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Greece vs. Lehman Brothers

Is it fair to compare Greece with Lehman Brothers? May be not, but in fact many would want to figure out, what would happen if sometime later, e.g. in summer Greece would default. Will it be like Lehman? Wouldn't a country's default be more serious than a bank's?

Thus the question is how to compare the size of a country with a size of an investment bank? Surely not exactly but some figures are indeed interesting:

The economy of Greece has a national income of USD 242 billion (nominal gross domestic product) according to World Bank statistics for the year 2013. And the GDP to Debt ratio is said to be around 174%.

Lehman Brothers back in the 2007 annual report showed a net income of USD 4 bn. With long term borrowing of Lehman stood at USD 123 bn this would look much worse in terms of income and debt level than Greece. A better comparison for debt sustainability would need to take into account the assets of a country and a corporate of course. Lehman had reported USD 691 bn. What are the national assets of a country???

IDB arm to lead manage 300 bln CFA franc sukuk programme for Ivory Coast

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) will lead manage a 300 billion CFA franc ($480 million) Islamic bond programme for Ivory Coast. The programme will issue Ivory Coast's first sovereign sukuk in order to finance development projects. It will be conducted in two equal phases of 150 billion CFA francs and extend from 2015 to 2020, the ICD said in a statement. As lead manager, the ICD will structure the sukuk programme, appoint and coordinate other consultants, liaise with government officials and oversee the entire process of the offer, it said. Senegal and South Africa issued their first sukuk last year, while Niger's government plans to establish an Islamic bond programme and Nigeria has been considering an issue.

Russia seeks Malaysian expertise in Islamic Finance

Russia is looking to Malaysia to assist and build its knowledge and human capital in Islamic Finance, as it looks to introduce the system for its Muslim citizens. A delegation from Malaysia, consisting of representatives of a subdivision of the Central Bank of Malaysia for development of Islamic finance and University Tun Adbul Razak, visited Russia in February to assess the market. Earlier this year, two major Islamic banking institutions, Al Baraka and Al Shamal, announced that they are actively looking for partners in the Russian market at a recent banking summit. Working with a local partner will allow them to operate legally in Russia.

Ivory Coast Signs $490 Million Islamic Bonds Deal

Ivory Coast has signed an agreement for Islamic-finance bond as it seeks to raise money for infrastructure. The Islamic Corp. for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) will oversee the 300 billion-CFA franc ($490 million) sukuk. The program will be implemented in two tranches, each worth 150 billion francs, between this year and 2020. The sukuk will be an “alternative financing means for developmental” projects, Ivorian Minister Delegate to Finance Niale Kaba said, without giving details on what the funds will be used for. Ivory Coast joins a growing number of sub-Saharan African nations tapping Islamic finance debt markets seeking cash for development projects.

SIB achieves Dh107m net profit for Q1 2015

Sharjah Islamic Bank achieved a net profit of Dh106.9 million for the first quarter 2015 compared to Dh110 million for the same period last year. While total assets reaching Dh27.4 billion, total assets grew by 5.3 per cent to reach Dh27.4 billion at the end of the first quarter 2015 compared to Dh26.0 billion at year end 2014. Liquid assets reached Dh5.7 billion comprising 20.7 per cent of total assets. Net customer receivables amounted to Dh16 billion growing by 10.5 per cent or Dh1.5 billion compared to year end 2014. Investment securities increased by 27.6 per cent to reach Dh2 billion compared to Dh1.6 billion at the end of 2014. Sharjah Islamic Bank was successful in attracting more deposits during the first-quarter of the year.

Lloyd's of London 'in talks with regulators' to open Malaysian Islamic insurance office

Lloyd's is in talks with market regulators in Malaysia to set up an office dedicated to takaful. The planned office will also enable Lloyd's to target Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which together with Malaysia are the largest global markets for Islamic insurance, the marketplace's director of global markets, Vincent Vandendael, said. Lloyd's opened an office in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) earlier this year. Lloyd's has historically provided cross-border reinsurance in Malaysia as a foreign reinsurer, but also has a 'tier 2' licence allowing its syndicates to set up service companies in the Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (IBFC).

