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International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation releases 2019 Annual Development Effectiveness Report

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) released its 2019 Annual Development Effectiveness Report (ADER). In 2019, ITFC approved US$5.8 billion trade financing. Of this, US$5 billion was disbursed towards improving the livelihoods of millions of people in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Disbursement in Asian and CIS member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) stood at US$2.6 billion, while in African OIC countries, total disbursements amounted to US$2.4 billion. In 2019, ITFC signed framework agreements worth US$4.8 billion with 9 countries and mobilized US$1.2 million through grants for trade development interventions in agriculture, financial institutions, capacity building and trade promotion.

Gulf banks could see second wave of mergers after pandemic dust settles

The impact of the novel coronavirus on the global economy is growing and continues to shock the markets. S&P Global Ratings acknowledges a high degree of uncertainty about the rate of spread and peak of the COVID-19 outbreak. It comes as no surprise that the pandemic will halt the growth of GCC Islamic and conventional banks this year as they focus on preserving asset quality rather than business expansion. The delay of Expo 2020 for Dubai and potential cancelation of the pilgrimage season for Saudi Arabia, may result in a stronger impact on the regional economies. When the dust settles and the full effect of current conditions on banks’ financials is visible, there could be a second wave of mergers and acquisitions in the region.

NMC Health administrators are said to have started selling off assets

Administrators of NMC Health have started selling off assets of the troubled Middle Eastern hospital operator as they seek funds to pay back creditors. Administrators are planning to start a sale process for NMC’s lucrative fertility business as soon as June or July. They are considering eventually selling most of the company’s assets, potentially including the flagship hospital business, which is the biggest private health-care provider in the Middle East.

BIBF and UK firm Cogneum developing platform to converge Shariah governance and UN SDGs

The Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) is working with UK-based developer Cogneum on a Shariah governance software platform. The cloud-based platform is meant to allow Islamic banks and financial institutions to streamline their internal Shariah governance processes, facilitate the integration of Maqasid al Shariah and the UN SDGs in their workflow. The software will help reduce charitable write-offs by Islamic banks due to Shariah non-compliance issues. The partners will initially target the platform for retail Islamic banks. BIBF director Mujtaba Khalid said the Shariah governance framework of the software solution will be based on AAOIFI Standards but can also be customized as per the banks’ Shariah governance manual. He added that the platform can also help organisations in the areas of green bonds, sukuk and sustainability risk reporting.

Virus crisis highlights potential role of Islamic finance in reaching sustainable development goals

Amid an ongoing severe global healthcare crisis some research institutions and scientific entities are wondering if and how the world will change after the virus has eventually subsided. A new report issued last week is shedding light on the anticipated fundamental changes of the corporate world in terms of economic and social sustainability. The report is entitled "Islamic Finance and the SDGs: Framing the Opportunity" and is released as the first edition of the new "Thought Leadership Series" by the Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC) in partnership with the International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance. The report states that the Islamic finance industry could play a key role in contributing to achieving the SGDs formulated by the United Nations. The UKIFC acknowledges that Islamic finance institutions are just at an early stage of engagement with the SDGs. Steps to be taken were therefore an improvement in understanding of how any given organization can effectively engage with the SDGs.

#Indonesia to Roll Out Relief Fund for Banks to Ease Impacts from Pandemic

The Indonesian government has issued a regulation for the relief fund to the banking sector to cope with the financial impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak. The regulation states that the government may channel fund to the so-called participating banks. The participating banks will in turn pass the fund on to the “executing banks”, smaller banks who meet certain requirements. President Joko Widodo has earlier urged banks to loosen their terms on debtors and restructure loans as many are unable to repay in time amid massive job losses or salary cuts due to the outbreak.

Albaraka Türk's 5th International Calligraphy Competition Exhibition on Instagram

The fifth International Albaraka Calligraphy Competition Exhibition meets art lovers on Instagram. Albaraka Türk continues to boost its success in culture and art events as well as in participation banking. The fifth edition of the bank’s International Calligraphy Competition Exhibition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and later went online on Instagram. The works in the competition have been decorated with illumination and included in the collection. The exhibition has been given a new form with unique content and presented to art lovers on Albaraka Sanat's official Instagram account ( https://www.instagram.com/albarakasanat/) with over 70 stories in total.

