Global custodian RBC Dexia Investor Services has opened an office in Malaysia with plans to add hundreds of staff to boost its presence in the region.

Chief executive officer JosT Placido says the new operational centre will help to provide clients with access to 24-hour service capabilities and enhance the scalability of the groupÆs global operations.

"The priority has been to establish Malaysia as an operations centre for our existing clients,ö explains Dominique Draux, regional head Asia-Pacific for RBC Dexia Investor Services and managing director for the Malaysia office. ôIn the next few months we will also conduct a market review on the domestic market in Malaysia to decide whether to establish ourselves as a local service provider for domestic and Sharia-compliant funds."

An additional advantage in Malaysia is the easy availability of a large workforce, skilled in the areas of accounting, finance, and IT. The company said it will recruit a total of 260 staff by the end of 2009. It has hired 100 staff to date since it started the recruitment process in May.

Dexia says its Malaysian workforce will provide transactional activities for custody and fund administration, preliminary accounting work for net asset valuations, reconciliation for securities, cash and foreign exchange, and critical transactional support for its round-the-clock global service model.

The steady growth of Islamic funds in Malaysia offers attractive opportunities for fund administrators looking to service these assets. Foreign investors are keen to tap into a portion of the wealth of the Islamic community, particularly from the Middle East.

The Malaysian government is creating a platform to be able to do just that, by allowing Islamic fund management companies to be 100% owned by foreign players.

Owned equally by RBC and Dexia, the company is ranked among the world's top 10 global custodians with $2.8 trillion in client assets under administration.