One of the region's fastest growing law firms, Malaysia-based Azmi & Associates, has expanded its Islamic finance practice with a new appointment.
The firm has recruited former in-house counsel Idrus Ismail as a senior lawyer for its Islamic banking & finance practice group as the Islamic finance market develops further in the region.
With over two decades of banking advisory experience, Ismail has held positions with various financial institutions including Malaysia's second largest bank, CIMB Islamic Bank Bank Berhad.
“His exposure and circle of business professionals and friends will bring in new business to the firm, including corporate and commercial work,” said managing partner Azmi Mohd Ali . “Almost immediately after he joined us, we landed an Islamic takaful insurance transaction, reviewing a wakalah agreement, which we attended on behalf of CIMB Aviva Takaful Berhad.”
The timely addition comes as competition for market share in the Islamic finance market heats up between Singapore and Malaysia, with the Singapore government launching its first Islamic bond program earlier this week. Singapore-based Allen & Gledhill, whose alliance firm Zaid Ibrahim recently gained approval to operate in the Dubai International Finance Centre, advised on the landmark transaction, which aims to tap investors in the Gulf region.
“Such rapid developments indicate that Singapore’s Islamic finance industry is fast catching up with Malaysia’s,” said Ali. “Malaysia is still known as an international Islamic financial hub. While Singapore’s domestic market is small compared to Malaysia’s, its position as an international trading hub lends it better access to customers and Islamic finance players not only in the Middle East, but also in the USA and the UK. Part of this advantage is that Singapore hosts international law firms who are competent in Islamic banking work.”
ALB's Fast 30 survey last year found that Azmi & Associates was one of the region's fastest growing firms. The firm has most recently advised on the US$212m Islamic financing transaction of the Projek Lintasan Shah Alam, a local infrastructure project.