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Call for Papers: Global Donors Forum, Istanbul May 2016, 24-25

Resetting Priorities - Redefining Roles

Five years ago, the Global Donors Forum was convened in Dubai to take on a challenging task: to define the roadmap for Muslim giving into the next decade. As a growing network of philanthropists, grantmaking foundations and socially responsible corporations, the Forum lead a consultative dialogue among the thought leaders from which, it was hoped, a new social compact could emerge.

Half a decade on, with the world having changed dramatically as events in the Middle East would attest, the Global Donors Forum 2016, has a new set of issues to focus upon. Foremost among these is the need to rigorously analyse the past decade in order to ascertain how best to formulate strategies to counter emerging challenges. The GDF 2016 will, therefore, attempt to set new priorities as it looks to redefine the role of philanthropy, with a focus on the Muslim world in a radically changed global landscape.

Australian Islamic Fund Manager Now in Singapore

Usman Siddiqui, the Managing Director of Equitable Financial Solutions (EFSOL), a Australian Islamic finance company announced the establishment of the company’s office in Singapore. The Singapore branch, which is registered as EFSOL Asset Management, will play a key role in the company’s regional strategy. EFSOL also announced the offering of its investment scheme, the EFSOL Income Fund, registered under the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a restricted Collective Investment Scheme.

Rising corruption a concern, Africa, Russia, and Middle East the worst, says report

According to The Fourth Annual Global Anticorruption Survey corruption remains a growing concern. Some 90 percent of those polled replied that their industries faced corruption risks, up from 85 percent last year. Also, 28 percent of respondents said the risk was significant, compared to 22 percent last year. The numbers for Africa and the Middle East increased significantly from last year's figures of 59 percent and 45 percent, respectively. For Russia, the score improved slightly, dropping two percentage points from 75 percent last year.

Can Abu Dhabi's new financial free zone compete?

Abu Dhabi’s new financial centre has been running for six months but the corridors still feel quiet. Almost 200 people have been hired to work for Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) since its inception in 2013 but they are nowhere to be seen. Commentators have warned that ADGM’s established neighbour the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) could prevent it from flourishing, and argued it is unwise to locate two financial centres in such close proximity.

Islamic banking has to increase investment in agri, SME

Dr Ishrat Hussain, Chairman Center of Excellence for Islamic Finance emphasized that Islamic Finance should not be restricted to a faith based segment and the banking sector has to increase investment in agriculture, SME and Islamic Microfinance. He stated that the share of Islamic Banks is 13pc growing at the rate of 28%, however, there are still regulatory and legal challenges which need to be addressed to make a real shift in lending profiles.

DIB brings growth agenda to Pakistan

Dubai Islamic Bank’s Group Chief Executive Officer Dr. Adnan Chilwan, on his first visit to Pakistan, outlined the detailed growth strategy for the franchise in the country. This newly defined strategy repositions the Bank’s medium term plans alongside the transformational growth the Group has achieved as part of their 2014-2016 strategic agenda. The event also marked and celebrated the successful 10 years of the Bank’s operations in the country.

Sovereign wealth funds uplift Muslim world with Fajr Capital

Backed by sovereign funds Iqbal Khan and his private equity firm Fajr Capital invests for financial and social returns ins Muslim countries. Fajr is a union of institutions that have high credibility and share the same values. CEO Iqbal Khan sees it as his mission to broaden the educated Muslim middle class.

Rabobank Foundation and the World Bank team up to strengthen financial cooperatives for agrifinance

he World Bank and Rabobank Foundation are teaming up to strengthen financial cooperatives in rural areas to improve financial services for smallholder farmers and agricultural SMEs. To get access to savings and credit, rural households and farms often establish cooperative financial institutions (CFIs). The idea for intensified cooperation on CFIs is based on the experience with a program in Albania, where Rabobank and the Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation are supporting the consolidations of two local CFI federations.

Dubai Islamic Bank details rights issue plans

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) is inviting its shareholders to subscribe for new shares, by way of a 1-for-4 rights issue. The Board of Directors resolved on 27 April to increase the issued capital of the Bank by AED 988,437,777 raising the capital of the bank to AED 4,942,188,884. The New Shares will be issued at a price of AED 3.20 per New Share, reflecting the nominal value of AED 1.00 per New Share and a share premium of AED 2.20. The ownership limitation on DIB’s shares remains in place: 51 per cent of the issued share capital of the bank must be owned by nationals of the United Arab Emirates.

Canada: The next hub of Islamic finance?

Janet Ecker, president and CEO of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance said Canada’s stable financial market and risk management expertise, coupled with a large and growing Muslim population and an openness to the world, enables Canada to become the North American hub for Islamic finance. Just over one million people identified as Muslim on the most recent household survey in 2011, and that number is expected to grow to around three million by 2030. Muslims represented 3.2 percent of the Canadian population in 2011, up from 2 percent a decade earlier.

