Rasmala plans to double assets to $3 billion in three years

Rasmala plans to more than double its assets in three years to US$3 billion through acqui­sitions and offering new products such as UAE real estate and credit funds, its chief executive said yesterday.

The Dubai-based investment bank, whose assets trebled to $1.2bn last year from $400 million in 2012, has a war chest of $100m to snap up assets. It could raise another $100m to finance potential acqui­sitions.

“Our focus over the last few years was on product innovation and bringing out new products and we will continue this. However, the focus in the coming few years will also be on the growth of our assets under management,” said Zak Hydari, the chief executive. “We are aiming to get to $3bn over the next three years, either through organic growth or through acquisitions.”

Rasmala believes it is a good time to acquire companies because of the volatility in the market, which may lead some to struggle to stand on their own feet.

“We are very interested in the region, particularly in the UAE,” said Mr Hydari. “The UAE and the Gulf are very important areas for us because many of our clients are based there. However, we are open to opportunities in the wider Mena region, for example Egypt.”

In 2014, Rasmala boosted its stake in its Egyptian unit to 100 per cent from 51 per cent as it targeted growth in the most populous Arab country.

Rasmala has a range of products – from real estate to trade finance – and is looking to introduce two more this year.

The bank will launch a UAE real estate fund with a size of at least Dh500m and list it in the future as a real estate investment trust (Reit), a security that invests in property and is traded on stock exchanges.

“The UAE real estate market is dominated by private investors or big families that have large private portfolios,” said Mr Hydari. “It can at times be difficult for international and regional institutional investors to gain access to a more structured investment exposure to the UAE real estate market.” Rasmala will also launch a credit fund this year to take advan­tage of banks’ reluctance to lend to mid-market companies. Its target size is between Dh300m and Dh400m.

“We are looking to provide structured lending solutions via our funds to mid-market companies where some banks are no longer providing that service,” said Mr Hydari. “Due to a mix of increased regulation and higher capital buffers, some banks are now exiting areas of business that they no longer feel are as profitable as before.”


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