Malaysia’s Islamic banks are ready for consolidation as they seek ways to cope with rising operational costs, a top official with Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd (BMMB) said, signalling a greater acceptance in $143.64bn sector for M&As. Islamic banks in the past have often been reluctant to merge, in part due to resistance from powerful shareholders who fear a loss of control while strains in global financial markets discourage risk-taking. Islamic finance has grown in leaps and bounds to account for 23.7% of Malaysia’s total banking assets although a major aspect is missing — the development of megabanks that can issue ground-breaking products in the same way as conventional banks. “I think consolidation is imminent and we will see a lot of Islamic banks getting together,” BMMB chief executive officer Redza Shah Abdul Wahid said. “Costs have risen easily by 20 to 30% mainly due to the shortage of human capital and increased regulatory costs. Margins are falling and the only way to counteract this is to become bigger and more efficient,” he added. BMMB is now the target of a potential acquisition by financial group Affin Holdings.