Maybank Islamic’s move into branch banking in the Middle East aims to give investors there a first taste of investment in the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The Malaysian bank opened its first overseas branch at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in February with a portfolio of services including wholesale banking, sukuk, syndicated financing and trade finance.
“In a normal market situation, not what we are seeing at the moment, some people in the Gulf are looking to diversify their investor base,” country manager Nik Joharris Nik Ahmad told Salaam Gateway.
“They have been enjoying the European and American markets, but market strength has been shifting to Asia, starting with Greater China. We are trying to open them up to ASEAN and other markets where Maybank Group is very strong.”
This will take some effort, though. Most investors in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are not familiar with the different risks investments in ASEAN.
“We have assets over here that we want to show to them, but the problem is we don’t know exactly how much appetite GCC investors have for the ASEAN region. What we know is we have to keep showing them more opportunities until they find something they want to buy into,” Nik Joharris added.