Ayman Sejiny, CEO, Ibdar Bank, speaks to WEALTH Arabia about his organisation.
Tell me about Ibdar Bank.
Ibdar Bank is a fully-licensed Islamic wholesale bank, active in the ethics driven debt and capital market providing Islamic bond issuance, wealth management, alternative investments and other investment banking services. The Bank’s roots stem back to 1981 and today Ibdar Bank is in the top tier of Bahrain’s Islamic Wholesale Banks. Ibdar understands itself as the top Islamic challenger bank focusing on the Global Islamic Digital Economy (GIDE) providing sector expertise and a proven track record in Real Estate, Aviation, Trade & Manufacturing and FinTech. The Bank’s shareholder base includes blue chip financial institutions from Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi and the UAE.
What is the bank’s investment philosophy?
To deliver income generating investments. We believe that investors must be provided with myriad of opportunities that cater to a diverse risk appetite including low, medium and high risk investment opportunities across a wide range of sectors. Our investment strategy is guided by the United Nation’s Six Principles of Responsible Investment, which are voluntary and aspirational. They offer a menu of possible actions for incorporating environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues into investment practises across asset classes, and as such the bank strives to undertake investments that add sustainable social and economic value to the markets and communities in which we invest.
What does Ibdar provide for its investors?
Ibdar Bank provides its investors global income generating investment opportunities in aviation, real estate, Sukuk and investment funds. The bank is also expanding its services to include an array of investment advisory services.
How is Ibdar enhancing its offerings?
The bank sources high yielding investment opportunities. In real estate, our focus is in the UK and US markets, these opportunities are usually found in smaller cities rather than the capitals. In aviation, developing countries are providing a wealth of high yielding investments. Ibdar is also currently growing its investor relations team, allowing the bank to be even closer to its customers to understand their requirements so that Ibdar can deliver the products they are seeking. Our wealth management advisory services will include Awqaf, Family Office, asset allocation and sourcing and valuation.
Where does Ibdar Bank focus its investment portfolio?
The bank is focusing on fee income producing services and investment opportunities that are less capital intensive. Issuance of DCM (debt capital market) products and advisory on ECM (equity capital market) opportunities. Our current portfolio is focused on prime global real estate and aviation. Ibdar’s real estate team has been extensively involved in allocating unique investment opportunities within the international real estate market, with a special focus on the UK, US and MENA region in order to provide our investors with safer, better and more profitable opportunities. In 2017, the bank, in collaboration with leading US property and asset managers, acquired the headquarters of Amazon Robotics, in Boston, US. In 2016, the bank identified and invested in a $78 million multi-family housing property in Montgomery County Maryland, US, a $29.5 million Joint Venture (JV) to develop a prime Purpose-built Student Accommodation (PBSA) project in Southampton, UK, and in the development of a GBP 148 million scheme that will offer 458 residential apartments in Manchester, UK.
In addition to its extensive experience in real estate, Ibdar is recognised as a major player in the aviation sector, having successfully executed $277 million of aviation transactions since the establishment of the bank’s aviation platform in 2014. Amongst these transactions include the award-winning deal with multinational aerospace and transportation company Bombardier, where Ibdar pioneered the first ever Shari’ah-compliant transaction in Africa’s aviation sector’s history. We are also focusing on Sukuk and more capital market instruments. In terms of our investment footprint, we are looking to further expand our portfolio in the UK and the US and are currently exploring the European markets.
What is the focus of the bank as we move into 2018? Ibdar will reach out to investors across the globe. Technological advances have completely changed the relationship customers have with their banks and this does not only apply to retail banking only. Ibdar is exploring fintech opportunities through the Central Bank of Bahrain, which has established one of the first sandboxes in the region, allowing the financial sector to test new tools and services. Fintech will provide the bank with access to new investors and allow us to serve them better. The bank is currently working on building the capability in order to sell its products through fintech rather than face to face to facilitate global reach and attract international investors. Ibdar Bank is working towards becoming the world’s first fully-digitised Islamic investment bank that will cater to the needs of the global Islamic digitised economy (GIDE).