iHilal Launches First Regulated, Islamic Financial Services Web Site

Web Offering of Shari'ah-Compliant Financial Products and Services Gives

140 Million Muslim Investors Ability to Invest On-Line



Apr 03, 2001, 01:00 ET from iHilal

    NEW YORK, April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The world's first regulated, financial
 services web site to offer financial products and services compliant with
 Islamic law was unveiled today in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  The site,
 http://www.iHilal.com, makes it possible for Muslims worldwide to purchase
 Shari'ah-compliant stocks and mutual funds.
     Islamic investing is governed by the Shari'ah (Islamic law).  These
 principles require that an investment must be in "ethical sectors", i.e.
 profits cannot be made from prohibited activities such as alcohol production,
 gambling and pornography.  Additionally, all wealth creation should result
 from a partnership between the investor and the user of capital in which
 rewards and risks are shared.
     iHilal is designed to reach middle income Muslims around the world who are
 interested in on-line investing, which the company believes is a fast growing
 market segment.  Overall, the potential market for Shari'ah-compliant
 financial products and services is estimated to include 140 million Muslim
 investors worldwide, with current investments of approximately US $175 billion
 and a projected annual growth rate of 15 percent, according to the Bahrain
 Institute of Banking and Finance.
     Accenture Technology Ventures and Rasmala Private Equity Group provided
 the seed capital to create iHilal.com.  "iHilal fills a significant need in
 the global financial services marketplace," said Cherine Chalaby, General
 Partner, Accenture Technology Ventures.  "iHilal's experienced management
 team, combined with its powerful and scalable business model, made it a
 compelling investment for us."
     "Investors throughout the Muslim world want credible financial products
 and services that comply with the teachings of Islam," said Ramzi Abu Khadra,
 CEO of iHilal.  "Now, for the first time, Muslim retail investors have the
 ability to invest online in over 1,000 Islamically screened stocks (US, Canada
 and foreign companies), traded on US markets, as well as Shari'ah compliant
 mutual funds."  For UK investors, iHilal now offers Islamic mutual funds, and
 will seek approval to offer Brokerage Services in the near future.
     To ensure that all products and services offered through iHilal strictly
 adhere to Islamic law, the company has appointed two internationally renowned
 Shari'ah advisors -- Sheikh Nizam Yaqoobi and Sheikh Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo --
 as advisors.  Both scholars are members of the Dow Jones(SM) Islamic Market
 Index Shari'ah Advisory Board.  In addition, iHilal.com has entered into a
 licensing agreement with Dow Jones Indexes, to create a unique Islamic Stock
 Filter based on the Dow Jones(SM) Islamic Market Index screening process.
     iHilal's stock trading service will not permit un-Islamic transactions,
 including options trading and interest-based transactions, such as margin
 trading and short selling.  The technical architecture for the online stock
 trading service was developed by Online Brokerage Solutions, Inc., a leading
 provider of internet trading solutions.
     Investors with a preference for professionally managed funds can access
 iHilal's web site to view and invest in offshore and UK Islamic mutual funds
 from leading product providers, including SAMBA (CitiGroup affiliate), ORBITEX
 (US$17 billion assets management company) and National Commercial Bank (the
 largest bank in Saudi Arabia with the country's highest assets under
 management in Islamic mutual funds).
     Other financial products and services under development by iHilal include
 Islamic liquidity management accounts, Islamic insurance, Islamic mortgages
 and pensions, as well as foreign stock market coverage, stated Pervez Said,
 Head of Global Marketing and Business Development of iHilal.
     iHilal is regulated as a broker dealer in the United States by the
 National Association of Securities Dealers.  In the United Kingdom iHilal is
 regulated by the Personal Investment Authority and offshore by the Guernsey
 Financial Services Commission.  "We believe that in striving to meet the
 strict standards imposed by the regulators the ultimate beneficiary will be
 our customers," stated Abu Khadra.
     "We believe that iHilal has a solid business model, valuable marketing
 alliances, a unique infrastructure with both Shari'ah and regulatory
 compliance, as well as the technology and customer care that will make this
 business succeed," concluded Ali Samir al Shihabi, Rasmala Managing Partner
 and iHilal Chairman.
 
     About iHilal
     iHilal.com was established in March 2000 as a joint investment between
 Accenture Technology Ventures, the venture capital unit of Accenture and
 Rasmala Islamic Finance Ltd., a subsidiary of Rasmala Private Equity Group,
 along with a consortium including Deutsche Bank, Saudi American Bank and a
 number of prominent institutional and private investors.  The company has
 offices in London, Guernsey, Dubai (Dubai Internet City -- the world's first
 free trade zone for IT and e-Business), and Minneapolis, US.
 
