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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Bahrain’s Al Baraka, Morocco’s BMCE Bank launch Islamic lender in North African country

BTI Bank will target opening 37 branches by 2022 in different cities of Morocco

Morocco is the latest Arab country to allow the establishment of Islamic or participation banks after the approving legislation for the new market. Zacarias Garcia /The National
Morocco is the latest Arab country to allow the establishment of Islamic or participation banks after the approving legislation for the new market. Zacarias Garcia /The National

Bahrain’s Sharia-compliant lender Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) and Moroccan Bank for Foreign Commerce of Africa (BMCE Bank) have launched a new Islamic, or participation, lender in the North African country to tap its nascent Islamic financial industry.

Bank Al Tamweel wa Inma (BTI) Bank, which opened its headquarters in Casablanca this week, plans to have 37 branches by 2022 in various cities of Morocco, ABG said in a statement on Nasdaq Dubai where its shares are listed.

"We are confident of the large opportunities for the success of our bank, given the Morocco's significant and promising development potential in the field of participation banks,” said Adnan Yousif, chief executive of Al Baraka Banking Group. “Our studies have shown the promising opportunities in the area of investment and financing that await the services and products of BTI Bank.”

Morocco is the latest Arab country to allow the establishment of Islamic or participation banks after approving legislation for the new market, with the country's central bank forming a central sharia board to oversee the sector.

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The central bank approved in January five requests to open participation banks in the country; the first of these was Umnia Bank, a joint venture of Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and Moroccan lender Credit Immobilier et Hotelier, which started operations in May.

"Al Baraka Banking Group and the BMCE Bank have sought to establish a new model for participation banking in the Moroccan market, which is undergoing a gradual restructuring, coinciding with the development of Sharia banking regulations and this will ensure its success,” said Mohamed Maarouf, general manager of BTI Bank.

The Islamic finance industry has expanded in 2017, but lower oil prices and slower economic growth could force the sharia-compliant financial sector, a key area marked for growth by financial hubs in the Middle East and Asia, to lose momentum, S&P Global Ratings said in September.