By Santhosh V Perumal/Business Reporter/Kuala Lumpur

Maybank Islamic, is one of the leading arrangers of sukuk in the world, has viewed Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including Qatar, as its priority region in mobilising funds through Shariah-principled bonds.
“The GCC is definitely on our radar. It all depends on what kind of opportunities are available,” said Nor Shahrizan Sulaiman, deputy chief executive of Maybank Islamic, which is wholly-owned by Maybank Group with strong credit ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.
The lender, a leading Islamic bank in the Asean region with assets to the tune of $42.65bn as on June 30, 2015, has a branch in Bahrain and a 30% stake in Anfaal Capital in Saudi Arabia.
Maybank is exploring opportunities in the Middle East through its stake in the Saudi Arabia’s Anfaal Capital.
Asked about its expansion plans, Sulaiman said it didn’t mean necessarily enlarging the physical presence, but striking more deals, which can be done through its Bahrain office.
Almost 90% of the Maybank Islamic’s balance sheet is domestic and the remaining 10% is from overseas operations, he said.
“Of the 10%, only 1.5% is from th e Middle East, which we definitely want to scale up and there is potential,” Sulaiman told Gulf Times on the sidelines of a luncheon meeting in Kuala Lumpur without disclosing the timeframe by which it plans to garner more share in the Gulf region.
Maybank Islamic is eyeing more funds from the GCC, which has higher liquidity, he said.
“We are not going by country-specific names but liquidity is abundant there despite the fall in oil prices,” Sulaiman said, when asked specifically about Qatar.
Asked about the prospects in the GCC in the wake of the 50% year-on-year fall in oil prices; the official said he still finds potential in the economies and the abundance of liquidity is a pointer towards that.
Maybank was one of the six-member consortium to arrange $750mn five-year sukuk for Dubai Islamic Bank early this year.
“We are interested in the assets side rather than plain funding,” he said about the prospects in the GCC, where its operations are in the wholesale banking.

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