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Innovations in Islamic Finance 2015: Al Hilal Bank

$500 million perpetual sukuk


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Advisers: Al Hilal Bank, Citi, Emirates NBD, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Standard Chartered, Allen & Overy, Linklaters

Being the only bank in the UAE owned outright by the government of Abu Dhabi, one of the richest states in the world, Al Hilal Bank’s additional tier-1 perpetual sukuk last year understandably attracted plenty of investor interest.

Set up in 2008 by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council and now with assets of more than $10 billion, Al Hilal enjoyed annual asset growth of more than 20% in the years following the Dubai property crash – a time when other UAE banks were retrenching. “We were one of the few banks with a clean balance sheet, being a new bank,” says Lim Say Cheong, Al Hilal’s head of investment banking. “That allowed us to grow relatively rapidly.”

Despite the bank having achieved profitability from its second year of operation, Lim says the bank wanted to strengthen its capital ratio after ratings agencies highlighted it was lower than industry average – higher than the regulatory minimum, but not as high as it would be ideally, given the bank’s youth and rate of growth.

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