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Dubai-Luxembourg firm launches Islamic factoring for SMEs

Tawreeq Holdings, an investment group based in Dubai and Luxembourg, has launched an Islamic trade receivables financing platform catering to the Gulf region's small businesses, with plans to tap the capital markets to fund the venture. The firm's CEO Haitham Al Refaie said the concept aims to give smaller firms a funding alternative to bank loans. Besides start-up capital from regional investors, the firm plans to raise additional funds, he added without giving monetary figures. Tawreeq's platform provides sharia-compliant factoring by connecting corporates, suppliers and investors to securitise trade receivables.

State to fuel Islamic finance boom, Turkey banks chief says

New Islamic units of three state banks will accelerate Turkey’s plans to expand the share of Shari'ah-compliant assets, said Osman Akyuz, head of the country’s Islamic banking association. Akyuz foresees the country’s interest-free assets increasing by 30 per cent to $60 billion in 2015, up from 1.2 per cent growth in the 12 months through November. The association, which represents Turkey’s four Islamic banks, is also working to introduce new debt instruments, Akyuz said. Besides, the three state banks -- Ziraat Bank, Vakif Bank and Halkbank -- have pledged to quickly set up units for Shari'ah-compliant banking.

Gatehouse Bank appoints head of real estate investment

Gatehouse Bank has appointed David Swan in a newly-created role as head of real estate investment. Swan will lead the firm’s real estate investment department in the origination, management and realisation of real estate equity investments. Gatehouse currently advises funds with approximately £1bn assets in the UK and US. The business is focused on diversifying its investment capabilities and expanding the geographical footprint of its portfolio. Swan has more than two decades of experience in the real estate investment sector. Prior to Gatehouse, he founded Bridgeport Real Estate in 2012, a real estate company advising investors on a range of large scale off-market transactions.

After megabank flop, CIMB Islamic plans microloans

CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd. plans to start offering microloans in Malaysia as it seeks new growth avenues after delaying plans to create a Shariah-compliant megabank. The Malaysian lender will offer a wide range of products including microsavings, microinsurance and advisory services. While acknowledging the risks, CIMB will put in place a framework to manage defaults. The lender’s microfinance business will develop in stages starting at the higher end. Keeping in mind that prospects for growth are good, the bank is looking to launch something subject to relevant approvals by this year.

Dr. Nasser Saidi: Does Islamic Finance Matter?

Despite the surge and purported popularity of Islamic finance, the industry is inconsequential in comparison to conventional finance. Islamic finance assets are heavily concentrated in the Middle East and Asia, and overwhelmingly in the Islamic banking sector. The Great Financial Crisis has caused a fundamental loss of trust by the general public in the financial system. Islamic finance should capitalise on this opportunity by highlighting its ethical standards and risk sharing principles. Nevertheless, there is a long road ahead for Islamic finance to achieve mainstream status. GCC governments need to take the lead to mainstream Islamic finance.

Banque Misr ups Islamic Funding to EGP2 billion at 2014-end

Banque Misr has registered total Shariah-compliant funding of two billion Egyptian pounds (US$135 million) by end of 2014. Banque Misr's Shariah-compliant deposits have totalled around 26 billion pounds. During fiscal year 2013/2014, Banque Misr had arranged a number of Islamic funding contracts including a US$110 million contract as pursuant to Mudaraba system. The bank had also implemented the first joint Islamic financing with Istisna'a followed by Ijarah system described in the disclosure to finance a project with a total value of about 1.07 billion pounds, Moreover, the bank had carried out the first Islamic finance in the Egyptian market with Musharakah Mutanaqisah system.

GCC family businesses to increase women’s role

Family businesses in the GCC are looking to increase the number of women in senior management positions over the next decade to emulate the success of their global counterparts, says a new study. The joint study undertaken by Alsayedah Khadijah Bint Khawilid Center and Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) investigates the role of women in family businesses across the region. However, the study reveals there are still major obstacles for women hoping to participate in family businesses, particularly cultural perceptions of a patriarchal society and fierce competition from family members.

