KFH board recommends 20% capital hike to fund expansion Lender needs approval from current shareholders, regulator

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 27, (Agencies): Kuwait Finance House (KFH) board decided during its meeting on November 26th to increase its capital by 20%. The share price and the premium will be determined later after obtaining necessary approvals from supervisory authorities. This increase serves to assist in achieving approved strategy objectives as part of KFH five-year plan 2012-2016, in addition to supporting its local and global expansion efforts. KFH Chairman Mohammed Al-Khodairi said that the board’s decision coincides with the bank’s plans to expand locally and globally, and goes hand-in-hand with the restructuring program ongoing at KFH. He added that the increase in capital also cements KFH’s financial portfolio, and plays a prominent role in financing projects in Kuwait and the region.

KFH is considered to currently be one of the biggest Islamic bank in the world, and is the first Islamic bank to operate in Kuwait since 1978. The bank has extensive experience in investments, financing companies and individuals, and banking services. In addition, KFH is well-known in Kuwait and worldwide in the field of real estate and direct investment projects. In 2011, KFH reviewed its operations in collaboration with Booz & Company, and other international experts in the management field, in order to reinforce KFH’s competitive ability in Kuwait and worldwide, not to mention underlining KFH’s globally leading status in the field of Islamic banking services and products.

Moreover, Al-Khodairi mentioned that KFH’s new strategy is based on maintaining the bank’s heritage and reputation as the most trusted Islamic bank globally, in addition to granting shareholders and depositors steady profit. In order to reach that goal, KFH focuses on improving operations and risk management. He added that the plan is based on cementing KFH’s position in the local market in the retail field through developing and improving products and services for its clients. In addition, the bank will also improve services in all branches. In the corporate field, KFH will seek to increase its share in strategic sectors. The bank’s new strategy depends on strengthening the bank’s investment abilities through focusing on profitable and income producing assets, which is what prompted KFH to restructure its investment portfolio. The new strategy is based on improving coordination with KFH’s subsidiaries in Malaysia, Bahrain, and Turkey, as well as other key areas, to achieve best level of sustainable profits. KFH is currently embarking on a two-year restructuring plan that focuses on improving the bank’s internal abilities and level of services offered to clients, such as upgrading technology and making investments in the human resources field through efficient incentives.

Shares in KFH were up 1.2 percent at 0.82 dinars at 0705 GMT, trimming year-to-date losses to 1.6 percent.
Kuwaiti banks have suffered since the global financial crisis because of exposures to the local real estate and stock markets whose values have dropped significantly, as well as to investment firms which borrowed heavily in the boom years to finance activity in the two areas. In September, Fitch Ratings said it had downgraded KFH’s viability rating because of concerns over asset quality and loan concentration at the lender, while its Tier 1 capital — a key measure of a bank’s reserves — lagged its Kuwaiti peers. However, the agency said at the time a planned capital hike to bolster reserves would be a positive step. In November, Moody’s placed all of KFH’s ratings on review for possible downgrade, with concerns over asset quality also central to the move.

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