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#Dubai strategy centre for #Islamic #finance close to its #goals

A strategy centre that was tasked to implement a strategy for Dubai to become a global hub for the Islamic economy can report that progress was made on about 75 % of its initiatives to this date.
The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, that was set up in 2013, stated yesterday it had held a board meeting on Tuesday which was attended by Sultan Al ¬Mansouri, the Minister of Economy as well as the chairman of the centre, to discuss these achievements.
The centre identified key sectors for developing three segments of Dubai‘s Islamic economy: Islamic finance, halal products and Islamic lifestyle including culture, art, fashion and family tourism.
The minister said: "Dubai and the UAE are instrumental in raising awareness about the culture of Islamic economy worldwide and boosting global interest in adopting its principles. The Islamic economy ¬strategy adopted by Dubai and the wider UAE is truly unique in its ability to foresee economic changes, offer secure investment options and utilise bonds to finance major projects across the globe."

#Turkish Banking Team Plans #Iran Visit to Resolve Halkbank Dispute

A delegation from the Central Bank of Turkey will soon meet their Iranian counterparts in Tehran to remove hurdles in the way of bilateral banking relations. Particular difficulties include Iranian citizens' bank accounts in the Turkish Halkbank. The banking ties were overshadowed by the detention of a senior Halkbank official in the US in March for allegedly violating Iran sanctions. Mehmet Hakan Atilla was accused of conspiring with Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, to channel hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system on behalf of Iranian companies. Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci is also scheduled to visit Iran on June 21 to negotiate a preferential trade agreement between the two sides.

Bank Islam #Brunei said to choose #Malaysia for US$500mil IPO

Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam has picked Malaysia as the destination for a planned initial public offering (IPO) that could raise as much as US$500mil. The IPO would be the first from a company based in Brunei, an oil-rich country without its own stock exchange. First-time share sales in Malaysia raised US$833mil so far this year, up from US$235mil during the same period last year. Shareholders of Bank Islam include the Brunei finance ministry, the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation, private equity firm Fajr Capital and about 6,000 Bruneian investors. The lender had 7.5 billion Brunei dollars (US$5.4bil) of total group assets at the end of 2015. Its Tier 1 capital adequacy ratio was 23.3%.

Source: 

http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/05/31/bank-islam-brunei-said-to-choose-malaysia-for-us$500mil-ipo/

Why London Will Remain The Islamic Finance Hub Of The West

London’s popularity as an Islamic finance hub emerged in 2013, when Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled plans to develop the city into the Western capital of Islamic finance. In 2014, London took a step further when Britain became the first country outside the Islamic world to issue sovereign Sukuk. The key benefit of this policy was attracting additional liquidity from investors in the Middle East and Asia adhering to Islamic finance principles. The London Stock Exchange is a key global venue for the issuance of Sukuk. According to the LSE Group official website, over $48bn has been raised through 65 issuances. Other centres such as Dublin and Luxembourg also have ambitions to attract Islamic financial services. Furthermore, in April this year Saudi Arabia listed its biggest ever sharia-compliant bond on the Irish Stock Exchange, so the competition between the Western financial centres is more intense than ever.

#Oman's Islamic banking assets reach RO3.3bn

Total assets of Islamic banks and windows in Oman reached to RO3.3bn at the end of March 2017. This accounts for 10.8% of total banking system assets in the country. According to Central Bank of Oman (CBO) statistics, Islamic banking entities provided total financing of RO2.6bn as at the end of March 2017 compared to RO1.9bn a year ago. Total deposits held with Islamic banks and windows also registered a strong growth to reach RO2.4bn in March 2017 from RO1.7bn in March 2016. The statistical bulletin said the financial position of the banks in Oman in terms of asset quality, provision coverage, capital adequacy and profitability remained sound. The gross non-performing loans as a proportion of total loans and advances stood at 2.1% at the end of December 2016. Private sector deposits, which accounted for 66.1% of total deposits with conventional banks, increased by 4.6% to RO12.6bn in March 2017 from RO12bn a year ago.

Sharia-compliant, gold-backed digital #currency OneGram’s ICO kicks off

OneGram, a Sharia-compliant, gold-backed digital currency, has raised $461,497.59 so far in its OGC token crowdsale. The crowdsale will run for a total of 120 days, in which OneGram seeks to raise $500 million by selling over 12 million OGC tokens. For participating, investors are required to create an account on GoldGuard and purchase gold there. According to the official release, once the cryptocurrency is deployed on the blockchain, there will be a 1% transaction fee. 70% of transaction fees are reinvested to buy more gold, increasing the amount of gold that backs each token. 25% is used for development and operations, 2.5% is used for charity donations, and 2.5% is used to reward the POS miners. Sharia compliance is a key differentiator for the OGC token, the founders of OGC developed the solution so it would fit within the parameters of shariah law.

