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Bahrain: Regulator reports fund explosion

Bahrain is experiencing a mutual fund boom, according to the Bahrain Monetary Authority, which says assets under management by BMA-authorized mutual funds have grown by 55% to $8.3 billion in the past year.

Islamic funds are driving the growth – a trend that is expected to continue, BMA representatives say. Nearly 40 Islamic funds were registered by the end of March 2006, with assets under management of almost $1 billion.

Foreign interest

“The average size of Bahrain-domiciled funds authorized during 2006 was $60 million,” says Mohammed Ayman Al Tajer, director of non-bank financial institutions supervision at the BMA. “The sponsors/managers of these funds are prominent institutions from outside Bahrain, including the UK and other GCC states.” Funds authorized this year include those sponsored by Kuwait’s Gulf Investment Corporation, the UAE’s Mashreqbank, Unicorn Investment Bank of Bahrain, and DTZ Finance from the UK.

There were 92 locally incorporated mutual funds in Bahrain at the end of March, compared with 63 at the same time in 2005, and just 28 in 2002.

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