CORRECTED-Islamic investment banks in Gulf eye slimmed-down future

The financial crisis has changed the focus for Bahraini investment banks away from bumper projects and the preference now is for slimmer balance sheets, according to GFH founder Essam Janahi, who last week stepped down as chairman. GFH has now reduced its liabilities to $223 million, from over $2 billion at the peak of the crisis, and is rolling out a more conservative strategy. Future investments will shy away from aggressive rates of return and favour smaller deals to better manage risk, Janahi said. Even some Islamic investment banks which rode out the global crisis fairly comfortably have streamlined their operations and say they will not spurn relatively small deals. Qatar's QInvest for example has streamlined operations and discontinued areas such as wealth management and brokerage services.