The Nation (Bangkok) | June 23, 2009
Bahrain-based Al Salam Bank yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with Charoen Pokphand Group to form a strategic alliance for agro-industrial investments.
As the bank diversifies into the agricultural sector it will support the CP Group to further expand its business interests in the Middle East and North Africa, which consists of 20 countries with a combined population of 300 million.
Both Al Salam and CP Group will jointly identify suitable ventures that will generate high returns on investment, while playing a proactive role in addressing food security in the region.
The alliance will carry out detailed feasibility studies to gauge the viability in various target agribusiness sectors, including livestock, staple foods, aquaculture and perishables.
The studies will cover technical, financial, markets and employ due diligence, to identify target markets in the Middle East and North Africa.
Yousif Abdulla Taqi, board member and chief executive officer of Al Salam Bank-Bahrain, said that forming a partnership with CP Group, a major agro-industrial conglomerate, would improve the bank's competitiveness through its technical expertise.
"This alliance is in line with Al Salam's mission to provide unique investment opportunities that meet investors' objectives and risk appetite. We are also proud to support the region in addressing the critical issue of food security," he said.
"Although Bahrain will be used as a hub, our target market will cover the Mena [Middle East and North Africa] region. The projects will play an important role in creating job opportunities for Bahrainis."
Mena comprises Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian Group, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The region has a gross economic product of US$1.53 trillion (Bt52.4 trillion).
Eam Ngamdamronk, vice chairman of CP Group, said it was a flexible agreement in which investment could be made in Bahrain, Thailand and also in third countries.
Both sides will jointly set up working groups to study potential business opportunities.
"Investment in any project will be supplied by Bahrain, while CP Group will provide knowledge and expertise to support them," Eam said.
Eam added that the partnership with Al Salam Bank signified the intent to establish Bahrain as the "Halal Food Hub" of the Mena region.
This alliance represents CP Group's first joint venture with an Islamic bank as part of the Kingdom's vision to become "The Kitchen of the World".Setting up an integrated halal food company that invests in farming, food processing, packaging and distribution is an example of CP Group's plans to establish a specialised management team with an extensive track record in the agricultural and food industries, said Eam.