     About Accenture Technology Ventures and Accenture
     Accenture Technology Ventures is the venture capital unit of Accenture, a
 US $10 billion global management and technology consulting leader.  Accenture
 Technology Ventures helps talented entrepreneurs build great companies that
 can transform entire industries, create new markets and ultimately generate
 superior economic returns.  The company's portfolio includes more than
 50 innovative companies that are building key components of tomorrow's
 infrastructure and improving the way the world works and lives.  iHilal.com is
 Accenture Technology Ventures' first investment in the Middle East.
     Accenture is a $10 billion global management and technology consulting
 organization.  The firm is reinventing itself to become the market maker,
 architect and builder of the new economy, bringing innovations to improve the
 way the world works and lives.  More than 71,000 people in 46 countries
 deliver a wide range of specialized capabilities and solutions to clients
 across all industries.  Under its strategy, the firm is building a network of
 businesses to meet the full range of client needs - consulting, technology,
 outsourcing, alliances and venture capital.  Accenture's home page is
 http://www.accenture.com.
 
     About Rasmala Islamic Finance Ltd.
     Rasmala Islamic Finance Ltd. is a subsidiary of the Rasmala Private Equity
 Group, a consortium that includes Deutsche Bank, Saudi American Bank (a
 CitiGroup affiliate), the Arabian General Investment Company (AGICO), together
 with a group of prominent institutional and individual investors from Saudi
 Arabia. The company has undertaken a number of direct investments in the
 Middle East's financial services and technology sectors.
 
                           IHILAL SPOKESPERSONS' BIOS
 
     Chief Executive Office -- Ramzi Abu Khadra
     Ramzi Abu Khadra has considerable experience in leading and developing
 high profile projects and has held a number of key management positions in
 finance and engineering.  Mr. Abu Khadra joined iHilal from the Carlyle Group
 in Saudi Arabia, and he has also worked for Saudi Aramco in both the US and
 the Persian Gulf.  Mr. Abu Khadra holds BS and MS degrees in Chemical
 engineering, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
 
     Head of Marketing and Product Development -- Pervez Said
     Pervez Said is responsible for iHilal's overall marketing strategy, as
 well as managing and developing relationships with product providers.  He has
 extensive experience in consumer marketing, and has held senior executive
 positions with Citibank, Lever Brothers and Johnson & Johnson.  Mr. Said
 joined iHilal from Pakistan's Al-Meezan Islamic Investment Bank.
 
 

SOURCE iHilal
    NEW YORK, April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The world's first regulated, financial
 services web site to offer financial products and services compliant with
 Islamic law was unveiled today in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  The site,
 http://www.iHilal.com, makes it possible for Muslims worldwide to purchase
 Shari'ah-compliant stocks and mutual funds.
     Islamic investing is governed by the Shari'ah (Islamic law).  These
 principles require that an investment must be in "ethical sectors", i.e.
 profits cannot be made from prohibited activities such as alcohol production,
 gambling and pornography.  Additionally, all wealth creation should result
 from a partnership between the investor and the user of capital in which
 rewards and risks are shared.
     iHilal is designed to reach middle income Muslims around the world who are
 interested in on-line investing, which the company believes is a fast growing
 market segment.  Overall, the potential market for Shari'ah-compliant
 financial products and services is estimated to include 140 million Muslim
 investors worldwide, with current investments of approximately US $175 billion
 and a projected annual growth rate of 15 percent, according to the Bahrain
 Institute of Banking and Finance.
     Accenture Technology Ventures and Rasmala Private Equity Group provided
 the seed capital to create iHilal.com.  "iHilal fills a significant need in
 the global financial services marketplace," said Cherine Chalaby, General
 Partner, Accenture Technology Ventures.  "iHilal's experienced management
 team, combined with its powerful and scalable business model, made it a
 compelling investment for us."
     "Investors throughout the Muslim world want credible financial products
 and services that comply with the teachings of Islam," said Ramzi Abu Khadra,
 CEO of iHilal.  "Now, for the first time, Muslim retail investors have the
 ability to invest online in over 1,000 Islamically screened stocks (US, Canada
 and foreign companies), traded on US markets, as well as Shari'ah compliant
 mutual funds."  For UK investors, iHilal now offers Islamic mutual funds, and
 will seek approval to offer Brokerage Services in the near future.
     To ensure that all products and services offered through iHilal strictly
 adhere to Islamic law, the company has appointed two internationally renowned
 Shari'ah advisors -- Sheikh Nizam Yaqoobi and Sheikh Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo --
 as advisors.  Both scholars are members of the Dow Jones(SM) Islamic Market
 Index Shari'ah Advisory Board.  In addition, iHilal.com has entered into a
 licensing agreement with Dow Jones Indexes, to create a unique Islamic Stock
 Filter based on the Dow Jones(SM) Islamic Market Index screening process.
     iHilal's stock trading service will not permit un-Islamic transactions,
 including options trading and interest-based transactions, such as margin
 trading and short selling.  The technical architecture for the online stock
 trading service was developed by Online Brokerage Solutions, Inc., a leading
 provider of internet trading solutions.
     Investors with a preference for professionally managed funds can access
 iHilal's web site to view and invest in offshore and UK Islamic mutual funds
 from leading product providers, including SAMBA (CitiGroup affiliate), ORBITEX
 (US$17 billion assets management company) and National Commercial Bank (the
 largest bank in Saudi Arabia with the country's highest assets under
 management in Islamic mutual funds).
     Other financial products and services under development by iHilal include
 Islamic liquidity management accounts, Islamic insurance, Islamic mortgages
 and pensions, as well as foreign stock market coverage, stated Pervez Said,
 Head of Global Marketing and Business Development of iHilal.
     iHilal is regulated as a broker dealer in the United States by the
 National Association of Securities Dealers.  In the United Kingdom iHilal is
 regulated by the Personal Investment Authority and offshore by the Guernsey
 Financial Services Commission.  "We believe that in striving to meet the
 strict standards imposed by the regulators the ultimate beneficiary will be
 our customers," stated Abu Khadra.
     "We believe that iHilal has a solid business model, valuable marketing
 alliances, a unique infrastructure with both Shari'ah and regulatory
 compliance, as well as the technology and customer care that will make this
 business succeed," concluded Ali Samir al Shihabi, Rasmala Managing Partner
 and iHilal Chairman.
 
