Gulf investors entrust Amanah Raya with US$100m fund


By B.K. SIDHU

The Dubai Bank and several institutional investors from the Gulf States have given Amanah Raya Bhd (ARB) the mandate to administer the US$100mil Gulf Infrastructure Fund, which is meant to be invested in infrastructure projects in the country. 

ARB, via its Labuan subsidiary Amanah Raya (Labuan) Ltd (ARL), will essentially provide backroom and administrative support for the fund. 

At this juncture, ARL is doing the paper work for the funds to be invested in projects. The final investment decision will be made by fund managers appointed by the Gulf States' investors. 

ARB, which has been in existence for more than 82 years, has been looking to penetrate offshore markets, which afford a lot of opportunities for trust-based services. 

ARL was set up for that reason, ARB managing director Izham Yusof said, adding that the company would be intensifying its efforts to get more business from offshore markets this year. 

After landing the Gulf Infrastructure Fund deal late last year, ARL was appointed by Perkasa Normandy Managers to provide custodial services in several key markets in the region. 

Perkasa is an investment boutique that manages private funds domestically and internationally. 

On the local front, ARB – Malaysia’s largest trust services company – also has mapped out a strategy to penetrate the corporate and retail markets. At the same time, it wants to shed its image of being a government department, and be a “corporate organisation which is consumer driven and efficient.’’ 

“Corporate-wise, we see opportunities to do backroom services. Given our operational efficiencies and record of being a corporate trustee of 61 unit trust companies with assets of RM53.1bil, we are capable of offering integrated investment services to fund management companies and investment banks at cost-effective prices. 

“We are currently in talks with several large institutions to manage their backroom offices,’’ Izham said. 

ARB also wants to be the trustee of trust funds meant for charitable purposes, to help them ensure transparency and proper accounting of funds collected and disbursed. Currently, it assists Yayasan Kebajikan and Peace Malaysia to disburse funds to needy groups. 

Izham said ARB would also embark on a programme to educate the public on the importance of estate management and financial planning, as many people were unaware of the benefits of drawing up a will. 

“The penetration rate is very low for will-writing and estate planning. We also want to address the myth that will-writing is prohibited for Muslims. It is a perception we have to change,'' he said. 

Izham said that part of ARB's education and marketing process would include setting up clinics and meet-the-people sessions. 

Currently, ARB has 20 branches. Three of them – in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor – would be converted into estate planning centres. 

Another area in which efforts would be intensified is customer service. 

But a major challenge that ARB faces is innovation. The opportunities are aplenty, but Izham said the firm needed to be more innovative. 

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