AmCapital's launch shows Brunei's financial strength
By Amin Hosni

AmBank Group has made its entry into Brunei Darussalam with the opening of its subsidiary called AmCapital (B) Sdn Bhd, which is in line with its regional expansion plans to bring its expertise in funds management, Islamic finance and investment advisory to the Sultanate.

The ceremony was held yesterday at the DAR Takaful IBB Utama building, Jalan Pemancha in the capital.

YAM Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Wadood Bolkiah, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abd Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Brunei's Minister of Finance II, Tan Sri Dato' Azman Hashim, Chairman AmBank Group, Board of Directors from AmCapital, and guests comprising captains of the industries in Brunei and also the diplomatic community were present.

Pehin Dato Abd Rahman said, as one of the leading financial service providers in Malaysia, AmCapital's presence here is a testimony to their high level of confidence in Brunei as a capable and competitive jurisdiction.

"It shows a strong support for our aspiration and vision to develop Brunei as an international financial centre, in particular our noble pursuit to create a vibrant and favourable capital market.

"I am certain that your presence here will add to the vitality of our financial community in Brunei Darussalam in the provision of asset and fund management business into the country," said the minister adding that AmCapital has the opportunity to explore various opportunities in the investment management of retirees fund, mutual funds or insurance to help promote savings and investment culture in the country.

He further reiterated that Brunei is committed to providing a favourable business environment that supports the asset and fund management industry. "With many lessons learnt from the current global financial crisis, continuous efforts and great care have been undertaken to facilitate the development of a sound capital market industry," he added.

Pehin Dato Abd Rahman said His Majesty's government is working towards establishing and improving the essential infrastructure through regular reviews of the legal and regulatory framework.

"Coupled with its political stability and strong economic fundamentals, Brunei Darussalam has the potential to become one of the preferred and credible regional fund management centres."

Global and regional fund managers that set up their operations in Brunei jurisdiction can enjoy a flexible regime which permits sourcing funds, both from outside and within the country, said Pehin Dato Abd Rahman.

"In addition, several incentive packages have been introduced that are designed to attract market players to establish their local presence here, in particular fund managers and investment advisers. Incentives, such as tax exemption, are intended to facilitate and expedite the growth and strengthen the local fund and asset management industry," he added.

Brunei Darussalam aspires as well as welcomes those who are venturing into sectors in the Islamic finance market such as takaful and sukuk in line with our efforts to promote this country as another Islamic financial centre, said the minister and added that the commitment to introduce products and services of highest quality and diversity may create a more vibrant environment and sustain the growth of Brunei Darussalam.

Tan Sri Dato' Azman said that despite the current economic uncertainty, AmBank has noted that the financial markets in Brunei have maintained a steady momentum and external market participants are setting up operations or expanding their franchises in the country. He viewed the strategic entry into the Brunei market as timely as well as significant.

"We see Brunei as an excellent market for more Syariah compliant product development, especially in the areas of wealth management for individuals or private equity investments. It is also well recognised that Islamic products offer excellent potential, therefore adding depth and breadth to the banking infrastructure in Brunei," he added.

AmCapital (B) Sdn Bhd was a locally incorporated company and licensed by the Brunei International Financial Centre (BIFC). It received its licence in September 2008 and began operations on December 9, 2008.

"In fuelling the growth of financial markets in Brunei, AmCapital is pleased to work closely with Brunei International Financial Centre's (BIFC) initiatives," Tan Sri Dato' Azman said.

With the launching of the AmCapital in Brunei Darussalam, there are now altogether 14 investment advisors licensed by the Brunei International Financial Centre under the Securities Order 2001.

It also marks the expansion of AmBank Group's regional network as it currently operates in Jakarta and Singapore, providing stock broking services and corporate advisory.

AmCapital (B) Sdn Bhd is located on the ground floor of DAR Takaful IBB Utama building Jalan Pemancha.

Established in 1975, AmBank is the fifth largest financial services group in Malaysia (by assets, as of December 31, 2008) and comprises AMMB Holdings Berhad and its subsidiaries AmInvestment Bank Group, AmBank, AmIslamic Bank and AmInsurance.

The group provides a wide range of investment banking, commercial banking, retail financing and related financial services, which also include Islamic banking, underwriting of general and life insurance, stock, share and futures broking, investment advisory as well as asset, property and unit trust management. - Borneo Bulletin (12th May 2009)