World’s first Halal network launched aiming to tap $5 tr market

The world’s First Halal Angels Network was launched to help investors, businesses, entrepreneurs and startups during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Network would provide huge market opportunities to tap the $5 trillion worth Halal consumer global market. It is founded by Indian American Dr. Tausif Malik, who is a serial entrepreneur based out of Pune, India, and Chicago, USA. He said India is the biggest manufacturer of Halal consumer goods and has huge market opportunities in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. Halal Angels Network would be the 1st Angels Network backed by Blockchain technology. The areas of interest for investments would be future technologies (Blockchain, Fintech AI, etc), Modest Fashion & Cosmetics, Retail, Pharmaceuticals, Food Cafe & Restaurants, Processed Food & Tourism.

NMC CFO and family left UAE on Indian repatriation flight: reports

NMC Health is at the centre of a multi-billion dollar fraud investigation, but its chief financial officer (CFO) Suresh Krishnamoorthy has left the UAE and returned to India. Krishnamoorthy stepped down as CFO in 2017 when Prasanth Manghat took over as the NMC CEO, but was reinstated in February this year when the company's financial troubles came to light. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), which has $981 million worth of exposure in the healthcare provider, successfully applied to UK courts to have the company placed into administration and NMC has subsequently been removed from the London Stock Exchange.

Gulf bonds prove resilience amid virus-induced adversity

As investors dealt with volatility across most of its prized asset classes, Gulf bonds are emerging resilient after yet another crisis. The region’s debt markets did witness instances of sharp sell-off in the last few weeks, but analysts still see them ending the year strong. According to capital markets expert Anita Yadav, this year total new bond issuances will likely surpass the record $101 billion raised in 2019. So far this year, the GCC bond markets have stayed resilient, having in recent weeks only sold off 60% of emerging market debt and roughly 50% of high-yield debt. Net debt of sovereigns in the region still remains relatively low and credit ratings are relatively high compared with that of other emerging market countries.

GCC banks face 'earnings shock' from lower oil price, Covid-19

GCC banks will see significantly reduced revenue as they face an earnings shock from the oil price drop and Covid-19 pandemic. S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Mohamed Damak says the coronavirus will take a toll on important sectors such as real estate, hospitality, and consumer-related, but these will be relatively short lived and he forecasts a gradual recovery in nonoil activity from third-quarter 2020. In his view, if the recovery takes longer than expected, GCC banks could feel greater pressure. In March, S&P revised its outlooks of some UAE banks including First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Mashreqbank, Sharjah Islamic Bank and National Bank of Fujairah to negative. Most central banks in the GCC have already come up with stimulus packages to help the banking system withstand the economic fallout. The Central Bank of the UAE on Sunday doubled the size of its stimulus package to Dh256 billion.

SAJIDA Foundation combats Covid-19 as beacon of hope

Microfinance institution SAJIDA Foundation has rapidly diverted its resources and operations to tackle the pandemic from multiple frontiers. On the health front, one of its secondary-care hospitals have been dedicated to the treatment and isolation of Covid-19 patients, while the other has continued general medical services focusing particularly on maternal and child care. At the same time, nearly 2,000 field forces have reached 0.4 million microfinance members with life-saving information regarding the prevention and treatment of Covid-19. Mass awareness raising efforts have included leaflet distribution as well as household visits, while maintaining social distancing measures. SAJIDA’s members have also benefitted from a credit shield facility which supports members through loan outstanding waivers and cash benefits during emergencies.

Should big money give poor nations debt relief to fight COVID-19?

