Oct 11 2009

Malaysia's RAM Ratings seeks partnership with Qatari firms

DOHA: RAM Rating Services Berhad (RAM Ratings), Asia's leading credit rating agency based in Malaysia, is looking for possible cross-border collaborations with Qatari institutions in the areas of funding and investment, particularly in the areas of Islamic finance.

Currently, Qatari investments in Malaysia include 70 percent equity in Asian Finance Berhad and a 49 percent stake in the Pavilion Mall, both in the city of Kuala Lumpur.

"We are ready to be of service for Qatari institutions that would like to diversify their funding away from the US or Europe and tap the Malaysian bond market," Wong Fook-Wah, Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer of RAM Holdings told a news conference yesterday.

He said that over the last two to three years RAM has started to have rating clients from the Middle East. There are several institutions from the Middle East that have tapped the corporate bond market in Malaysia, including banking and utility companies, he added. These clients include Emirates Bank International , Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Gulf Investment Corporation which have already published their ratings.

"With our experience and knowledge of rating conventional bonds, we are also now developing our expertise in rating Islamic bonds which international rating agencies do not have and this is where we can also play a role," said Fook-Wah.

RAM Ratings' Chief Executive Officer Liza Mohd Noor said that the outlook for further growth, especially in the capital markets in both countries, appears robust as demand for capital rises in step with the rebound in the global economy.

"The growth is expected to continue unabated and along with it the demand for financing," she pointed out. She also highlighted that the increasing appetite for Islamic financing via sukuk has played a vital role in matching the needs of borrowers and investors, thus establishing their place in the global capital debt markets.

Promod Dass, Head of Financial Institution Ratings at RAM Ratings said, "We see issuers looking for alternatives to US dollar funding and the Ringit has proven to be an alternative during this crisis period.

RAM Ratings is in Doha as part of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) Roadshow to Qatar from October 11 to 12. The Roadshow delegation comprising regulators and industry players is led by HRH Raja Nazrin Shah Ibni Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah, Crown Prince of Perak, Malaysia, who is also the financial ambassador to the MIFC initiatives.

Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, RAM Ratings was incorporated in 1990 as the pioneer credit rating agency in Malaysia, and has been voted as the top domestic rating agency in the Asia Pacific region by Asian Development Bank, and also named the most influential rating agency in the region.

Since its inception, RAM Ratings has ventured into countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Pakistan through partnerships providing an array of services from credit ratings, training, technical assistance and transfer of expertise.

An essential part of Malaysia's financial landscape, RAM Ratings plays a leading role in providing crucial and independent credit opinions that are needed by investors and other market participants, with a view to being more confident about their investment and financial decisions.

By Nasser Al Harthy

© The Peninsula 2009

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