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Early Eid Mubarak

Dear Reader,

An early Eid Mubarak wish for you and your families! May your fasting and good deeds being accepted. Looking forward to meet you in real life again.

Last Saturday I was participating with 1’300 other cyclists in the Swiss Alps in the event UNICEF Cycling for Children with the purpose to fundraise. Three laps done and around 45 km later and 1500 meters elevation I gathered around 1’100 USD. If you still look out which organization a final Ramadan donation, you may consider UNICEF as well. My fundraising page is still working till 15th of July: https://www.unicef.ch/en/cycling-for-children/action/michael-gassner

MSM releases new Shari’ah-compliant banks and #Takaful firms

Muscat Securities Market (MSM) has announced a list of Shari’ah-compliant companies for the first quarter of 2018. Acording to ONA, these firms business and financial behaviour conformed to the requirements of Islamic Shari’ah according to the rules approved by the Accounting and Auditing organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions.

Franklin Templeton #funds awarded QFI status in Saudi Arabia

Franklin Templeton is evaluating opportunities to expand its Shariah business, which grew 32 percent in 2017. Franklin Templeton funds have become Qualified Foreign Investors (QFI) in Saudi Arabia, allowing the funds to invest directly in the kingdom’s stock market, it was announced on Monday. Sandeep Singh, Franklin Templeton’s regional head of Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa and head of Islamic Business said, that they operated in the Middle East and North Africa for almost 20 years and that they will remain dedicated to growing their business alongside the region’s growth.

#Takaful pays debts to free 400 female inmates

The Kuwaiti Takaful Society for Prisoners Care assisted in releasing 400 female prisoners after paying their debts. Chairman Dr Musaed Mandani said the Society wanted to help more women, but unfortunately their debt runs in thousands of dinars which is beyond the capacity of the society.

Dubai Islamic donates $5.4m to RAK charity

The Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has donated Dh20 million ($5.4 million) in Zakat money to the Ras al-Khaimah Charity Association. The association will distribute the funds to those eligible for Zakat though legitimate channels during the month of Ramadan. Abdul Razzaq Al Abdullah, head of the Community Services Department of the DIB, handed the donation cheque to Abdulaziz Al Zaabi, chairman of the charity association. Al Zaabi thanked the DIB’s management for its generous support and considerable donation.

Growing Islamic finance firms lobby British government for #tax relief

Islamic finance firms are lobbying the British government for tax reforms, arguing that the treatment of some shariah-compliant structures is hindering their growth. Islamic financial transactions often require multiple title transfers of underlying assets, which can trigger double or even triple tax charges. More than 20 firms offer Islamic financial products in Britain. According to Samir Alamad, head of product development at Al Rayan Bank, capital gains taxes are affecting Islamic banks and their customers. He added that taxes on investment property and commercial finance also need clarification. Islamic banks are expanding, but there are concerns that future changes could also have an impact on the sector. The government’s 2017 budget has proposed changes starting from 2019 to the tax status of nonresident investors and the way they are taxed on real estate disposals.

Deloitte Islamic Finance insights series

This series of Islamic finance insights discusses social infrastructure trends and the value proposition of an alternative Sharia’- compliant funding model, which resembles sustainable finance, shares guidelines of responsible investment and sound governance practices. The study emphasizes and reflects on the collective views of an industry forum organized by Deloitte Middle East and supported by Deloitte UK, held last November in London. The paper defines the key enablers and influencers of building an effective Islamic finance. It also analyses the impact of this model in light of regulatory, market practice and governance requirements.

Dubai Islamic Bank sees huge demand for capital raising plan

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has announced a successful closing to its capital raising programme. The issuance of 1.6 billion additional shares at price of AED3.11 per share was announced in April with the aim to boost the core capital of the bank by over AED5 billion ($1.36 billion). According to DIB's Group CEO Dr Adnan Chilwan, growth remains on the horizon as the bank’s financial position has become stronger than ever before with improved asset quality and balance sheet. He added that the capital boost will help maintain the bank's "competitive edge".

