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#Islamic #finance climbs higher on UNDP agenda

The 72nd session of the UN General Assembly was held from September 19 to 25 in New York. The event was co-organised by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). It emphasised that the successful implementation of the SDG (Global Goals) require a significant amount of financial resources. The UNDP once more mentioned Islamic finance and how it could be tapped as a scalable funding source for global development. According to Magdy Martínez-Soliman, UN assistant secretary general, the gap in SDG financing is currently estimated at $2.5tn every year. He noted that official development assistance alone is not an adequate source of financing, but Islamic finance could effectively come to the rescue. As a key driver, the IDB has established the Global Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Platform (GIFIIP) to create the framework of the investing ecosystem. The GIFIIP’s role is also the matchmaking between Islamic finance investors and other players, such as business incubators, development organisations and inclusive business ventures seeking capital.

BisB denies reported #Sukuk issuance plans

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BISB) has issued a statement denying its reported intention to issue a Sukuk. The statement, signed by BisB CEO Hassan Amin Al Jarrar, said that the bank would not consider such an approach, at least not within the coming 12 to 18 months. The report about the bank was published Tuesday 19 September 2017 in AlBilad’s press release. The bank affirmed the rest of the report, namely, the rise of the bitcoin industry, applying the value added tax, and the bank’s preparedness towards digital and mobile payments.

#Sukuk market great hope may never recover from Dana

Dana Gas is an independent natural gas supplier based in Sharjah. Its dispute with investors is now making its way not only through UAE courts, but through English courts as well. Dana’s gone so far down the road to avoid its debt repayments that the affair could easily scare international investors away from the sector. The fallout can be seen in the new issue market. While sovereign sales are carrying on, the broader corporate and financials market in the Middle East has been awaiting resolution of this dispute. In June Dana claimed that its $700mn outstanding sukuk were non-compliant with Shariah law and the money it paid out to holders of the bonds should be returned. Bondholders objected and suggested an immediate payment of half of the $700mn face amount outstanding and the due date for the balance extended for three years. The case is now disputed in Sharjah and London, where it stays until October 12, to allow court proceedings in Sharjah to conclude.

New round of GCC bank #mergers in the offing

GCC's banking sector is expected to see a new round of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the wake of the latest such move initiated by Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank of Bahrain. According to U Capital, at least five M&A deals are in various stages of discussion. The new round of M&A follows the merger between National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and First Gulf Bank (FGB) in the UAE, resulting in creation of the regions second biggest bank. Combined assets of four top conventional banks in the region stand at $621 billion whereas the assets of entire Islamic banks in GCC stand at $563 billion as of second quarter 2017. According to banking sources, Masraf Al Rayan, International Bank of Qatar and Barwa Bank are in the due diligence phase. The three-way merger is expected to create the largest Islamic bank in Qatar. Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank are also said to be discussing a potential merger that would create the third-largest bank in Saudi Arabia.

The $101 Million syndicated #Murabahah financing facility for #Bahrain Islamic Bank closed

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BISB) has successfully closed a debut $101 million one-year Syndicated Murabahah Financing Facility. The Facility will be used for general funding purposes. Initially it was launched for $50 million and following strong interest BISB decided to utilise the significant over-subscription to increase the Facility size to $101 million. A total of eight banks from the GCC and Europe participated in this transaction. They include Bank ABC Islamic, Boubyan Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates Islamic, Sharjah Islamic Bank, National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah, The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, Federated Project and Trade Finance Tender Fund, and Federated Project and Trade Finance Core Fund. Sole Bookrunner and Coordinator was the Bahrain-based Bank ABC, which expressed its delight with the closure of the transaction and wished Bahrain Islamic Bank continued growth in the future.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank joins local #fintech hub

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) marked a new partnership with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) to promote the growth and development of the FinTech ecosystem in the UAE. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Sagheer Mufti, CEO at ADIB, and Richard Teng, CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM. ADIB and ADGM participate in joint innovation projects on digital and mobile payments, blockchain and distributed ledgers and artificial intelligence. Both entities will also seek to develop local FinTech entrepreneurship through mentorship and knowledge transfer across incubation, accelerator, academic and internship programmes. ADIB continues to integrate pioneering FinTech solutions into its banking services. The bank has partnered with Fidor to launch the region’s first community-based digital bank. This year, ADIB launched its new generation of digital branch called ADIB Express and has revamped its internet banking platform to enable an intuitive online banking experience.

Bondholders push back on Dana Gas #sukuk invalidation claims in London court

Dana Gas sought to have US$700 million worth of Islamic bonds declared unlawful so it could avoid repaying its investors. The bondholder group, led by Blackrock, demanded in court that Dana Gas repays millions of pounds, or hand over stock in a subsidiary that runs its operations in Egypt. It also wanted the court to ban Dana Gas from issuing any new sukuk. The courtroom battle is notable for the absence of Dana Gas, which has been prevented from taking part because of an injunction in the UAE. Any prospect of an early conclusion has been disputed by Dana Gas, which has claimed that litigation could continue in the UAE and could last up to ten years. The trial in London, which is expected to last up to two weeks, is due to hear evidence from the former general counsel of Dana Gas.

