CIMB Islamic eyes moderate growth, focus on core markets: CEO

Mon Sep 9, 2013 10:39pm EDT
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By Bernardo Vizcaino

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd BUCMOC.UL, part of Southeast Asia's fifth-largest lender by assets, expects moderate levels of domestic growth as it plans to focus on core markets to maintain profitability, its chief executive told Reuters.

The modest growth expectations at CIMB Islamic, part of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd (CIMB.KL: Quote) and one of the most established names in Islamic finance, highlights the broader trend in an industry that is grappling with global economic conditions that are dampening growth prospects and profitability.

The Islamic lender saw gross financing assets increase by 13.2 percent year-on-year compared to 23.8 percent for the same period last year, according to June financials.

"This year we see our growth moderating even further, not just because we have a bigger base but it's a different market altogether," chief executive Badlisyah Abdul Ghani said in an interview at the bank's Kuala Lumpur headquarters.

"Our focus is to deepen our penetration in the existing market, making sure that we focus on customer segmentation. We want to focus on our current business activities through organic growth."

CIMB Islamic held 50.9 billion ringgit ($15.3 billion) in assets and has an overseas presence that includes Bahrain, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore.

Its consumer banking business is focused on Malaysia and Indonesia, with Indonesia in particular expected to help buoy the bank's growth if its economy expands in line with forecasts.

"In Malaysia you will not see a high growth rate like the 20 percent, but overall we will still be over 20 percent," he said.   Continued...

People withdraw cash from an automatic teller machine at a CIMB Islamic branch in Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur August 26, 2013. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad