Monday, August 31, 2009

Islamic Banking Surges

ASSETS held by the world's 100 biggest Islamic banks grew 66 per cent in 2008 from the previous year despite the financial turmoil that clobbered mainstream lenders, a report said on Friday.

The top 100 Islamic banks held assets totalling US$580 billion (S$836 billion) last year, up from US$350 billion in 2007, according to an annual report by The Asian Banker, a magazine for financial professionals.

In the same period, Asia's 300 biggest banks saw their assets rise by a much slower 13.4 per cent, it said.

A financial storm sparked by a crisis in the US housing market swept across the world late last year. Its impact spilled over into the general economy and sent several countries into recession. Prominent US investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed into bankruptcy, while several other major Western banks suffered massive losses. 'Despite the financial turmoil in late 2008 that crippled so many large Western institutions, Islamic banks have continued to grow in prominence and size,' the magazine said in a press statement.

Emmanuel Daniel, the magazine's president and chief executive, added: 'Islamic finance has seen an incredible surge in popularity, based on stronger regulatory regimes and a better international understanding of its dynamics.'