STC Establishes Venture Capital #Fund

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has decided to form a $500 million venture capital fund to develop digital innovation in the region. During a news conference in Riyadh, STC CEO Khaled Biyari said the huge growth of e-commerce in Saudi Arabia represents an additional value to the expected success of the new fund. He stressed that Saudi Arabia has ambitious youths who have entered the field of e-commerce and the digital sector and achieved success. STC Ventures CEO Abdulrahman Tarabzouni said that the first investments of the new fund will be launched in the first quarter of 2017.

Bank Melli Iran Revamping European Branches

Bank Melli Iran (BMI) is planning to overhaul its European branches after clearing the procedures both inside the country and abroad. BMI's director for Foreign Exchange, Gholamreza Panahi, said the bank held negotiations with European officials to enhance its presence in the continent. He added that the bank's Najaf branch in Iraq is also ready to launch and expand the bank's network in East Asia. Panahi said BMI established correspondent relations with 25 foreign banks, which means connecting to a banking network that makes it possible to benefit from their wide range of services. The official also said BMI was the first Iranian bank to be reconnected to Swift, the international interbank messaging network, after the sanctions were lifted in January last year.

Financial sustainability imperative to supporting Awqafs

Waqf or the plural, Awqaf, provides funding towards initiatives that promote social and community welfare. Due to various reasons, Waqf had gradually become less popular, but it has now re-emerged as a beneficial force of good within society. In the UAE, a General Waqf Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments has been set up by government to coordinate Waqf institutions. The future growth of Awqafs require them to be managed in a sustainable way, that is to run them as modern financial institutions. A lot of Awqaf organisations in the UAE invest in properties and some have surplus liquidity. As a result, today Awqafs are also tapping the capital markets and there are various initiatives to issue Sukuks backed by Waqf land for mosques, schools and orphanages.

Zukri: Islamic banking sector ripe for M&As

According to outgoing Bank Islam director Datuk Seri Zukri Samat, there are too many Islamic banks in Malaysia, which means that this segment of the local financial sector is ripe for mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Zukri is also advocating direct listings of such banks. There are 16 Islamic banks in Malaysia of which two are full-fledged banks, eight are subsidiaries of conventional banks and the remaining, foreign banks. Zukri hopes to see the creation of mega Islamic banks that can potentially become regional champions under the Asean banking integration framework. It is not yet known who will replace Zukri, but one name has already been submitted to Bank Negara for approval. Bank Islam’s parent company BIMB is at the same time contemplating a group-wide restructuring to fulfil regulatory compliance requirements.

KFH Said in Talks for #Bahrain Ahli United Bank, Kuwait Unit

Kuwait Finance House is in talks to buy Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank in a deal that would create one of the Middle East’s largest Islamic lenders with $85 billion of assets. However, there is no guarantee that a deal will take place and final agreements haven’t been reached yet. Lower oil prices are forcing Gulf lenders to consolidate for scale. Abu Dhabi lenders National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank recently merged to create a regional powerhouse with $175 billion of assets. Qatar’s Masraf Al Rayan is planning to combine with unlisted Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar to create the country’s largest Islamic lender. Ahli United in Bahrain declined to comment. KFH shares have lost 0.6% so far this year, giving the lender a market value of $9.3 billion. Ahli United shares have jumped 16% so far this year, giving it a $5.57 billion market capitalization.

Many teenagers struggle to understand money matters: OECD

The latest OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test shows that around one in four students are unable to make financial decisions. Some 48,000 15-year-olds took part in the test, which evaluated teenagers' personal finance skills. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said young people often lack the education, training and tools to make informed decisions on financial matters. Beijing had the highest average score, followed by the Flemish Community of Belgium, Canada, the Russian Federation, the Netherlands and Australia. Students who do well in financial literacy are also likely to perform well in the PISA reading and mathematics assessment. The survey also revealed that, on average, 56% of students hold a bank account, but two out of three students do not have the skills to manage an account.

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Ramadan Karim - Fundraising for UNICEF!

Ramadan Karim!

As you may know, I will participate at the UNICEF Cycling for Children event in Crans-Montana, Switzerland on 10th of June. It is a challenge to support raising funds for the much needed children work of UNICEF.

Ramadan is the month of giving, and who should be more worthy than the children?

