Bahrain's Al Baraka Islamic bank sees new scope to expand

Bahrain-based Islamic lender Al Baraka expects at least 15 percent growth in net profit this year as its business recovers across a region hit by the Arab Spring unrest. The growth will also be fuelled by the company's entry into the Moroccan and Libyan markets and expansion in Tunisia. In Syria, where the bank has 10 branches, it has not been able to expand operations since the 2011 start of the civil war. The bank's fast growing 30-branch Algerian subsidiary has now captured nearly 5 percent of the country's foreign trade business and plans are under way for further expansion. The lender hopes to expand its global branch network from a current 480 to around 560 branches by end of 2014, with half of the 84 new branches opened in Turkey and Pakistan. The focus of expansion remains fast growth areas in the Middle East and Asia such as Pakistan and Indonesia because the Gulf is overbanked.