The Century Banking Corporation, the first Islamic bank, was launched at Suffren Hotel in Port Louis.
Pravind Jugnauth, Minister of Finance, Rundheersing Bheenick, Governor of the Bank of Mauritius and Mohamed Hesham Mohamed Ali Shokry Shokry, president of Century Banking Corporation Ltd were presented on the occasion.
After the general failure of the old style of Islamic investment banking following the global financial crisis, the general consensus seems to be that the future of Islamic finance’s growth and development will come from the retail sector. Growth can be expected to be seen at a retail level in mostly Muslim countries around the world. The surprising announcement that Mauritius’s central bank, The Bank of Mauritius, expects there to be an active Islamic bank in the island by the end of the first quarter of this year took observers by surprise. Like other budding financial centres around the globe Mauritius is pitching itself as a financial services hub, in Mauritius’s case one that bridges Africa with India and from there the rest of Asia.
The new banking license was issued to Deen Banking Corporation Ltd, which has subsequently been renamed Century Banking Corporation Ltd, a joint venture between the Mauritius Leasing Company Ltd and a leading Qatari bank, which is investing in the project through a Maltese company structure. The Mauritius Leasing Company, part of the British American Investment Group, has for some time offered Shari’ah compliant leasing products under an Ijarah structure. The license issued is a general banking license which allows the entity to undertake both retail and investment banking activities. It is believed that Century Banking Corporation will focus on investment banking activity primarily in Africa.
This is the first new banking license to have been issued in Mauritius since 2007 when AfrAsia Bank came into being as a boutique corporate and private bank under the leadership of Canadian CEO James Benoit.
About US$1 trillion in assets around the world is managed in accordance with Islamic principles, representing a small portion of the total financial assets managed worldwide.
“But Islamic finance is growing by between 15% and 20% per annum. This means that the opportunity is abundant for any institution or country venturing into Islamic finance and we are proud to begin our journey today tapping into one of the fastest growing industry globally,” the finance minister said.