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[LONDON] Standard Chartered remains committed to Islamic banking and expects growth in its core markets, a spokesman for the lender said on Sunday, after the head of its Islamic arm departed.
Afaq Khan left Standard Chartered Saadiq, the lender's global Islamic banking business, after 12 years with the Asia-focused bank to take a career break, the spokesman said. A successor will be announced in due course, he added.
His departure follows the naming of the group's new chief executive, Bill Winters, who is expected to oversee a shakeup when he takes over in June in a bid to reverse a two-year slump. "Standard Chartered remains committed to our Islamic banking business, and we continue to position ourselves for further growth in the core markets where the largest Islamic banking opportunities exist," the spokesman said.
The core markets include Bahrain, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, where Standard Chartered offers personal banking services, the spokesman said.
The bank also offers structured finance for businesses in Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, the United States, Brunei, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Indonesia, Pakistan, Singapore and the United Kingdom, according to the Standard Chartered Saadiq website.
The bank arranged US$20 billion in Islamic financing for its customers in 2013, a rise of US$3 billion from 2012, according to its 2013 annual report, the latest available.
But Standard Chartered is scaling down parts of its global business under a cost-cutting drive. In January, it announced plans to shut its global equities business and axe 4,000 jobs in retail banking.
Competition is intense in Islamic banking, especially in the Gulf where a number of cash-rich local lenders operate.
HSBC, another British bank, announced in 2012 that except for wholesale banking operations, it would no longer offer Islamic products in Britain, the UAE, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Singapore and Mauritius.
Mr Khan is the second senior figure to depart from Standard Chartered Saadiq. Wasim Saifi, global head of Islamic retail clients, left the bank late last year. He was also the chief executive of Standard Chartered Saadiq, Malaysia.