Arabsas Travel & Tourist Agency, a Saudi Arabian entity, has initiated the divestment of its ownership and shares from Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd. This decision comes after assuming management and ownership from Islami Bank Bangladesh PCL. The move, confirmed by the bank’s Managing Director highlights the Saudi company’s aim to reap profits. The bank’s history saw a shift in ownership from domestic and foreign shareholders to the S. Alam Group in January 2017. However, recent reports by Bangladesh Bank indicate the bank’s struggle with liquidity due to irregularities, affecting its compliance with cash reserve requirements. As a consequence, the central bank occasionally facilitates regular transactions through cash deposits and secures fund transfers.
On 5 July, Islami Bank notified the Dhaka Stock Exchange of Arabsas Travel’s departure from a directorial position. The Saudi company’s substantial ownership, representing 99 percent of shares, is being sold to pursue lucrative gains. Observers note that this development underscores foreign investors’ wavering confidence in the bank, raising concerns for the country’s investment climate. Despite its 40-year association, Arabsas is relinquishing shares, marking a significant shift in its stance. The bank’s shares currently trade at a constant floor price of BDT 32.60, reflecting stability but also hinting at challenges in attracting foreign investments. In its journey since 1983, Islami Bank’s management has changed hands, with recent irregularities in loans surfacing, albeit without punitive actions. To maintain operations, Bangladesh Bank has intervened by injecting funds.