Creditors tell High Court that Dana Gas #sukuk get-out is "absurd"

According to creditors, Dana's claim that it does not have to pay back its Islamic bonds because they are no longer sharia-compliant is "absurd" as repayment under such a scenario is covered in the original paperwork. United Arab Emirates energy producer Dana Gas said in June that its $700 million sukuk were unlawful and began proceedings to have this confirmed in British and UAE courts. The case could set a precedent for other sukuk issuers to refuse to redeem their debt obligations. Legal representatives for the creditors have asked the court to dismiss the Dana Gas claim and asked for permission to serve an exercise notice so they would be able to take action. Dana Gas and Deutsche Bank were not in court because of a last minute injunction obtained from a UAE court preventing them from taking part. Judge Leggatt said he would adjourn the trial until Oct. 12 to see if the Sharjah court in the UAE would lift the injunction preventing Dana Gas and Deutsche from participating in the UK proceedings.

#Sukuk: Borrowing for development without fear of interests

#Nigeria's Federal Government successfully concluded the issuance of N100billion sukuk on Friday, but the issuance has divided the country along religious lines. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) described the issuance as a subtle attempt by the Federal Government to Islamise Nigeria. Therefore, the body called on the government to abrogate the laws and framework behind the sukuk. But in its reaction, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), accused CAN of Islamophobia. NSCIA then appealed to CAN to tread the path of honour and refrain from statements causing disaffection and promoting disharmony that may lead to conflict in the country. According to Dr. Benedict Nwafor of the University of Lagos, for Nigeria sukuk is an opportunity for raising funds without raising the nation’s debt profile. Nwafor is of view that sukuk certificates can transfer state-owned projects to sukuk holders in case of default. He added that the government has to sort out clearly the scenario for a default and needs to educate the public on the benefits of sukuk.

Social Islami Bank buys into IDB's #realestate #fund

#Bangladesh-based Social Islami Bank (SIBL) is set to invest $2 million in a real estate-focused private equity fund managed by the Islamic Development Bank. The fund is called the Awqaf Properties Investment Fund (APIF) and aims to invest in Awqaf real estate property that is socially, economically and financially viable in member countries of the IDB. SIBL's managing director, Amm Farhad, said the bank was investing in the project not for commercial reasons but for social welfare. In Bangladesh, APIF will start off with the construction of two towers, a multipurpose building and a university in Chittagong, with a total investment of $100 million. The bank will represent Bangladesh in the managerial committee of APIF, which has 8 IDB member countries in the board: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Iran, Bahrain, Jordan, Palestine and Malaysia.

New #fund offers opportunity to tap into global market

CIMB-Principal Asset Management (CIMB-Principal) announced the launch of its CIMB Islamic Global Equity Fund, the latest addition to its suite of 20 Islamic funds. The fund offers Malaysian retail and corporate investors an opportunity to tap into the growth prospects of global equities. It is currently available to investors in MYR with a minimum initial investment of RM500.The fund will invest a minimum of 70% and up to a maximum of 98% of its NAV in syariah-compliant global equities and equities-related securities. 28% of the Fund will be invested in sukuk, syariah-compliant money market instruments and Islamic Deposits. CIMB-Principal CEO Munirah Khairuddin says global equity markets continue to be in a sweet spot with strong earnings in both emerging and developed markets. She hopes to meet the target fund size of RM300 million in assets under management within a year of the fund’s inception.

Dubai’s Arqaam Capital launches specialist fixed income #funds in DIFC

Dubai-based investment bank Arqaam Capital has announced the launch of two specialist fixed income funds located within Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The high income fund will invest in emerging markets with a focus on the MENA region and will include a mixture of fixed and floating rate investments. The Islamic fixed income fund will invest in sukuk issued by sovereigns, quasi-sovereigns and corporates. Arqaam Capital said the funds are denominated in US dollars and pegged currencies and will target annual returns of 6 and 7%. The new funds will be co-managed by Abdul Kadir Hussain, head of fixed income asset management, and Zeina Rizk, director of fixed income asset management.

QIB named as safest Islamic bank in #Qatar

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has been recognised by Global Finance as the safest Islamic Bank in Qatar and one of the safest Banks in the Middle East. Also, QIB was recognised as the second safest Bank across the banking sector, and the third safest Islamic Bank in the Middle East. Global Finance evaluates the ratings and total assets size of the banks, which were selected through an evaluation of long-term foreign currency ratings from Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch. QIB's Group CEO Bassel Gamal said he was proud to be active contributor to Qatar's growing financial sector and to the country's National Vision 2030. Total assets of the Bank have increased by 9.2% compared to the first half of 2016, and now stand at QR147bn. Income for the first half of this year is QR3.14bn registering 18.4% compared to QR2.657bn for the first half of 2016.

