Bahraini Islamic banks urged to seek mergers

Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Governor Rasheed Al Maraj has made a renewed call to Bahraini Islamic banks to merge or acquire other institutions. In his keynote address at the opening of the 22nd Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC), he said given a tougher regulatory environment, challenges to their business model and increased competition from Islamic as well as conventional competitors, the preferred path, particularly for Islamic investment banks, was to merge in order to create institutions of size. Earlier this year, the CBB launched a new Sharia-compliant Wakala liquidity management tool aimed at absorbing excess liquidity of local Islamic retail banks. Mr Al Maraj also said the CBB is introducing a centralised Sharia Board with a broad mandate.