On May 1 G20 nations gave debtors a payment holiday until the end of the year, giving developing nations more time to pay for healthcare during the pandemic. Despite more than 100 countries applying to the International Monetary Fund for emergency aid, the IMF and World Bank have not been so generous, insisting nations keep repaying interest on debt. Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said private institutions are owed $18bn by the world's poorest nations this year. If they were to suspend half that amount, that would provide an additional $9bn to fight COVID-19.

Loan moratorium: Borrowers need to inform banks on consent, says finance minister

Malaysian borrowers who wish to continue with the six-month moratorium need to inform their respective banks of their consent via the banks’ designated platforms. Although the moratorium is automatic starting April 1, the borrowers’ consent is still legally required. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said starting from May 1, bank customers with hire-purchase loans and fixed rate Islamic financing will receive a notification on the steps they must take to complete the deferment process under the six-month moratorium on loan and financing payments. Customers will be notified via SMS, email or registered mail from their banking institutions.

#Bahrain's Al Baraka Bank looks for acquisitions as coronavirus pandemic hits valuations

Bahrain's Al Baraka Banking Group plans to expand into India, China and Indonesia as the coronavirus pandemic pushes valuations down. The pandemic, which has tipped the global economy into a recession, slated to be the deepest since the Great Depression, has dented lending. Al Baraka Banking Group plans to setup a small commercial bank in China focusing on trade financing to capitalise on growing commercial ties. In Indonesia, the lender has already explored the possibility of taking a stake in Bank Muamalat three years ago and will continue to look for further opportunities. Al Baraka currently operates in Sudan, Turkey, South Africa, Algeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

Foundations Help Launch Financial Inclusion Nonprofit

Sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Mojaloop software project has announced the launch of the Mojaloop Foundation. With additional support from founding sponsors Omidyar Network, the Rockefeller Foundation, Coil, Google, and ModusBox, the foundation will work to advance its free open-source software as a public good in service of financial inclusion globally. The software serves as a blueprint for how to simplify and reduce the cost of payment interoperability. This will enable banks, digital service providers, government agencies, NGOs, and other entities to develop tools that increase opportunities for low-income and unbanked individuals to access financial services.

Unified legislative framework for Islamic finance launched

Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the launch of a new initiative to create a unified global legal and legislative framework for the Islamic finance sector. The framework is set to enable the Islamic economy to expand its reach and responds to calls for greater standardisation within the sector. A memorandum of understanding has already been signed between Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). Furthermore, Norton Rose Fulbright has been recently appointed to provide legal advice in drafting the code for the global framework.

Islamic bank, Türk Eximbank ink $100 mln deal to aid SMEs

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and Türk Eximbank signed a syndicated murabaha deal of $100 million to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The new murabaha facility is expected to increase companies' export capacity and workforce, similar to the previous one. According to IsDB, the new facility will play a significant role to alleviate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the manufacturing sector by providing long-term funding to companies to finance their capital expenditures.

South Africa working on rand-denominated #sukuk issue

The Republic of South Africa is working on a rand-denominated sukuk for the financial year 2020/2021. Details regarding the size, tenor and structure of the Shariah-compliant notes will be made in due course. The government may also consider issuing a second sovereign U.S. dollar sukuk in the long term. South Africa issued its first-ever international sovereign sukuk in 2014. The deal consisted of a $500 million 5.75-year note, offering a profit rate of 3.90%.

Launched World’s First Halal Angels Network to promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Startups to tap $5 trillion, Halal consumer market

The World’s First Halal Angels Network was launched to promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Startups to tap the $5 trillion Halal consumer market. It was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic to help investors, businesses, entrepreneurs & startups overcome these challenging times. The network is founded by Indian American Dr. Tausif Malik and is the first Angels Network backed by Blockchain technology. The areas of interest for investments would be future technologies (Blockchain, Fintech AI, etc), Modest Fashion & Cosmetics, Retail, Pharmaceuticals, Food Cafe & Restaurants, Processed Food & Tourism. Halal Angels Network is setting up offices in GCC, Europe, and South East Asia and is planning to host Halal Angels & Venture Capital Two Day Summit 2021, for Networking, Startup Showcase & Strategic Partnership.

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