Money put to work in Islamic finance

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Mahesh P Rupawalla, CEOAs a leading Malaysian investment banking group, Hwang DBS provides a wide range of investment products. It also looks for closer partnerships to GCC investors and is planning to increase its Sharia-compliant portfolio.

Interviewee: Mahesh P Rupawalla, CEO

Q: Could you give a brief overview of your company, at present and historically?

A: 34 years ago, the company was founded as a universal broker for corporate finance, listings, IPOs, and corporate advisory. In 2007, we became an investment bank, which means we could offer the full range of investment banking services, including banking deposits, loans, and also treasury market products. Hwang DBS Malaysia is a holding company. It has operating subsidiaries, where one of them is Hwang DBS, definitely the largest, which operates in universal banking. In our consumer financing segment, our business is about small personal loans. We have also an Islamic banking joint venture, which basically issues Islamic bonds in Malaysia. That’s the group. Our largest shareholder is a Chinese family from Penang who owns just under 33 per cent. The next largest shareholder is the Bank of Singapore with about 28 per cent. We’ve got 16 branches in Malaysia, including East Malaysia. In Cambodia we own a commercial bank. The idea was to work on some operations there. We start looking at investment banking in Cambodia. We haven’t grown too much regionally so far.

Q: What kinds of investment products do you offer?

A: Most of our products are basically within our unique trust and direct investments into equities in Malaysia. In terms of stockbroking, we are big. A lot of it involves domestic institutions. Foreign institutions have to deal with brokers in Singapore, and a lot of it gets put through to us.

Q: What about Shariah compliant products?

A: Our investments will be Shariah-compliant. I don’t have many details because that is under our asset management branch.  Most of it is actually domestic investments. What is on offer in Malaysia does not always meet the Shariah requirements of GCC investments. There are a lot of Shariah bonds here, but GCC investors might say ‘no.’ But I think there is a lot of GCC interest in Malaysia. The trend before was for banks to set up Islamic banks in the GCC.  Now we want GCC customers to come here, so we have set up an Islamic bank in Singapore together with GCC investors who own 49 per cent and will add up to 61 per cent in an eight-year plan. We’ve got investors who come and visit us here, but we don’t get enough of the investment. Now I am thinking of properties, as they like properties. The GCC guys are not new to the market, just look at Qatar Finance House: they have been here for a long time. We need to show them new opportunities beyond finance and property, for example in health care or education.

Q: What are other opportunities for investors?

A: I think there a lot of opportunities in the oil and gas sector and in tourism. The government needs to take the lead in bringing in GCC investors who’ve got the experience. If somebody can come up with a landmark of ideas, I think those are things that can sell. We understand the GCC investors, and we’ll be able to cooperate with them. We want to build long-term relationships, and that’s why we want to be their trusted advisor.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

As a leading Malaysian investment banking group, Hwang DBS provides a wide range of investment products. It also looks for closer partnerships to GCC investors and is planning to increase its Sharia-compliant portfolio.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Mahesh P Rupawalla, CEOAs a leading Malaysian investment banking group, Hwang DBS provides a wide range of investment products. It also looks for closer partnerships to GCC investors and is planning to increase its Sharia-compliant portfolio.

Interviewee: Mahesh P Rupawalla, CEO

Q: Could you give a brief overview of your company, at present and historically?

A: 34 years ago, the company was founded as a universal broker for corporate finance, listings, IPOs, and corporate advisory. In 2007, we became an investment bank, which means we could offer the full range of investment banking services, including banking deposits, loans, and also treasury market products. Hwang DBS Malaysia is a holding company. It has operating subsidiaries, where one of them is Hwang DBS, definitely the largest, which operates in universal banking. In our consumer financing segment, our business is about small personal loans. We have also an Islamic banking joint venture, which basically issues Islamic bonds in Malaysia. That’s the group. Our largest shareholder is a Chinese family from Penang who owns just under 33 per cent. The next largest shareholder is the Bank of Singapore with about 28 per cent. We’ve got 16 branches in Malaysia, including East Malaysia. In Cambodia we own a commercial bank. The idea was to work on some operations there. We start looking at investment banking in Cambodia. We haven’t grown too much regionally so far.

Q: What kinds of investment products do you offer?

A: Most of our products are basically within our unique trust and direct investments into equities in Malaysia. In terms of stockbroking, we are big. A lot of it involves domestic institutions. Foreign institutions have to deal with brokers in Singapore, and a lot of it gets put through to us.

Q: What about Shariah compliant products?

A: Our investments will be Shariah-compliant. I don’t have many details because that is under our asset management branch.  Most of it is actually domestic investments. What is on offer in Malaysia does not always meet the Shariah requirements of GCC investments. There are a lot of Shariah bonds here, but GCC investors might say ‘no.’ But I think there is a lot of GCC interest in Malaysia. The trend before was for banks to set up Islamic banks in the GCC.  Now we want GCC customers to come here, so we have set up an Islamic bank in Singapore together with GCC investors who own 49 per cent and will add up to 61 per cent in an eight-year plan. We’ve got investors who come and visit us here, but we don’t get enough of the investment. Now I am thinking of properties, as they like properties. The GCC guys are not new to the market, just look at Qatar Finance House: they have been here for a long time. We need to show them new opportunities beyond finance and property, for example in health care or education.

Q: What are other opportunities for investors?

A: I think there a lot of opportunities in the oil and gas sector and in tourism. The government needs to take the lead in bringing in GCC investors who’ve got the experience. If somebody can come up with a landmark of ideas, I think those are things that can sell. We understand the GCC investors, and we’ll be able to cooperate with them. We want to build long-term relationships, and that’s why we want to be their trusted advisor.

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