Millions of children are facing death right now. More than 1,4 million children in just 4 countries (Nigeria, South-Soudan, Somalia and Yemen) are about to face the worst famine since World War 2. In Syria – after 6 years of devastating war – 2016 has been the year with most child deaths. UNICEF is on the ground in all these countries to help – and we join CYCLING FOR CHILDREN to make a difference.

Please make you donation now, online, simple and spread the word:

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

If I can cycle 750 m elevation over 20 kilometers - you surely can support and motivate me!!!

#Oman tightens price on $2bn #sukuk amid rush of orders

Oman's $2bn sukuk sale lured orders for more than three times the issue size. The sultanate set final terms on its seven year sukuk at 235 basis points over the mid-swap rate, from initial guidance of about 270 basis points. Landesbank Berlin Investor Lutz Roehmeyer said there was a good demand and now a rush to get an allocation with accepting even less yield. Alizz islamic bank, Citigroup, Dubai Islamic Bank, Gulf International Bank, HSBC Holdings, JPMorgan Chase and Standard Chartered are managing the deal. The country's last foray into international debt markets was a $5bn three part offering of dollar bonds in March.

#Kuwait's Noor to Weigh Stake Sale of #Pakistan's Meezan Bank

#Kuwait’s Noor Financial Investment is considering the sale of its 49% stake in Pakistan’s largest Islamic lender Meezan Bank. The stake has a market value of about $396 million at the current market price, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Noor Financial hired advisers to assess opportunities, but it has not tasked the consultants with either increasing or decreasing its stake in Meezan Bank. Shares in Noor Financial gained 5.9% by 12:30 p.m. in Safat, Kuwait, the highest since April 16. Meezan advanced 3.6% in Karachi trading to a record high.

#Morocco opens first Islamic bank branch months after approval

The first Islamic bank in Morocco, Umnia Bank, has opened its doors five months after the central bank's approval. The North African country long rejected Islamic banking because of concern about Islamist movements, but its financial markets lack liquidity and investors. Umnia Bank is a joint venture of Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and Moroccan lender Credit Immobilier et Hotelier (CIH Bank). Umnia recently opened a total of three agencies, two in Casablanca and one in Rabat. The bank plans to open more branches throughout the country. Morocco is the most advanced of North African neighbours in developing Islamic finance. Tunisia and Algeria are also starting to explore the sector.

Islamic finance is making a case for ‘impact investment’

Islamic finance is increasingly being discovered as a vehicle to support sustainable development goals by a method called "impact investing". For this the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development launched the "Global Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Platform". A report was also launched which sheds light on the potentials of Islamic finance in impact investment. The basic idea is that ethical values within finance are deeply rooted in Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Ethical and sustainable investment products can tap a wider range of demand if they are made Shariah-compliant to appeal to Muslims. At the same time, non-Muslims may embrace them if they are designed for an ethical purpose. Malaysia was the first to announce guidelines for the issuance of socially responsible sukuk as early as 2014. Meanwhile, Islamic finance companies from the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and GCC countries joined impact investing through Islamic finance.

Amana Bank gets regulatory nod to bring in fresh capital with exception to single shareholder limit

As an exception to the banking sector single shareholder limit, the Central Bank has allowed one of the shareholders of Sri Lanka’s Amana Bank to own up to 30% of the issued shares of the bank. Currently IDB has 120.4 million shares or 9.62% stake in Amana Bank, Sri Lanka’s first non-interest based Islamic bank. In recent times, the Central Bank had allowed several banks to have their key shareholders own even beyond 70% such as in the case of Union Bank and Cargills Bank. But they must gradually bring those stakes down to the regulatory limits over time. Amana Bank is required to meet its minimum regulatory core capital of Rs.7.5 billion by June 30, 2017. Given the performance of the share price and the non-receipt of dividends, shareholders may not show appetite to contribute for any fresh capital calls by the bank.

VEB to build bridge to Islamic world through Abu Dhabi, Iran and Bahrein

The 9th international economic summit is taking place in Tatarstan, Russia. The plenary session was dedicated to the discussion of partnership financing to develop relations between Russia and Organisations of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Islamic Finance World Leader Ashruff Jamal was the moderator of the plenary session. Tatarstan's President Rustam Minnikhanov said Tatarstan was making its first steps in Islamic banking. One year ago Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Evgeny Bushmin claimed the Bank of Russia and legislation were not ready to spread Islamic banking. In answer to that, Sberbank Deputy Chairman Oleg Ganeyev replied many questions are arising while implementing Islamic banking, but it is possible to work even within the acting Russian legislation. Vnesheconombank (VEB) Chairman Sergey Gorkov announced the appearance of VEB bank offices in Abu Dhabi, Iran and Bahrein.

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