London judge postpones decision on Dana Gas #sukuk hearing

A London High Court judge will decide on Friday whether to continue proceedings on the validity of $700 million sukuk issued by Dana Gas. United Arab Emirates producer Dana Gas started proceedings in June to have its sukuk declared invalid and unlawful because of changes in the interpretation of Islamic finance. A last-minute injunction obtained by some shareholders prevented Dana Gas from participating in the trial. High Court judge George Leggatt on Tuesday adjourned the trial and decided to reserve judgement until Friday. The outcome of the trial could have significant repercussions for sukuk issuers and investors worldwide, as it could set a precedent for other issuers. The case is being disputed in UK and UAE courts because while the purchase undertaking is regulated by English law, the mudarabah agreement underlying the sukuk structure is regulated by UAE law.

#Algeria plans first #sukuk issuance in 2018 -PM

Algeria plans to issue its first sukuk next year as it seeks new funding sources after a fall in energy earnings. Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said the government would introduce Islamic financial services at two state banks before the end of this year and four others in 2018. The North African country had rejected sharia-based financing options after a war with Islamist movements that killed about 200,00 people in the 1990s. But financial difficulties have prompted the government to speed up implementation of reforms. Algerian firms rely heavily on state spending, which in turn depends on the hydrocarbons sector. The government also aims to modernise the stock market, which is now smaller than those in neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia.

#Algeria: 6 government banks to offer Islamic banking by 2018

Algeria’s Prime Minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, announced that Islamic banking is to be approved in two public government banks before the end of this year and will be approved in four other banks in 2018. According to Ouyahia, this funding was inevitable because of the country's difficult economic and financial situation, and it will be limited in time because it will continue till no later than 2022. Algeria has about 29 banking institutions, seven of them are government-owned public banks, and more than 20 foreign banks from the Gulf countries, others are French and one is British. The Algerian government has applied Islamic banking in a limited way through the Zakat Fund of The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Wakfs, that was launched in 2003. The country has been facing an economic crisis for three years due to the fall in oil prices. Its foreign exchange earnings fell from 60 billion dollars in 2014 to 27.5 billion dollars at the end of last year.

Dana Gas and partners start arbitration case against MOL over #Kurdistan settlement

Dana Gas and its partner Crescent Petroleum have begun arbitration proceedings against Hungary's MOL Group over Dana's settlement agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The KRG agreed to pay $1 billion to the consortium and to reclassify some additional $1.24 billion from debt to outstanding costs. MOL is unsatisfied with the way Dana Gas, Crescent Petroleum and the Pearl consortium handled the settlement and would have pursued a final litigation and enforcement outcome against KRG instead. Dana and Crescent Petroleum own a combined 70% stake in the Pearl consortium, while Austria's OMV, Germany's RWE, and MOL each own 10%. The KRG settlement boosted Dana's cash balance and lifted the company's stock on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange by 14%. Last week Dana bondholders requested a $300 million cash paydown, but Dana refused the proposal and the case is now being disputed in a London High Court.

#Saudi Domestic #Sukuk: Indication of Financial Solidity

The Saudi Finance Ministry announced that the third domestic sukuk issuance reached 350% in a record rate, while the first issuance was at 297% and the second at 300%. These figures indicate the solidity of the Saudi financial and banking sectors. The government received more than 24 billion riyals (USD6.4 billion) in bids for its third riyal-denominated sukuk. The latest issuance was divided into three tranches as follows: 2.4 billion riyals (USD640 million) from a five-year tranche, 3.9 billion riyals (USD1.04 billion) from seven-year notes and 700 million riyals (USD186.6 million) through a 10-year tranche. Thirteen licensed commercial banks qualified for the domestic sukuk program. Once the program was established, financial institutions competed two months ago to submit investment applications in the first issued domestic sukuk in the local market.

EPF to boost #investments in shariah-compliant private equity funds

The #Malaysian Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is prepared to increase its investments in shariah-compliant private equity (PE) funds. Deputy CEO Datuk Mohamad Nasir Ab Latif said the pension fund has not met its full asset allocation target for its PE segment. He noted that the fund allocated 10% to infrastructure and real estate investment, while PE investment currently stood at 4%, adding that there was a shortage of shariah-compliant funds in the domestic and international markets. He said EPF would continue to invest in both shariah-compliant and conventional funds concurrently. For the second quarter ended June 30, 2017, EPF's shariah-compliant savings accounted for RM820.71 million out of RM11.51 billion of its total investment income, while RM10.69 billion was generated from its conventional savings.

#DIFC #Wealth and #Asset Management Report 2017

DIFC published a report about the Wealth and Asset Management industry.

From the abstract:

"Continued growth in Islamic asset management

Islamic asset management [IF: Islamic mutual fund business only] continues to grow, at a moderate CAGR of 2.44% since 2012 to reach US$58.89 billion in AuM by the end of 2016, despite the economic challenges in the GCC caused by falling oil prices. The industry is still highly concentrated in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, however.

Shariah-compliant investments have strong demographic demand but remain under-utilised. Targeting different
market sectors and regions has been largely ineffective, due mainly to poor marketing strategies. Inadequate government support and recent market conditions have also impaired market performance.

Despite developments in Islamic finance and growth in Islamic assets, Islamic wealth management remains a niche market, and with local services still largely underdeveloped, most Middle East investors continue to invest overseas. Islamic pension funds’ potential scarcely tapped Pension funds in particular present one way to add scale

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