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Funds $32.2 Million Deal Of A #UK Property

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) UK, has arranged a Sharia’a-compliant transaction to finance the acquisition of Lateral House, located in Leeds, UK. The deal involves a sum of $32.2 million on behalf of an Abu Dhabi-based private banking client. Earlier this year the bank arranged the acquisition of The Hub, located at the Aztec West Business Park, Bristol, for $43.4 million on behalf of a private Saudi based client. Lateral House is a modern Grade A office building providing 95,317 square feet of net lettable commercial office space. ADIB was the first UAE-based bank providing Islamic financial services to be licensed to operate in the UK. Today, it is just one of six banks in the UK providing Sharia-compliant services.

#Morocco to issue first sovereign Islamic bond worth 1 bln dirhams

Morocco is preparing to issue its first sovereign sukuk worth 1 billion dirhams ($105 million). According to Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid, the legal framework is now prepared and issuance is expected in the coming weeks. Earlier, the cabinet adopted a decree allowing financial authorities to define different types of sovereign sukuk, in line with the opinion of Morocco's council of Muslim scholars. Last year, Morocco's central bank approved five requests to open Islamic banks and allowed subsidiaries of three French banks to sell Islamic products. Morocco is the most advanced among its North African neighbours in developing Islamic finance, but Tunisia and Algeria have also started to explore Islamic banking.

Opinion: Why there's no better time for GCC's #fintech revolution

As financial technologies continue to develop, one region in particular stands to benefit: the Gulf. This isn’t a revolution that is far off, it is happening today. For the countries of the GCC, fintech couldn’t arrive at a better time. The countries of the Gulf are all working to diversify their economies away from a dependence on fossil fuels. Bahrain has already launched its FinTech Bay, which has the mission of accelerating local early-stage fintech companies, as well as foreign companies to establish regional offices in Bahrain. In September this year DIFC’s FinTech Hive will launch the second edition of its accelerator programme for fintech innovators. The 2018 edition has also been expanded to include "insurtech", as well as Islamic finance and regulatory technology ("regtech") solutions.

UNHCR calls on Muslims to aid refugee families through #Zakat contributions

UNHCR, the UN's Refugee Agency, is counting on the generosity of Muslims to allocate their Zakat to refugee families before the end of the Holy Month. UNHCR provides much-needed cash assistance to extremely vulnerable Syrian refugee families without any alternative sources of income. Zakat contributions this year have already saved 1,152 refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon from falling deeper into debt and poverty, and from the risk of exploitation. However, 5,465 families are still in urgent need of sustainable cash assistance. A contribution of approximately Dhs/ SAR 8,000 ($2,000) feeds, clothes and houses an extremely vulnerable family for a year. According to UNHCR Head of Private Sector Partnerships Houssam Chahine, Zakat allocation is guaranteed to make an immediate difference in the lives of refugee communities in the Middle East.

The Islamic Development Bank Launches New Brand for the First Time in its History

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has been undergoing significant strategic reform in the last year, led by the Bank’s new President, H.E. Dr Bandar Hajjar. The new brand identity maintains the core elements of the IsDB’s heritage while signalling modernity, independence and transparency. The IsDB’s mission includes equipping people to drive their own economic and social progress at scale; putting the necessary infrastructure in place to enable them to fulfil their potential; building collaborative partnerships between public and private sectors. The bank aims to use the latest science, technology and innovation solutions to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Algosaibi signs grant agreement with Ebdaa Bank

The Algosaibi Holding Group has signed a grant agreement with Ebdaa Bank. This grant of BD100,000 ($263,000) will enhance the bank’s financial solvency and increase its ability to expand borrowers list which currently includes more than 2,500 borrowers. The agreement was signed by Dr Khalid Al Ghazawi, CEO of Ebdaa Bank, and Fawaz Algosaibi, CEO of Algosaibi Holding. As a nonprofit social financing, Ebdaa Bank seeks to help low-income Bahraini make their way to business. Fawaz Algosaibi praised the efforts made by Ebdaa Bank to provide easy financing for low-incomers and for the prudent management practices implemented by the Bank. He expressed his full confidence in the ability of the bank to manage the amount of support and maximize the benefits.

