Al Rayan Bank opens new office in London to serve growing commercial finance business
Al Rayan Bank, the UK’s largest Islamic bank by assets and one of the fastest growing banks in the country, has opened a new office in Stratford Place W1, a prime location in London's West-End.
The new office is needed to support the rapid growth of the Bank’s commercial property portfolio and the expanding Commercial Property Finance team, which now consists of eleven frontline staff; after last month’s recruitment of two experienced commercial property experts who were formally with Nationwide Building Society.
Al Rayan Bank’s real estate asset book now exceeds £1.2billion, by far the largest property book of any UK Islamic bank*, and commercial property finance has become an increasingly important growth area for the Bank. Despite market nervousness in 2016, commercial property financing was the fastest growing element of Al Rayan Bank’s real estate asset book, increasing by 44% to £396.5m. Increasing its footprint in all sectors of the commercial property finance market is a strategic priority for the Bank over the coming years.
Projects financed by the Bank are varied and cover the whole UK, ranging from large residential investment private rental sector (PRS) schemes, to out of town retail parks, mixed used industrial warehouses, residential in investment schemes for smaller investors, student property as well as prime offices. In addition, the Bank has completed a number of syndication deals, enabling it to fund large scale projects such as the former Olympic village site in East London. The Bank’s client base is a mixture of corporate, family office and private investors from the UK and internationally, predominantly from Qatar and the wider GCC region.
Maisam Fazal, Head of Commercial Property Finance, Al Rayan Bank, said: “Customers chose commercial property finance from Al Rayan Bank for many reasons. For some, it is the fact that we are an Islamic bank and only offer Sharia compliant financing; for others it is our commercial approach and our highly experienced staff who can help structure transactions to suit clients’ requirements.
An example of one such client is Investra Investments Ltd, a private equity real estate investor and asset manager with offices in London and Dubai. The principals have transacted cumulatively in excess of £1 billion in real estate deals, investing in the UK and USA commercial real estate sectors. Investra maintains commercial and operational accounts with Al Rayan Bank, and utilises financing for real estate acquisition.
Zaid Randeree, CEO, Investra Investments Ltd said: “Al Rayan Bank has made it simpler for us to do business in the UK and the location of the new office is going to make it even easier. For some of our clients, Sharia compliant finance is an absolute necessity. Prior to working with Al Rayan Bank, we had to make use of conventional banks in the UK, and then subsequently apply structures to ensure that the funding was permissible. Now this is no longer an issue and we can focus our efforts on continuing to providing great service to our clients.”
As an Islamic bank, Al Rayan Bank does not use any interest-bearing products to finance customers' properties, as interest is prohibited in Islam. Instead it uses its own funds, or the savings deposits from its customers, all managed entirely in accordance with ethical, Sharia principles.
Al Rayan Bank was established in 2004 and has been a pioneer of British Islamic banking. The first wholly Sharia compliant retail bank in the UK, it has earned a reputation for providing innovative products which appeal to people of any faith. In 2016, the Bank was named as the third fastest growing bank in the UK by pre-tax by profits, in a complete financial analysis of all 155 UK incorporated banks**.
As an independent UK bank, Al Rayan Bank is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Al Rayan Bank’s new commercial office can be found at 15 Stratford Place, London W1C 1BE.
* Based on latest ‘published accounts as of May 2017
* Bank League Tables 2017, a complete financial analysis of all 155 UK incorporated banks, Searchline Publishing 2017