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Gatehouse Bank: bridging the gap between East and West through Islamic banking

Article - October 24, 2013
Transparency, innovation and a pioneering spirit have created a unique, tailor-made Islamic banking one-stop shop at the London-based Gatehouse Bank
A leading Shariah-compliant investment bank based in the City of London and regulated by the Financial Services Authority has successfully established itself as a one-stop shop for a full range of Islamic banking services that stand out from the competition. Located close to the Bank of England and backed by Kuwaiti shareholders, Gatehouse Bank is the only UK Islamic banking institution with an in-house Shariah supervisory board. It structures simple and transparent real estate-backed investment options tailor-made to each individual client.  
“There are five Islamic banks in the UK,” says Fahed Faisal Boodai, Chairman of Gatehouse Bank. “We pride ourselves in having a solutions-based ethos – not only do we provide fundamental banking, we also offer real-estate investments options and solutions, structured finance, wealth management and Shariah advisory services. Our in-house Shariah team offers something no others have and is a great USP [unique selling point] which enhances our credibility in the market. Our other in-house teams include credit, treasury, structured finance, asset management and real estate services, and they offer in-depth expertise.”
In 2007, Gatehouse Bank set up in London firstly to leverage on the City’s reputation as a global financial centre, and secondly to be a gateway between the Kuwait/GCC and South Asian markets and London. “We understand the importance of diversification and investing our clients’ interest as our own,” says Mr Boodai. “To date, Gatehouse Bank has acquired $1.25 billion for a number of Kuwaiti and GCC and Malaysian clients.”
The bank’s income for 2012 was up 153 per cent to $20.3 million and it reported an operating profit of $7.5 million. Income has been boosted by the bank’s active real estate strategy, with assets under its management now around $1.5 billion. 
“We seek investments in which we can find real value and grow that value over time,” says Mr Boodai. “A good example of this is our recent sale of 181 Fremont Street, in the heart of San Francisco’s South Financial District in California. The investment successfully obtained entitlements from the City of San Francisco in December 2012 to allow for the construction of a 54-story, mixed-use residential and office tower. The total amount of the sale reached $71 million, which yielded a profit on equity of 100 per cent post costs and taxes.” 
Earlier this year, the bank also announced the launch of a number of specialist and innovative new products designed specifically to add value for the benefit of its international client base. Its new online access portal Gatehouse Bank Access Direct enables clients to securely check their financial positions and holdings.
Gatehouse Bank has several key corporate social responsibility initiatives. It actively supports Mosaic, a charity founded by the Prince of Wales, providing volunteer mentors who work with secondary school pupils on understanding the key components of business, such as finance, sales and marketing. Also, the bank’s Women’s Initiative has hosted a number of workshops in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to help women improve their understanding of real estate investments, focusing particularly on the UK and US markets.