Fitch: #UAE Reforms Aid #Sukuk Market; Implementation Still Key

The UAE's Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) said that issuers of Islamic securities should improve disclosure. Issuers should specify how transaction resources and revenues would be treated if a security were deemed no longer compatible with the provisions of sharia. Issuers should also specify whether the Islamic securities being issued are tradeable under sharia rules. In addition, the SCA set out basic provisions for the composition and responsibilities of sharia boards. The SCA regulation provides a general framework for disclosure around these issues, not a detailed template. Nevertheless, the regulation is one of a number of initiatives that could support the UAE's sukuk market.

Lombard Odier launches Shari'ah-compliant #investment offering

Lombard Odier has launched a full suite of Shari'ah-compliant investment solutions. Arnaud Leclercq, Limited Partner at Lombard Odier Group said that since the offering began as a bespoke creation for one client, it has grown from a $10 million to in the hundreds of millions, primarily for investors in the Middle East. Lombard Odier's Islamic investments have averaged 4-5% returns since 2012. The goal is to reach $1 billion in total Islamic investment the next 3-5 years. The investments are a mix between Sukuk and equities. Equities are chosen using a combination of MSCI's Islamic Index and Lombard Odier's in-house experts. The clients serviced with these solutions are primarily from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Lombard Odier plans to increase its presence in the Middle East with an office in Abu Dhabi.

Gassner's picture

Exciting weekend- going on fundraising; Swiss vote for full money

Dear Readers,

The coming weekend has two highlights for me:

1st: On Saturday I participate the second time at Unicef Cycling for Children. Going with my bike in the Swiss alps and cycle there about 800 elevation meters one lap over 20 km. Looking forward to see whether I can do more than one lap this time. Looking even further towards breaking my last year's fundraising of around 1000 USD.

Please make some of your money avalaible for children and support UNICEF (1 CHF arond 1 USD):

https://www.unicef.ch/en/cycling-for-children/action/michael-gassner

2nd: On Sunday Switzerland conducts a public vote regarding full reserve money. Still the projections are as such that the public initiative will not receive a majority, but global polling previously has shown various surprise elections already. Even the Financial Times had a favourable opinion piece by Martin Wolf today asking the Swiss people to vote for Vollgeld:

Better late than never? #Brunei and its role in the #Fintech revolution

Singapore battles with Australia and Hong Kong to be the region’s leading Fintech hub. She has moved ahead of her Southeast Asian neighbours, including newcomers like Brunei. Brunei launched its Fintech office in 2017 and at the same time put in place regulatory guidelines. However, Brunei’s Fintech ecosystem remains underdeveloped. Brunei has good reasons to pursue Fintech, it must start to reduce its economic dependence on gas and oil. The country has already made progress including collaboration with South Korea. Both countries provided US$30 million. They planned to set up a Fintech innovation centre. In return, South Korean companies gained access to the Islamic market. Brunei also signed a Fintech agreement with Singapore, Hong Kong and Great Britain.

#Malaysia to retain position as world's premier #sukuk issuer

Malaysia will remain the market leader in global sukuk issuance despite recent delays and cancellations of mega projects. CIMB Islamic Bank CEO Rafe Haneef said the delays of some mega projects would have some impact sukuk deals, but it is still business as usual for Malaysia. Last year, Malaysia had issuances of over US$50 billion. According to Moody’s Investor Services, Malaysia continues to remain the world’s largest sukuk with an estimated 44% of total sovereign sukuk outstanding in 2017. Issuance grew 17% in 2017 to some US$100 billion. CIMB Investment Bank topped Bloomberg’s Underwriter League Table for ringgit bonds for 12 years running. Going forward, Rafe expects issuances will come from both the infrastructure and corporate space.

GII Islamic REIT acquires $32mln office in Dubai

GII Islamic REIT has acquired an AED 117.54 million two-floor office property in Downtown Dubai developed by Emaar Properties. The property is under a lease agreement with a global professional services firm, whose term will end after three years. The property was sold in consideration of $32 million with gross yields of around 8%. According to Mohammed AlHassan, CEO of GII, this is a high-quality acquisition for the REIT, and is consistent with GII REIT’s strategy to distribute 8% annual dividend to investors net of all costs.

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