Malaysia's microtakaful expands to rural areas

#islamicfinance - #Malaysia’s #takaful industry is set to double its growth rate this year as companies focus on selling cheaper policies in rural areas, according to the Malaysian Takaful Association. The number of policies will rise 10 % to 5.05 mn in 2016, compared with 4.3 % growth in 2015 and a 1 % estimated expansion of non-Islamic business, Ahmad Rizlan Azman, chairman of the Association, said.

Qatar's largest bank investigating alleged data breach

Qatar National Bank is investigating a security breach that appears to have exposed sensitive personal data for what could be hundreds of customers, including employees of international broadcaster Al-Jazeera and potentially senior government officials. Four people identified in the files and reached by The Associated Press confirmed their personal information was authentic. It is unclear if all of the data posted online originated from the bank itself. The bank said it was coordinating with the concerned parties to investigate the matter and offered its assurance that there would be no financial impact for its clients or the bank.

CI: Tadhamon International Islamic Bank’s ratings downgraded

Capital Intelligence Ratings announced that it has downgraded the ratings of Tadhamon International Islamic Bank (TIIB), based in Yemen. TIIB’s Financial Strength Rating (FSR) was downgraded to 'B-' from 'B' due to the extremely challenging local operating environment and the attendant risk to the Bank’s financials, and continued pressure on earnings and associated volatility. The Bank’s Long-Term Foreign Currency Rating (FCR) is downgraded to 'C' (from 'C+') due to sovereign risk factors and the operating environment. The Short-Term FCR is maintained at 'C'. All ratings remain on a 'Negative' Outlook.

Shariah-compliant: Islamic financing increases for infrastructure deals

Shariah-compliant financing is emerging as a viable alternative to conventional banking in order to fund infrastructure deals, which could help promote use of longer-term transactions in Islamic finance. This month Pakistani banks arranged Rs100 billion ($955 million) worth of 10-year Islamic bonds (sukuk) for a hydropower plant, the largest infrastructure deal to use Islamic financing in the country. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan wanted to make Shariah-compliant financing its first choice for infrastructure and long-term financing needs.

Zurich Insurance moves into takaful with Malaysia buy

Zurich Insurance is set to take full ownership of Malaysia's MAA Takaful after the deal received regulatory approval, giving Europe's fifth-biggest insurer a foothold in the world's second largest Islamic insurance market. MAA Group said it had received central bank approval for the sale, a deal which was first proposed in November of last year. No size for the transaction was given. MAA Takaful held 1.2 billion ringgit ($306.7 million) worth of assets as of June 2015, a 5 percent increase from a year earlier.

Managing Debt in an Overleveraged World

In the years since the 2008 global financial crisis, austerity and balance-sheet repair have been the watchwords of the global economy. And yet today debt is fueling concern about growth prospects worldwide. The McKinsey Global Institute notes in a study that gross debt has increased about $60 trillion – or 75% of global GDP – since 2008. China’s debt, for example, has increased fourfold since 2007, and its debt-to-GDP ratio is some 282% – higher than in many other major economies, including the United States. A global economy that is levering up, while unable to generate enough aggregate demand to achieve potential growth, is on a risky path. But to assess how risky, several factors must be considered.

Funding Social Expenditure with Risk-Sharing Sukuk

While the use of risk-sharing instruments for the funding of revenue-generating infrastructure projects is easy to understand, such instruments can also be used for the funding of non-revenue generating infrastructure. The principle of risk-sharing would require that the government's repayment of the obligation created be linked to some proxy or indicator of government revenue. Given today's conundrum with debt and the need to deleverage, GDP-linked securities are being revisited. Replacing the benchmark to LIBOR (London Interbank Offer Rate) with a benchmark to nominal GDP makes eminent sense, especially from a Shariah viewpoint.

The New Financial Phenomenon for Pakistani Entrepreneurs: Crowd Funding

Pakistan has great potential of starting its own sustainable, digital turnaround. The country is embracing digital technology as a powerful tool which is not just limited to simple communication anymore rather it has become a life-changing catalyst. According to Alliedcrowd statistics, Pakistan currently ranks 22 among developing countries on the crowdfunding market with annual estimated business of $5.4M. The prospects for crowdfunding are quite positive in Pakistan as small businesses and young entrepreneurship is gaining popularity in the country.

A new day for Islamic finance in Iran

The lifting of sanctions has not only enhanced Iran's economy but has also provided an opportunity for Shari'ah-compliant investment with diversification opportunities. Iran's Islamic banking assets are $482 billion, according to Dubai Government data from 2014. Islamic finance in Iran can benefit from the sheer volume of the post-sanction investments and such projects are reportedly high. This will in turn support the market growth and create growth opportunities for the banking system in Iran.

Fitch: Turkish banks still resilient to economic shocks

Fitch Ratings expects Turkish banks to have continued resilience to economic shocks as they still retain reasonable capitalization and liquidity. According to Fitch Financial Institutions Director Lindsey Liddell the agency expects their performance to remain reasonable, however the banks will face some challenges given the slower growth environment and margin pressure from competition. There will be further asset quality pressures, particularly considering the sector's high level of foreign currency lending and the sharp devaluation of the local currency in 2015.

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