     About iHilal
     iHilal.com was established in March 2000 as a joint investment between
 Accenture Technology Ventures, the venture capital unit of Accenture and
 Rasmala Islamic Finance Ltd., a subsidiary of Rasmala Private Equity Group,
 along with a consortium including Deutsche Bank, Saudi American Bank and a
 number of prominent institutional and private investors.  The company has
 offices in London, Guernsey, Dubai (Dubai Internet City -- the world's first
 free trade zone for IT and e-Business), and Minneapolis, US.
 
     About Accenture Technology Ventures and Accenture
     Accenture Technology Ventures is the venture capital unit of Accenture, a
 US $10 billion global management and technology consulting leader.  Accenture
 Technology Ventures helps talented entrepreneurs build great companies that
 can transform entire industries, create new markets and ultimately generate
 superior economic returns.  The company's portfolio includes more than
 50 innovative companies that are building key components of tomorrow's
 infrastructure and improving the way the world works and lives.  iHilal.com is
 Accenture Technology Ventures' first investment in the Middle East.
     Accenture is a $10 billion global management and technology consulting
 organization.  The firm is reinventing itself to become the market maker,
 architect and builder of the new economy, bringing innovations to improve the
 way the world works and lives.  More than 71,000 people in 46 countries
 deliver a wide range of specialized capabilities and solutions to clients
 across all industries.  Under its strategy, the firm is building a network of
 businesses to meet the full range of client needs - consulting, technology,
 outsourcing, alliances and venture capital.  Accenture's home page is
 http://www.accenture.com.
 
     About Rasmala Islamic Finance Ltd.
     Rasmala Islamic Finance Ltd. is a subsidiary of the Rasmala Private Equity
 Group, a consortium that includes Deutsche Bank, Saudi American Bank (a
 CitiGroup affiliate), the Arabian General Investment Company (AGICO), together
 with a group of prominent institutional and individual investors from Saudi
 Arabia. The company has undertaken a number of direct investments in the
 Middle East's financial services and technology sectors.
 
                           IHILAL SPOKESPERSONS' BIOS
 
     Chief Executive Office -- Ramzi Abu Khadra
     Ramzi Abu Khadra has considerable experience in leading and developing
 high profile projects and has held a number of key management positions in
 finance and engineering.  Mr. Abu Khadra joined iHilal from the Carlyle Group
 in Saudi Arabia, and he has also worked for Saudi Aramco in both the US and
 the Persian Gulf.  Mr. Abu Khadra holds BS and MS degrees in Chemical
 engineering, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
 
     Head of Marketing and Product Development -- Pervez Said
     Pervez Said is responsible for iHilal's overall marketing strategy, as
 well as managing and developing relationships with product providers.  He has
 extensive experience in consumer marketing, and has held senior executive
 positions with Citibank, Lever Brothers and Johnson & Johnson.  Mr. Said
 joined iHilal from Pakistan's Al-Meezan Islamic Investment Bank.
 
 SOURCE  iHilal