Liquid Real Estate Awards 2008: Best commercial bank, Middle East
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Liquid Real Estate Awards 2008: Best commercial bank, Middle East

Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank’s real estate interests are not confined to the Gulf region. It is a growing powerhouse in property investment in Europe and an established force in Islamic mortgages in the UK. Elliot Wilson reports.

AUB builds far and wide

Ahli United Bank, a pan-Middle Eastern lender with branches and divisions from Cairo to London, is slowly, steadily, making its name in the global real estate market. It’s still far behind such institutions as Australia’s Macquarie, or investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, but the Bahrain-based bank is gaining a reputation for being a solid, long-term investor and partner in the global property industry. The bank ranked first for investment and commercial banking for the Middle East North Africa region in this year’s Liquid Real Estate poll. Few Gulf-region lenders can touch AUB for size or scale. In July 2008, it posted a 40.5% rise in first-half group earnings, to $211.7 million. The bank noted that the growth in core earnings resulted from higher net interest margins thanks to a "prudently managed asset profile" supplemented by accretive fees and commission income, with a large chunk of that asset profile increasingly coming from its investments in the real estate sector in the Middle East and Europe, including the UK.

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