Equinix helps revitalize Takaful industry at global insurance conference

Equinix, the global interconnection and data center company, addressed the challenges and opportunities facing the Takaful industry in the region by taking part in the recently held World Takaful Conference, the world's largest gathering of Islamic insurance leaders, held in Dubai. James Maudslay, Global Head of Insurance, Equinix spoke about trends in the Takaful market with a key address on 'Sustainable market growth - Looking at opportunities for innovating the Takaful market offering'. Maudslay explained how technology can transform and grow the Takaful market by assisting with data recording, process control, reporting, regulatory inconsistencies, maximising data collection and storage.

Foreign investors expected to enhance market efficiency in Saudi Arabia

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is planning to allow in foreign investors from June 15. Mohammad Al Jadaan, chairman of CMA, expects a lot of benefits from the entry of foreign players into its stock markets. It is expected that the level of studies, research and evaluation done on the market in general and on the listed companies in particular would be higher which would provide more accurate information and more fair assessments, he said. This would also help to raise the level of the research and studies on the Saudi capital market, he added. The CMA is expected to publish the rules for foreign institutions on May 4, while rules will be effective June 1, and the QFIs will be allowed to invest in listed shares starting from June 15.

Skoll Foundation and UN Foundation Grants Fuel Partnerships Between Social Entrepreneurs and UN Agencies

The Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation today announced the winners of a unique set of grants—totaling US$1 Million—that will enable partnerships between social entrepreneurs and United Nations agencies, funds, and programs designed to drive impactful social innovations. This first-time grants application process encouraged Skoll Awardees to partner with UN agencies. Three programs will receive grants that will enable the partners to scale up innovative programs to benefit people around the world: Bringing Books to People with Print Disabilities; Increasing Financial Inclusion and Social Protection for the Rural Poor; Greening Procurement of Health Care Products.

Malaysia and Saudi facing Iran’s rising finance power

With the easing of economic sanctions against Iran, the country is expected to unleash its enormous potential of Islamic finance and enter the global stage with new Shariah-compliant products at a size that could threaten the dominance of Malaysia and Saudi Arabia in the sector. Iranian banks represent the world’s largest financial system based on Shariah law. However, due to the sanctions, the country has so far only marginally participated in the global Islamic finance sector and thus did not benefit from the rapid global growth of Islamic finance in the recent past. The entire banking system in Iran is Shariah-compliant, and there are no conventional banks to compete with.

Moody’s assigns A3 to Malaysia Sovereign Sukuk’s debt notes

Moody's Investors Service has assigned definitive A3 senior unsecured ratings to the US dollar trust certificates issued by Malaysia Sovereign Sukuk Bhd, a special purpose vehicle established by the government. Moody's said on Wednesday its definitive ratings for these debt obligations confirmed the provisional ratings assigned on April 6. The A3 rating assigned to the sukuk is at the same level as the long-term local-currency and foreign-currency issuer ratings of the Government of Malaysia. The proceeds of the sukuk will be used by the issuer to invest in the purchase of an asset pool consisting of Ijara assets, the right to participate in the provision of transportation services in Malaysia, and Shariah-compliant commodities.

Noor Bank’s inaugural Sukuk ?successfully achieves lowest ever coupon pricing in the UAE

Noor Bank has successfully priced its inaugural five-year $500 million Sukuk today. With the final pricing of 2.788 per cent for the issue, it becomes the lowest ever pricing paid by any Sukuk issuer in the UAE till date. The final pricing came at the back end of global roadshows undertaken across Asia, Middle East and Europe. This pricing of 130 bps over five-year mid-swaps is at the tight end of the final price guidance and compares to initial profit thoughts of 140 bps area. The senior unsecured issuance rated ‘A-’ (EXP) received an overwhelming investor interest from various geographies including the Middle East (54 per cent), Europe (29 per cent) and Asia (17 per cent) wherein more than 45 per cent of the issuance was allocated to European and Asian investors.