Tawreeq launches Shari'ah Compliant Supply Chain Finance Platform

Tawreeq, an independent Dubai/Luxembourg based group, has launched a supply chain finance platform targeting SME’s. The company led a development process to devise a Shari'ah-compliant workflow for supply chain finance. At its core is an IT platform that connects all elements under a single, cloud-based system that allows global reach and service. Tawreeq tackles challenges faced by SMEs through cash-flow tools known as factoring and reverse factoring. Tawreeq has worked closely with Amanie Advisors to ensure Shari'ah compliance and certification of its products and processes.

SUKUK PIPELINE - Issue plans around the world

The Thomson Reuters Global Sukuk Index is at 116.87897 points, up from 115.79726 at the end of last month. The Thomson Reuters Investment Grade Sukuk Index is at 114.80806 points against 113.69014 at end-December. The sukuk in the pipeline include: Ivory Coast plans to make a debut 200 billion CFA franc ($340 million) sukuk issue in 2015. International Bank of Azerbaijan also plans to issue $200-300 million of debut sukuk this year. Malaysia's UniTapah Sdn Bhd plans to issue up sukuk murabaha of up to 600 million ringgit. Kenya will issue its debut sukuk in the next financial year to June 2016.

CORRECTED-OFFICIAL-Abu Dhabi's Al Hilal Bank says CEO has not resigned

Abu Dhabi's government-owned Al Hilal Bank said on Thursday its chief executive Mohamed Jamil Berro had not resigned, correcting an earlier comment from a spokeswoman who said he was leaving. The CEO still remains in his position and it is business as usual for the bank, according to a statement from the bank. Earlier, the bank's spokeswoman told Reuters that Berro had resigned, with Al Hilal's executive vice president of wholesale banking, Sarie Ahmed Arar, assuming the role of acting CEO. The bank's spokeswoman mistakenly informed Reuters that Berro had resigned, the statement said without elaborating.

Pakistan's Bank Islami to study purchase of KASB Bank

Bank Islami Pakistan has received regulatory approval to study the acquisition of KASB Bank Limited. An acquisition could see Karachi-based Bank Islami add 105 branches to its existing network of 213, while the transaction would require the conversion of KASB Bank's conventional financial products into sharia-compliant ones. In November, the central bank placed KASB Bank under a six-month moratorium as it struggled to meet capital adequacy requirements. Last week, Bank Islami's board of directors approved a plan to raise 3.5 billion rupees ($34.8 million) via subordinated Islamic bonds to fund its expansion strategy.

The global elite in Davos must give the world a pay rise

The share of national income going to wages across industrialized countries has fallen from over 66 per cent in the early Eighties to around 61 per cent, according to the OECD. Globally, the decline is even sharper – from 62.5 per cent in 1980 to 54 per cent in 2010, according to the United Nations. Rising pay inequalities at the same time as a falling wage share mean even less of the rewards of growth go to the working people who create them. The World Economic Forum itself has at least finally put deepening income inequality at the top of its list of global concerns. The world economy is wage led, and if the wages increase, then the greater spending power boosts growth.

Airbus-backed Islamic leasing fund signs maiden deal

An Airbus-backed, sharia-compliant aircraft leasing fund has signed its maiden deal to buy five A330-200 planes with an option for four more. Based on list prices, the deal for the nine planes is worth approximately $2 billion, according to Dubai-based International Airfinance Corporation (IAFC), which manages the fund. The fund, which exclusively finances Airbus aircraft for clients in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, was launched in June with seed capital from Airbus and the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank. The fund has a target size of $5 billion and uses a 4-to-1 mix of sharia-compliant debt and equity.

Somalia’s first Islamic bank goes live with iMAL Islamic core banking system

Premier Bank in Somalia has successfully gone live with Path Solutions’ iMAL Islamic Banking & Investment System on the 29th of December 2014. The implementation of the new R14 Branch Automation in the latest Java version serves the bank’s purposes of focusing on its business growth, managing risks and controlling costs. Phase I implementation covers System Admin, Accounting, Customer Service Management (CSM), Report Designer, SWIFT, Alerts (SMS Banking), and Processing modules in iMAL. Phase II implementation is already in progress and includes Facility Management System, Islamic Investment System, Provisioning, Profit Calculation System and Integration Manager modules along with Internet Banking, ATM, and Mobile Banking.

