BANKS: ITALY HOLDING BACK, NO ISLAMIC FINANCE FOR THE MOMENT

(ANSAmed) – MILAN, APRIL 22 – A total 900,000 Muslims live in Italy and
there
are 70,000 companies set up by citizens coming from Arab countries. However,

an ‘Islamic bank’, unlike in almost the entire Europe and the USA where the
total sector’s assets stand at $500 billion, is far from appearing, despite
the
fact that investors are saying they are ready for it. ”We are ready to set
60%
of the investment necessary to open in Italy a bank abiding by the
principles
of Sharia and we have contacted various Italian credit institutes which are
interested. We have been working on this for some time: first we and other
operators were hoping to open it by the end of this year but various
problems
have made us think that nothing will be made in 2008,” Hatem Abou Said,
representative in Italy of Al-Baraka banking group of Bahrain, said at the
conference ‘Islam and the Business World’ held in Milan. ”The process will
be
long and probably difficult although there is a rising interest in the
sector.
There are still integration problems between the two systems regarding
regulations, supervision, the accounting criteria and balance,” Domenico
Santececca, corporate department chief of the Italian banking association
(ABI), said. As regards to the memorandum of understanding signed by ABI and

the Union of Arab Banks in September 2007, which envisaged a rapid
integration
between the two worlds of credit, Santececca said that ”the objective was
not
the development of Islamic finance in our country but the increase of mutual

awareness”. IntesaSanpaolo has made a step in the opposite direction,
deciding
to turn its representation office in Dubai into an ”operative branch”.
”We
have made the necessary requests to the local authorities and we expect to
open
the branch in the next months: it will assist both the Italian companies in
the
area and the activities of the major multinational companies in the Gulf
area,” Giuseppe Cuccurese, manager of the international network for foreign

markets of Intesa San Paolo’s corporate division, said on the sidelines of
the
conference in Milan. Today ‘Islamic banking’ is present in 75 countries in
the
world, with some 300 different credit institutes and 100 insurance companies

operative in the sector. The systems owns more than 350 private equity
investment funds, global assets worth over $1 trillion, capitals managed by
banks amounting to more than $300 billion which rise up to $500 billion the
funds included. Various big international banks – such as UBS, HBSC, BNP
Paribas – have opened for some time already an ‘Islamic section’, often with
an
operative seat in Dubai or Bahrain.

http://www.ansamed.info/en/top/ME11.YAM19061.html

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