Kuwait's Warba Bank plans $500 mln sukuk issue this year - CEO   

KUWAIT CITY, July 3 (Reuters) - Warba Bank, a Kuwaiti sharia-compliant lender, is working to set up a sukuk, or Islamic bond, programme of up to $2 billion, the bank’s chief executive officer told Reuters, with plans for an initial $500 million issuance this year.

CEO Shaheen Al-Ghanem said the programme is subject to central bank approval. After the initial issuance this year, the rest would be issued over the next few years as needed and the proceeds used to finance operational matters.

The Islamic lender is looking to start a new asset management business this year aimed at overseeing about $500 million in investments within the next three years, said Ghanem.

Its launch is awaiting final approval from the Kuwait Capital Markets authority, Ghanem said.

“The Islamic market for asset management is in need, because the products in the market do not satisfy the ambitions of customers,” said Ghanem.

The bank is looking to increase its total assets to over 3.5 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($11.52 billion) by 2022 from 2.59 billion dinars at the end of the first quarter this year.

Ghanem said the bank is competing to lead a 350 million Kuwaiti dinar ($1.15 billion) loan for Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) that will likely involve multiple banks.

“We have a desire to have a good share in it,” said Ghanem.

KPC was not immediately available to comment on the financing request.

Warba Bank’s profits jumped in the first quarter of 2019, with profit attributable to shareholders rising to 3.8 million dinars from 2.9 million dinars a year earlier and operating revenues rising to 14.2 million dinars from 10.9 million dinars. ($1 = 0.3038 Kuwaiti dinars) (Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy Writing by Eric Knecht, editing by Deepa Babington)