Gulf Finance House announces record profits of USD302 million for first nine months of 2008 
Bahrain - 2008 October 26  

Gulf Finance House has posted record profits of USD 302 million for the first nine months of the year compared to USD231 million profits recorded during the same period in 2007.

These results continue the overall trend of strong earnings growth when compared to the same period in 2007 and demonstrate the tremendous durability of GFH’s business model despite the collapse in global financial markets.

Third quarter profits of USD 82 million have been driven largely by the continued success of the Energy City Libya (ECL) business cluster – GFH’s latest economic infrastructure project. Further income was derived from GFH’s share of the net income of Khaleeji Commercial Bank, Qinvest and Bahrain Financial Harbour Investment Company.

“GFH’s strategy of producing a diverse, sustainable revenue stream is now paying off – a fact clearly demonstrated via a series of 2008 venture capital projects that include First Energy Bank and Cemena. Of course these initiatives build on GFH’s already strong and growing series of economic infrastructure projects”, said GFH Chairman Esam Janahi.

“Certainly, western equity markets have endured serious volatility and the impact of sub-prime asset classes on major western financial institutions is well documented. This phenomenon is however, of little relevance to GFH. Our strict adherence to Sharia’s compliant Islamic banking precludes both our involvement and any financial exposure. This reason, alongside strong regulation and better capitalization mean that GCC banks will emerge from this crisis in better shape than many of their western competitors.”

“At GFH, we have an investor base that remains immensely supportive and their faith in GFH’s ability to create value is undiminished. Given the strength of our capital base and a full pipeline of forthcoming projects ready and waiting, we enter the fourth quarter confident in the knowledge that it’ll be stronger than any that have gone before.“

Mehran Jamsheer, GFH’s Deputy CEO added, “We are naturally extremely pleased by the progress we’ve made in the third quarter of the year and the growth we’ve achieved throughout 2008, given the difficulty in world markets. With the vast majority of our concepts taking shape in MENA and Asia, the continued pace and anticipated growth potential of these economies allows us to be extremely optimistic about the months and years ahead.

“In step with these developments we continue to evolve our structures and processes to meet the future challenges of a growing business, while maintaining the flexibility we need to create value from the opportunities and gaps we see in the marketplace.”

“The bank maintains strong liquidity holding USD 1 billion of equity and USD 1.4 billion in cash. It is also worth noting that just over a week ago, GFH was among the six most heavily traded stocks on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. Performance of this kind was a contributing factor in GFH’s successful GDR listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2007.”

“The ongoing financial crisis has been a good reminder of the traditional virtues of sound banking. While the global economy is expected to experience a marked slowdown, the outlook for MENA will continue to be bright."

GFH pioneers unique but often unseen regional opportunities and has consistently been first mover in a host of countries across MENA and the GCC including Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. In 2008, Energy City Libya (ECL), envisioned as the primary energy hub for North Africa, became the latest in a series of energy themed infrastructure initiatives originated by GFH in addition to Energy City Qatar, Energy City India and the Caspian Energy Hub.

Beyond core infrastructure work, GFH has significantly diversified its product offering in 2008. With a track record for creating new and successful Islamic financial institutions, GFH conceived First Energy Bank (FEB) to offer uniquely intelligent solutions to the energy industry - a sector the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2007 concludes will demand USD 56 billion of investment per annum until 2030.

With vast experience in the origination of energy infrastructure initiatives, GFH will infuse FEB with a detailed intellectual property that will foster highly sought-after and tailored financial solutions.

Cemena is GFH’s response to the serious regional shortage in cement volumes required to feed the explosion in infrastructure projects. The GCC alone consumes 62 million tones of cement on an annual basis and this figure is anticipated to grow by 40% in the next five years alone.

Therefore, with the goal of producing 10% of all MENA demand for cement, Cemena underlines GFH’s belief in creating value by designing local solutions to local problems. With three major acquisitions currently being finalised, Cemena is many months ahead of schedule and is expected to begin production before the end of the year.

HadeedMENA was the product of similar thinking and given that MENA manufactures just 24 of the 35.4 million tones of steel it consumes every year, GFH is creating yet further value by addressing another regional market shortfall in a vital construction material. With a target of producing 12 million tones of steel per annum, 15% of demand across MENA, HadeedMENA will become one of the principal producers in the region.



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