The rise of Shariah banking should be a concern to everyone interested in democracy. This is not a site to promote the spread of Islamic banking, but one that is showing the rise of Islam into everyday life. The USA has no more than 2 million Muslims, but the banking system is being adjusted to accommodate the few and not the majority. While regular banking still will be provided, the bending of rules is disconcerting. Why has no other religion demanded these changes when they move into other societies? Why do we have to change after hundreds of years of doing business with many cultures, who never before asked for special treatement. The issue is SHARIAH and the laws that go along with it. This is a war of cultures which starts in our banking system, enters our government, and then daily life. I do not applaud the actions of the institutions that are allowing this type of system, and urge concerned citizens to get active in their local politics to stress that we need to make sure that any institution that is Shariah compliant issue transparency, full disclosure, and that the ZAKAT, or charity is invested in the host country with approved charities, not into potential terrorist activities.

(Comments by Allyson Rowen Taylor)

Financial Times

HSBC wants sub-Saharan Africa expansion

By Jane Croft in London

Published: March 14 2008 02:00 | Last updated: March 14 2008 02:00

HSBC is looking at expanding its presence in subSaharan Africa as the region becomes increasingly significant for its Asian and Indian clients.The UK’s largest bank has a small operation in South Africa but Sandy Flockhart, chief executive of HSBC’s Asian region, said it was an area the bank was looking to expand in.”We would like to be a bigger player in Africa going forward,” he said. “As an emerging markets bank it is a logical place for us to be. We might consider opening representative offices so we get to know the countries . . . we did that in Latin America to some extent.”Mr Flockhart said HSBC’s operation in Mauritius, for example, did a lot of business for companies in India and Africa.HSBC, which is focusing on emerging markets, reported group profits of $24.2bn in 2007. About half of that came from Asia-Pacific, compared with 34 per cent in 2006 – although much of this was because HSBC’s North America operation last year contributed almost nothing to profits.

HSBC’s profits in Taiwan rose 635 per cent last year to $123m, and it had good growth in South Korea, where profits rose 108 per cent to $123m. In China, its mainland network and associated pre-tax profit exceeded $1bn for the first time. In Hong Kong, pre-tax profit rose to $7bn.

The bank said it wanted to expand in India, where it has 47 branches, and was hopeful opportunities would come up in 2009, when the market starts to liberalise.

In South Korea, HSBC is waiting for regulatory approval to buy a 51 per cent stake in KEB from Lone Star, the US private equity group. Its offer will expire on April 30 if it has not been approved. Officials at South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Commission have said they do not expect any decision to be made by then.

Mr Flockhart would not be drawn on whether HSBC would seek an extension if no decision has been made by the deadline.

He added that the valuations of potential acquisition targets in Asia had not fallen dramatically, in spite of the market turmoil and added: “The opportunities to acquire are more limited than you might think.”

He said Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia were markets where acquisitions were potentially more available. HSBC also said it wanted to expand its presence in China, where it opened 14 branches last year and where it has 62 outlets in 17 cities.

“We’d like to see that double over time,” Mr Flockhart said, adding that that would depend on receiving regulatory permission.

HSBC is also opening up 25 branches in Malaysia offering Sharia-compliant products in accordance with Muslim religious laws.


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