Japanese bank group to fully launch Islamic finance in Malaysia

TOKYO, March 11 ― Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp will fully launch Syariah-compliant Islamic finance in Malaysia, Japan's Jiji Press learned yesterday.

The core banking unit of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. has obtained a license for foreign currency-based Islamic finance services in the Southeast Asian country, which promotes Islamic finance under a national policy, Jiji Press quoting informed sources as saying.

SMBC hopes to use a fully owned local subsidiary as a key operational base for the whole of Southeast Asia, where fund demand is strong thanks to growth in the economy and population, the sources said.

The local subsidiary, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp Malaysia Bhd, is starting financial services in dollar and other currencies that are fully compliant with Syariah, which bans financial transactions involving interest payments and acceptance.

The Japanese bank group aims to find clients among local companies and Japanese firms participating in natural resources and infrastructure development projects, according to the sources.

Japanese banks are able to handle Islamic finance following a 2008 law revision. A British unit of SMBC in 2012 led the formation of a Syariah-compliant US$750 million (RM2.46 billion) syndicated loan programme for an airport project in Saudi Arabia.

SMBC will be the first Japanese bank to have an Islamic finance operational base both in Europe and Asia. ― Bernama