The Early Years
The Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) was established in 1974 by the late Sheikh Ali Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah subsequent to the first oil shock. His objective was to create a leading financial institution capable of channeling oil wealth into the development of Kuwait's infrastructure and investing the excess in the best investment prospects worldwide. Central to his vision was his firm belief that without a properly regulated and active capital market, the Kuwaiti private sector would not be able to develop its capabilities to execute the large-scale private and government projects necessary for the transformation of Kuwait into a modern economy. This belief is well entrenched in the way Markaz conducts business today.
Throughout our history, we have remained ahead of our competition in Kuwait by introducing sophisticated financial products and venturing into new markets. In 1976 we boldly established the first merchant bank in Korea, in partnership with Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company. In 1978 we started our real estate investment activity in the United States, based in Los Angeles, California, and in 1979 we acquired a major stake in the Bank of Lebanon and Kuwait.
The Iraqi Invasion
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 brought a halt to our business activities. Because of the resulting loss of business and the financial losses, our activities between Liberation Day and 1997 remained restricted to foreign exchange and the management of our investments.
It took seven years for us to recover from our losses, but we are proud that we were among the few Kuwaiti companies that relied on their resources and the loyalty and determination of their staff, rather than government subsidies, to recover from the invasion.
Between 1996 and 1999, we restructured our operations to capitalize on the emerging opportunities in the Kuwaiti market. We divested a substantial part of our non-core assets, affiliates, and subsidiaries abroad, raised our paid-in-capital to KD 40 million, listed our shares on the Kuwait Stock Exchange in April 1997, and embarked on an ambitious plan to once again become a full-service investment company.
Having recovered from a grinding halt in 1997 with no assets under management, Markaz had as of 31st December, 2013, KD 975 Million (USD 3.45 Billion) in Assets Under Management. Our Corporate Finance Department has led and managed in excess of USD 2.650 billion in Equities and Bond issues.
Markaz has established Markaz Real Estate Investment Company, a fully owned subsidiary of Markaz based in Riyadh. Markaz also has opened a representative office in Beirut.