Les Echos publient une étude du marché des produits d’assurance Takaful en France

En Europe, le Takaful a rencontré une forte demande et a su trouver son marché là où il s’est allié aux assureurs mutualistes. A ce jour, sur le marché Français l’offre Takaful est en construction en assurance Vie. Si les compétences opérationnelles et les capacités d’encadrement existent et sont facilement mobilisables, la demande est aujourd’hui en attente. Des pans entiers de la cible se disent prêts à souscrire à une offre de qualité. Les associations communautaires, les particuliers, les entreprises, les déçus ou les réfractaires de la finance traditionnelle peuvent trouver dans la mise en place de ces offres une solution à leurs besoins.

Egypt Signals Sukuk Intent

Egypt's sukuk law is likely to be ready by the start of the new fiscal year in July, according to Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian, who told reporters in March the government will sell dollar-denominated Shariah-compliant notes once the rules are in place. Egypt also said in early March it’s preparing to issue its first conventional international bond since 2010. Egypt has hired banks including Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas and Natixis for a $1.5 billion non-Shariah compliant bond sale, Dimian said in March. The cash raised will be partly used to pay dues to foreign oil companies. The sukuk sale will probably also be used to finance mega-projects that have been approved by the government during the investment conference.

Gulf's largest utility firm says Q1 net loss more than doubled

Saudi Electricity Co (SEC), the Gulf's largest utility firm, has reported its net loss for the first quarter more than doubled. It lost 1.94 billion riyals ($517.4 million) during the three months to March 31, compared to a loss of 913 million riyals during the corresponding period of 2014. The utility cited the costs of implementing an order from the electricity regulator on power usage by top manufacturers, as well as other expenses, for the decline in earnings. It did not elaborate. During the first quarter, the firm paid 545 million riyals to employees in bonuses as part of a scheme to celebrate the Saudi royal succession. Besides, SEC's results are highly seasonal because of the big swing between power demand in winter and in summer.

Islamic Development Bank may send MDPS to Azerbaijan

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) plans to expand its cooperation with Azerbaijan in respond to the request of the national government. In this regard the bank may send the MDPS to the country. The material is distributed only on private subscription conditions. If you are interested in it please contact the Marketing Service of Fineko Agency.

SMEDAN, Jaiz Bank sign MoU to empower SMEs on business operations – D-G

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and Jaiz Bank on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to empower Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country. The objective of this collaboration is to design a cheap, affordable and sustainable financing product that will empower SMEs to expand their business operations, Alhaji Umar Masari, Director-General, SMEDAN said. According to him, the roles of SMEDAN in the MoU is to sensitise prospective beneficiaries to the benefit of the collaboration. The bank will facilitate MSME access to Federal Government’s MSME Development Funds, among others.

Malaysia's Bank Islam issues first sukuk tranche worth $83 million

Malaysia's Bank Islam issued its first sukuk tranche worth 300 million ringgit ($83.13 million) under its 1 billion ringgit sukuk murabahah programme, BIMB Holdings Bhd said on Wednesday. The tranche has a 10-year tenure and could only be redeemed after 5 years. Proceeds will be used to finance its banking activities and working capital, all of which would be sharia compliant.

Restructuring: SECP chief backs Islamic financing

Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Zafar Hijazi said on Wednesday the regulator is looking to enhance Shariah compliance in the capital markets by restructuring and reorganising the Islamic capital market. Speaking at the fourth Islamic Finance Expo and Conference as chief guest, Hijazi discussed in detail the roadmap for the promotion of Islamic finance in Pakistan. He added that the SECP is centralising the Shariah-related capital market activities besides improving the regulatory framework for Takaful, Modarabas, Islamic mutual funds, Islamic pension funds and Islamic real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Maybank Islamic positive on new requirement

Maybank Islamic Bhd expects the bulk of its mudarabah deposit account holders to reclassify their accounts to mudarabah investment account (IA), in compliance with Bank Negara’s requirement. Chief executive officer Muzaffar Hisham said the 350,000 customers of the bank’s existing mudarabah deposit products had been given until May 31 to consent to either have their accounts reclassified as IA or other syariah-compliant deposit products. Some 70%-80% of the bank’s customers were expected to make the switch as the IA was a compliance requirement arising from the central bank’s Islamic Financial Services Act 2013.

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