By ZAIDI ISHAM ISMAIL
KUALA LUMPUR Oct 13 - Malaysia has always aspired to become the largest Islamic financial center in the world.
The country is already the world's largest sukuk (Islamic bond) issuer in the world having issued a total of RM1 billion to date.
And now, a significant development is taking place at Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd.
The country's largest Islamic bank announced last week that it is taking over the listing status of its parent BIMB Holdings Bhd.
It may look like it’s just a normal announcement but read between the lines, there is an underlying aspiration which Bank Islam wants to convey.
By taking over the listing status, it will have greater control and flexibility to manoeuvre without being shackled down by BIMB.
Similarly, BIMB's insurance arm Takaful Islam will also have its own listing status giving it more mobility.
But what does this all mean? What is the bank up too?
"It's no secret that Bank Islam has always desired to become one of the world's largest Islamic banks.
And it will be easier for Bank Islam to reach its target by grabbing the bull by its horns which is to manage the listing status on its own.
Otherwise, by being under BIMB, the bank has to go through a lot of regulatory hurdles just to get from point A to point B, a banking industry source told DagangNews.com.
On top of facilitating the shareholders on normal corporate exercises, the listing status will give Bank Islam more power to work towards its goals.
The source admitted it will be a gargantuan task for Bank Islam to grow its banking assets to RM100 billion by 2025. But not an impossible one.
This is a distant target compared to Saudi Arabia's Al-Rajhi bank which is the world's largest Islamic bank with assets of more than US$100 trillion.
Bank Islam is also far behind its compatriots in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
But this will be its first step in the right direction as it creeps closer and closer to become one of the world's top ten Islamic banks.
"Bank Islam will persevere and to be one of the world's formidable Islamic banks even if it’s going to take a long time." – DagangNews.com