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Kuwait's KFH expands to Australia, Singapore-CNBC

KUWAIT, July 14 (Reuters) - Islamic lender Kuwait Finance House KFIN.KW (KFH), the country's biggest bank by market value, is expanding into Australia and Singapore as competition is rising at home, its chief executive said.

“This expansion is through (our) Malaysian (unit) ... It set up a representative office in Australia and Singapore for wealth management,” Mohammad al-Omar told CNBC Arabiya.

The bank, which is expanding in the Gulf, Middle East and Asia, expects profits from its overseas operations to contribute continuously to its overall profit.

“I expect between 30 to 35 percent (of total profits) ... and we expect (it) to continue,” Omar said in the interview with the television channel, a copy of which was made available to Reuters on Monday.

KFH, the second-largest Islamic bank in the Gulf, had received “numerous” requests from governments to operate in their respective countries by setting up banks or through partnerships, Chairman Badr al-Mukhaizeem said on Sunday.

KFH, which says it operates in accordance with Islamic law, wants to expand in Turkey and is considering expansion in Hong Kong to tap booming demand for Islamic finance, Omar told Reuters in June.

KFH posted a near 29 percent rise in second-quarter profit.

Shares of KFH were down 1.44 percent on Monday, closing at 2.740 dinars. (For Reuters content on Islamic finance, click on ISLAMIC) (Reporting by Rania El Gamal and Ulf Laessing; Editing by David Cowell) ((rania.elgamal@reuters.com; +965 246 03 50; Reuters Messaging:rania.elgamal.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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