Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia has launched its own Islamic bank, Standard Chartered Saadiq Berhad.

The new wholly-owned subsidiary aims to meet the rising demand for Shariah compliant products and services in Malaysia. The opening makes StanChart is one of the few international banks to launch a dedicated Islamic financial centre.

The bank has invested an initial amount of M$50mn to establish the bank which includes the opening of its flagship financial centre in Taman Tun, in Kuala Lumpur. Over the next 12 months, another three centres are expected to be opened. The Islamic bank will provide a wide range of Islamic financial products, from property, personal finance and corporate finance.

“Islamic banking is of strategic importance to Standard Chartered Group as the industry grows from strength-to-strength. It furthers our strategic intent to be the best international bank in Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” comments Afaq Khan, chief executive officer at Standard Chartered.

Islamic financial services are one of the fastest growing fields in the banking and finance industry. A recent McKinsey & Co report states that Islamic banking assets and assets under management reached US$750bn in 2006, and the Islamic finance sector is expected to reach US$1tn by 2010.

“It is not only timely but also makes perfect sense for us to expand our Islamic banking business in Malaysia. We have a long heritage in Malaysia and coupled with our international expertise and deep roots in Muslim countries, we have the unique opportunity to play an active role in the growth of the country’s Islamic financial services and serve Muslim and non-Muslim customers,” adds Julian Wynter, managing director and chief executive officer for Standard Chartered Malaysia Berhad.