple of years we have seen quite a decent pipeline of issuances. There is a lot of appetite for Shariah-compliant products here,” Jallad said.
“Obviously, the State of Qatar’s sukuk is one of the papers we like to have. Then there are sukuk issued by QIB, QIIB and other regional institutions,” Jallad said.
He said fixed income has become a “very good trend” for most financial institutions to invest their money, in order to benefit from the higher yield provided by it as an alternative to deploying funds in the normal money market.
Jallad said Barwa Bank’s sukuk trading platform is already functional but has not reached the “optimum level”.
“We will gain momentum as we move forward and continue to add more accounts,” he said.
With Islamic capital markets experiencing rapid growth globally and receiving growing attention from non-Islamic investors, Barwa Bank’s successes have positioned it as a key player in the market’s growth.
Barwa Bank, Jallad said, is “well placed” to take part and complement the infrastructure growth plans that are taking place and expected to happen in Qatar in the months ahead.
“There are clear opportunities in Qatar. Islamic banking assets grew tremendously over the past few years, Qatar in particular. The country witnessed much higher growth than the other neighbouring countries in the GCC in terms of Islamic asset classes.
There is good demand and can be met provided there is product innovation,” Jallad pointed out.
As a Shariah-compliant lender, Barwa Bank is well capitalised. The bank has a clear strategy in terms of capital planning in line with the Qatar Central Bank regulatory framework.
Asked whether Barwa Bank would consider picking up “lucrative” assets abroad, he said, “These are things that we always look at. Our focus, however, at this stage is Qatar. We believe Qatar economy adds great value to our proposition. We are first of all a Qatar-based bank … and closer to home is the best place to do business. However, if good opportunities present themselves in the region or elsewhere, we might consider and look at these.”
Jallad said Barwa Bank wanted its customers to see it as a “one-stop-shop”.
A focus area for the bank is relationship management.
“We put spotlight on providing top class service to our customers and present an array of products to them. We attach top priority to risk management in a well-regulated environment.”
A veteran banker, Jallad was brought in to help drive the treasury and investment business for Barwa Bank. He has more than 20 years banking experience in treasury and financial capital markets.
He joined the Barwa Bank Group in September last year as the group treasurer and chief investment officer.