Albaraka Bank taps Misys for Islamic banking and branch automation

Albaraka Bank Limited, the South African subsidiary of Bahrain-based Albaraka Banking Group B.S.C. (ABG) last year initiated an intensive project to replace its core banking system with the Equation Islamic Banking and Branch Automation System from Misys Plc., contributing to an improvement in the bank’s competitive edge.

The multi-million Rand IT solution is in line with the bank’s holding company’s strategic direction and is being rolled out to select ABG subsidiaries around the world, inclusive of the South African banking operation. ABG is widely regarded as the world’s leading Islamic banking group with units in 12 countries and a global branch network of some 300 branches.

Albaraka Bank Limited was established in 1989 and has pioneered Islamic banking in South Africa as an alternative to conventional interest-based financial services provision and is the country’s only fully-fledged Islamic bank.

Commenting on the systems change, Albaraka Bank’s Information Technology Manager, Mr Naushaad Khan, said: “The acquisition of the Equation Islamic Banking and Branch Automation System was the result of the existing core banking system, which supported our business requirements, having reached the end of its life-cycle. Importantly, we have identified tremendous opportunities for leveraging the functionalities and systems automation offered by Equation in terms of Islamic banking, which will contribute strategically to the bank’s competitive edge.”

The bank’s equation project was launched towards the end of 2008, with phase one implementation taking place during the second quarter of this year. Phase two will follow later this year once the core systems have been successfully bedded down.

With dramatic increases in the cost of doing business during recent years, Albaraka Bank’s migration to the Equation banking system will realise a reduction in business costs through the automation of processes and the attendant positive contribution of operational efficiencies throughout the bank’s business environment. In addition, it is anticipated that the system’s Relationship Management tools will enable staff to enjoy a 360 degree view of customer profiles and dealings with the bank, so leading to significantly improved levels of customer service, while the delivery of Islamic banking products and services in a timely and flexible manner will contribute appreciably to the bank’s product innovation capabilities.

Misys Plc., a United Kingdom-based company with a global footprint, was responsible for the provision of the Equation banking system solution. The company provides integrated, comprehensive solutions that deliver significant results to organisations in the financial services and health-care industries.

Mr Roy Froud, Regional Director: Misys Middle East and Africa, said of the bank’s migration to Equation: “Albaraka Bank is one of the world’s leading Islamic banking specialists and is dedicated to making sure that all its customer needs are satisfied as it continues to grow internationally. We are delighted to be able to help it meet those demands and, in particular, the Islamic banking requirements in South Africa after our successes in other parts of the banking group. The strength of our relationship with Albaraka Bank has been demonstrated in many ways; from numerous ABG-related banks in five countries across the Middle East and Africa signing with Misys during the past two years, to both parties working hard towards adding more sites to the current portfolio.”

He added: “The co-operation between Albaraka Bank and ourselves is a further example of how we may help innovative financial institutions maintain their competitive edge and serve their customers, underpinned by Misys Equation.”

In banking, treasury and capital markets, Misys is a market leader, with more than 1 200 customers, including all of the world’s top-50 banks. Misys currently employs some 6 000 people, serving customers in more than 120 countries. The company aspires to be the world’s best application software and services company, delivering results for the most important industries in the world.

Albaraka Bank Limited’s South African footprint is set to expand this year to encompass six full-scale branches and four corporate business operations. The bank’s head office is located in Durban, with branches in Durban, Fordsburg and Lenasia in Johannesburg, Laudium in Pretoria, and Athlone in Cape Town. Corporate business offices are currently located in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, with Gauteng coming on stream later this year.

source misys

Qatar Bank Buys Polish Shipyards

The “mystery” buyer of the shipyards in Gdynia and Szczecin has been officially revealed to be QInvest, Qatar’s largest investment bank. The purchase effectively saves the shipyards from the threat of bankruptcy that had been hanging over them since the European Commission ordered them late last year to pay back past state aid. Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad identified the investor to the press on Tuesday, more than a month after a majority stake in the shipyards was auctioned off for roughly PLN 380 mln. At that time, the buyer was identified as United International Trust, acting on behalf of Stichting Particulier Fonds Greenrights (SPFG), a company based in the Dutch Antilles.

New details about the purchase were made available after the terms of the deal were finalized. According to these, QInvest will receive financing from the Qatar Islamic Bank, its largest stakeholder and one of the world’s largest Islamic banks.

The new owner will take control of the shipyards after it makes payment to the Polish government on July 21.

A Warsaw-based company called Polskie Stocznie has been set up to run the combined operations of the two shipyards. SPFG president Jan Ruurd De Jonge will head the new company, with a Pole running each of the shipyards.

At a press conference on Wednesday, he explained that Polskie Stocznie aims to produce three to four ships annually in Gdynia, including ships for transporting liquid natural gas. The Szczecin shipyard will produce off-shore vessels, like those used to service drilling platforms, as well as steel construction elements. De Jonge said that the new company will employ only part of the current workforce at the shipyards and that the actual numbers would depend on the number of orders received. “I don’t want to make an empty promise, but eventually we want to have 2,000 people working in Gdynia and 3,000 in Szczecin,” he said.

The future of the shipyards is linked to an agreement signed last week with Qatar for Poland to import 1 mln tones of liquefied natural gas annually over the next 20 years. The contract, worth some USD 550 mln a year, sees deliveries to Poland’s LNG terminal in Świnoujscie beginning in 2014.

Talking to reporters De Jonge said that six to eight tankers will be used to transport the gas to Poland, and these will be built in Gdynia. Parts for the terminal itself would also likely be produced at the shipyards, he said.

Jan Guminski, head of the OPZZ union at the Gdynia shipyards expressed his reservations about the plans announced to build 3-4 gas tankers. “That is not enough to take full advantage of this facility’s capabilities,” he told Gazeta Wyborcza.

Both shipyards shut down production after the EC ruled in November 2008 that they be sold to recoup hundreds of millions of Euros in illegal public aid. Some 9,000 workers were laid off as a result.

source polishexpress