The Middle East’s largest bank in terms of assets, Emirates NBD, has chosen Singapore as the location for its first branch in the Asia Pacific region, saying it has confidence both in Singapore’s financial infrastructure and the area’s future growth. It plans to increase the flow of investment and trade between Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, finding opportunities on the debt and capital markets as well as in investment banking.

Emirates NBD will also focus on wealth management for high net worth individuals (HNWI) from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the bank’s traditional customer base, looking to manage their assets offshore in Singapore. Once established, it will also be targeting HNWIs in Asia, who may be interested in MENA but have suffered from a lack of information and opportunity in the past.

The bank also has strong Islamic banking credentials and will no doubt seek to maximize interaction between Muslim communities and Shariah compliant businesses of Southeast Asia and those in the Middle East. Subsidiary Emirates Islamic Bank operates 30 branches in the UAE, and is the country’s third largest Islamic bank.

Emirates NBD is headquartered in Dubai and has significant operations in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UK and Iran. It was formed in October 2007 from a merger between Emirates Bank and the National Bank of Dubai, and has assets totaling AED 281.6 billion (US$76.6 billion).

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