Bahrain-based Unicorn Investment Bank is setting up an Islamic banking unit in Malaysia after being the first foreign bank to be given a licence under a new initiative, newspapers reported on Tuesday.
Unicorn recently obtained the licence from the central bank to establish an international Islamic banking subsidiary under the Malaysian International Islamic Financial Centre initiative, the papers said.
Central bank officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Under the initiative, banks are allowed to conduct a wide array of sharia-based banking business in Malaysia with non-residents in non-ringgit currencies.
Bank Negara has said that it was prepared to issue more licences to foreign banks which plan to conduct Islamic banking in multiple currencies to turn Malaysia into a global Islamic banking centre.
Unicorn has appointed Vaseehar Hassan Abdul Razack, former chairman of Malaysia's RHB Islamic Bank, as the chairman of the Malaysian unit, Unicorn International Islamic Bank Malaysia Bhd.
Vaseehar was quoted by The Star newspaper as saying that the bank would be looking to acquire at least a 30 per cent stake in a local Islamic bank over the next 12 to 18 months.
Unicorn had earlier failed in its bid to buy a stake in Malaysia's oldest Islamic lender, Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd. (Reuters)
Unicorn sets up Islamic bank in Malaysia