By John Irish
DUBAI, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Three Gulf Arab banks will launch a specialised bank to finance infrastructure projects, an agriculture firm and a hospitality fund as rapid growth in the Middle East and North Africa lures billions in new investment.
The consortium aims to set up three new Islamic financial institutions with total starting capital of $2.8 billion and authorisation to raise up to $10 billion to invest in roads, sewage treatment, farms, schools and the hospitality industry.
The ambitious plans, the latest in a string of multi-billion-dollar projects, come as a five-fold rise in oil prices since 2002 fuels breakneck growth in the energy exporting nations of the Gulf, Middle East and North Africa.
Project leader Gulf Finance House, the Bahraini Islamic investment bank, said it would launch a specialised investment bank called InfraCapital to tap an expected $545 billion in projects in the world’s biggest oil-exporting region. “These are megasized projects with long gestation periods and it requires specialised institutions that can invest large amounts of capital and can syndicate and can manage complexity,” Mehran Jamsheer, Gulf Finance House deputy chief executive, told Reuters by telephone Wednesday.
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