Kuwait Finance House Plans to Expand in Malaysia

Kuwait Finance House, the Persian Gulf's largest Islamic investment bank, plans to expand in Malaysia even after failing in a bid to control Rashid Hussain Bhd., the nation's fourth-largest bank.

The company will grow organically and open more branches in Malaysia, Salman Younis, head of Kuwait Finance's Malaysian division, said at an investment conference in Kuala Lumpur today. It's also interested in Rashid's Islamic finance assets if ``given the opportunity,'' he said.

Rising demand for services in Asia, home to almost half of the world's population, is attracting Middle Eastern investors to the region. Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries have also been encouraging companies to introduce more products that comply with Islamic law to lift their share of an estimated $400 billion market worldwide.

Kuwait Finance's offer for Utama Banking Group Bhd.'s 33 percent stake in Rashid Hussain, Malaysia's fourth-largest financial services company, was rejected this month.

The company is also looking at opportunities in Indonesia and has spoken with the Indonesian central bank, he said. It also plans to invest in Asian plantations, he added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Soraya Permatasari in Kuala Lumpur at soraya@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Jordan at tjordan3@bloomberg.net.

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