Islamic banks seek realistic ambitions

The financial crisis changed the focus of Bahraini investment banks away from bumper projects and the preference now is for slimmer balance sheets, according to GFH founder Essam Janahi, who last week stepped down as chairman. GFH has now reduced its liabilities to $223 million, from over $2bn at the peak of the crisis, and is rolling out a more conservative strategy. Future investments will shy away from aggressive rates of return and favour smaller deals to better manage risk, Mr Janahi said. Bahraini firm Arcapita filed for bankruptcy protection in a New York court in March last year, emerging from Chapter 11 last month with a five-year plan to sell legacy assets to pay creditors. Last week, the reorganised firm appointed a new seven-man board of directors that includes a representative from Bahrain's central bank and the chief executive of Bank Alkhair.