Thai Islamic bank plans to up capital and sukuk

State-owned Islamic Bank of Thailand plans to increase its capital by 7.11 billion baht (US$234.9mil) and issue a 5 billion baht sukuk, the country's first-ever Islamic bond. The bank plans to issue the 5billion-baht subordinated sukuk to increase its capital ratio. Last year, bank officials said the sukuk would have a likely maturity of 5 years and the bank would appoint Malaysia's CIMB Bank to handle the deal, targeting domestic and institutional investors in Malaysia and Hong Kong. The bank expects to raise 927 million baht in capital this month and 6.2 billion baht in the fourth quarter. The bank, rated BBB by Fitch, also wants to seek investors to establish a presence in the Middle East in the next three years, while increasing its domestic network of branches to 130 from 106 now. It hopes this strategy will help it to return to profit this year and help the country's Islamic financial sector grow.