The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Infrastructure Fund has opened its Asian regional headquarters in Brunei and is looking for investments in Asia's Islamic countries. The fund totals $1.5 billion and invests in infrastructure projects in the 53 countries that are members of the Islamic Development Bank, which for Asia means Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

The fund invests equity in a variety of sectors - from power and telecoms, to transport, water and financial services. It will invest a minimum of $10 million in its projects and a maximum of $100 million or 40% of the project's total. The fund is looking for greenfield developments, expansion finance opportunities and will even invest in listed infrastructure companies if the returns are attractive.

The new office was opened last Saturday in Brunei by the country's deputy minister of finance, Dato Paduka Haji Yakub bin Abu Bakar. The Brunei government has recently been taking steps to develop its financial sector as a diversification away from oil revenues and it has placed great emphasis on developing an Islamic money market. Attracting this fund's headquarters is an important step in reaching that goal.

"The inauguration of the Fund's office in Brunei Darussalam is a significant milestone in the development of Brunei Darussalam as a leading centre of international investment and Islamic finance," said Dato Paduka Haji Yakub bin Abu Bakar at the opening ceremony. The government of Brunei is also one of the principal sponsors of the fund along with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Emerging Markets Partnership is the general partner and manager of the fund based in Bahrain. It will be administering the fund's Asian operations and Saquib Mawaz-Khan will run the Brunei office. Mawaz-Khan is an ex Kidder Peabody banker who has also served as Pakistan's high commissioner in Brunei. Most recently he was the lead partner of the Al-Khaleej Islamic Investment Bank in Bahrain.