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Mansoor Durrani Job Role: Vice

President and Head of Project Finance, NCB Country: Saudi Arabia

With 20 years experiences in sectors including

investment banking, private equity and Islamic project finance, Mr Durrani holds a place in our most influential people listing. He has attended numerous conferences and interviews, and has also published a bestseller entitled ‘Venture Capi- tal, Islamic Finance & SMEs’ which is sold in 70 countries around the world’. Mansoor Durrani was awarded a “New Voice of Islamic Finance” Award in 2002 and has also received a number of “Best Islamic Deal” Awards during his career.

with Mansoor Durrani 60

What are your thoughts on the future of Is- lamic finance?

We are part of an era where capital is play- ing a pivotal role not just in our economic lives but also our social and political lives. Current paralysis and expected demise of the conventional financial system is both bad and good news. Bad news in the short- run as it means the economic activity - sup- ported by this system - will get disrupted during the transition phase. Thanks to this system, the entire world has been hijacked by speculators. Since there is no room for speculation in Islamic finance, it is expected to bring the global economic system back to sanity. This is good news and I am positive about the future of Islamic finance.

What impact have you made in the Islamic finance industry?

Islamic finance is now a trillion dollar indus- try. A large part of this is allocated to listed Equity Funds and Consumer Finance. My humble contribution or “impact” can be di- vided into “intellectual” and “practical”. In- tellectually, I think my 10-year old doctoral research in Private Equity is still one-of-its kind and increasingly relevant in today’s situation. In order to apply my research, I wanted to set-up an Islamic Private Equity Fund. But it did not take off for reasons be- yond my control. So I came to Saudi Arabia where I’ve been fortunately employed by the largest bank in the region. NCB’s balance sheet and management support gave me an opportunity to build an Islamic Project Fi- nance business which is perhaps the largest in the world.

What advice would you give to those want- ing to enter your sector of expertise?

28 Global Islamic Finance April 2012

Impact on the Islamic finance industry Mansoor Durrani is the Vice-President and Head of Project Finance at the largest bank in the Middle East. He has led Islamic project finance deals with NCB’s commitments exceeding US $7 billion - an estimated 1/5 of the entire global Islamic project finance portfolio.

seconds interview…

This is an important question and very of- ten ignored by the industry advocates. This sector is still in its infancy. It is imperative for the leadership to learn lessons from the mistakes of the current system breathing its last. Financial institutions are not run by so- phisticated plants and machinery or super computers; they are rather run by humans. In my view, the mindset of Islamic finance managers is critical. They must realise that Islamic finance is based on very clear dos and don’ts. They cannot afford to be “over creative” in pursuit of “developing” this sec- tor. They must completely shed the “Wall Street mentality” before entering this sec- tor.

Within your career, what changes have been made to the Islamic finance indus- try?

Many changes have occurred in the wider sector, but I will mention a few in Islamic Project Finance only. Seven years back, only a handful of power projects had small Islam- ic tranches. While this continued and devel- oped to the extent that a large power deal was fully financed by Islamic tranche (NCB led this); we also managed to introduce sig- nificant Islamic financing in O&G, PetChem, Metals & Mining sectors. But these were all asset based projects.

We are currently working on one large In- ternational Airport and one large Motorway deal where the assets will not be owned by the project companies. They will only have operating rights. So we are developing groundbreaking structures where the oper- ating rights will be bundled and ring-fenced to meet Islamic financing requirements. This will be a major milestone in the Islamic fi- nancing of mega infrastructure projects.

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