Call for Arab world 'Marshall Plan' at Davos 2015

A call for a 'Marshall Plan' in the Arab world was made at the start of the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos. One speaker outlined his idea to have a fund to invest in large and small economic projects across the Arab world. The investment would come from Arab sources. There's tons of capital in the area, he said. Several other attendees agreed that such a fund can go ahead without the political stability. However, there are also dangers in the region, like having no change for decades and suddenly dramatic change. The long tradition of strong men and weak states has led to the hollowing out of the nation state and these issues are now coming to the fall.

Sabana Shariah Compliant REIT’s Latest Earnings Leaves Investors with Nothing to Cheer About

Sabana Shariah Compliant REIT (SGX: M1GU) has released its full-year earnings for 2014 recently. The REIT focuses on industrial properties scattered around Singapore which are collectively worth around S$1.26 billion as at 31 December 2014. Despite seeing gross revenue for the whole of 2014 grow by 12.1% to S$100.3 million from a year ago, the trust’s net property income (NPI) actually declined by 9.2% to S$72.95 million. The decline was partly due to a huge 200% increase in property expenses for the trust. Income available for distribution to Sabana REIT’s unitholders followed suit with a 16.4% drop to S$51.6 million.

IIRA Reaffirms Fiduciary Ratings of Islamic Insurance Company

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed the Takaful Financial Strength (TFS) rating of The Islamic Insurance Company (TIIC) in Jordan at 'A' (Single A). Outlook on the assigned rating is 'Stable'. The fiduciary score has been reassessed in the range of '71-75', which indicates that protection factors are adequate. The assigned rating derives strength from TIIC 's franchise as a Shari'a compliant operator that builds on the reputation of its parent, Jordan Islamic Bank, and which forms part of the Al Baraka Banking Group. Established in 1996, the company has grown at a steady rate and presently commands a market share of about 4% in Jordan's overall insurance sector.

Alkhabeer Capital signs agreement to enter Saudi real estate market

Alkhabeer Capital has signed a strategic agreement with Alareen Holding Company, Saudi Arabia-based real estate development company, to get exposure to the Saudi residential development market. Saudi Arabia will need significant supply of new housing projects in order to keep pace with the growing population. Due to the growing young population, the rapidly declining household sizes and evolving Saudi lifestyle, demand for residential units is expected to remain healthy across the Kingdom, according to Ahmad S. Ghouth, Deputy CEO at Alkhabeer Capital. The cooperation with Alareen enables Alkhabeer to access the growth potential,

AAOIFI to hold its 14th Annual Shari'a Conference on 22 and 23 March 2015

Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) will hold the 14th edition of its Annual Shari'a Conference on 22 and 23 March 2015 in Manama, Bahrain. The conference will be held under the auspices of the Central Bank of Bahrain. Discussions will include on topics relating to application of Shari'a to international Islamic finance products, services and practices as well as continuing innovation of Islamic finance to support further growth and expansion of the industry. Following the conference, AAOIFI will hold training sessions for its Certified Shari'a Adviser and Auditor (CSAA) and Certified Islamic Professional Accountant (CIPA) qualification programs from 24 to 27 March 2015.

Divergent forecasts for 2015 Sukuk issuances

Emerging headwinds could slow progress in the global Sukuk markets compared to 2014, even though 2015 is likely to be a solid year overall. Supporting Sukuk issuance is the still-positive economic performance of core markets such as the GCC and Malaysia, the implementation of new regulatory requirements, and increasing interest in Sukuk from countries that have not yet tapped the Sukuk market looking to diversify their investor base. However overall issuance volumes could be lower in 2015 as a result of reduced global liquidity should the US Federal Reserve begin increasing interest rates in the 2nd half of 2015. Lower oil prices also pose a threat to issuances.

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