Summit News

SG Private Banking eyes Middle East expansion

Pierre Baer, CEO of Singapore and Southeast Asia for Societe Generale Private Banking, speaks during the Reuters Wealth Management Summit in Singapore, October 13, 2008. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

* More offices in Middle East possible

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Societe Generale Group's SOGN.PA private banking arm may open more offices in the Middle East, in addition to its present operations in Dubai, to meet rising demand for sharia assets in the region, a top official said on Monday.

The market for Islamic investments remains largely focused in the Middle East, with demand still yet to catch on in a big way in Asia, said Pierre Baer, SG Private Banking’s chief executive for Singapore and South Asia.

Baer said SG was considering three locations to expand in the Middle East but declined to elaborate.

“What we’ve found is that non-Islamic clients tend not to buy Islamic products,” Baer told the Reuters Wealth Management Summit in Singapore, adding that this could be caused by a lack of understanding about how the industry works.

Sharia investing follows Islamic law, which stipulates that money is a capital to be invested, rather than lent out to earn interest.

The $1 trillion Islamic industry favors ethical investments and shuns gains made from alcohol, gambling and pornography. The sector has been boosted by a jump in oil earnings by Gulf exporters.