Al Rayan Bank has introduced a new range of home purchase plans (HPPs) to facilitate the move of an existing home finance product to the Sharia-compliant provider. The lender will assist customers by waiving or contributing to the fees associated with refinancing home finance to another provider. Al Rayan will waive the £399 HPP administration fee and the valuation will be paid by the bank, up to a maximum of £600, while the first monthly payment will see Al Rayan pay a cashback of £300 to the customer. The news comes after Al Rayan posted a 228% surge in home finance completions in January as it reported demand for Islamic finance was at an all-time high.
A #Kenyan college yesterday signed a three-year memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Malaysian training university to develop curriculum on Islamic Finance. Coast International College (CIC) also signed a letter of collaboration with the Inceif, the global University for Islamic Finance owned by the Central Bank of Malaysia. The MoU was signed by college principal Loise Gichuki, Inceif president and chief executive Daud Vicary Abdullah. The programme will offer Diploma in Islamic finance. The Malaysia University will provide curriculum, course materials and lectures related to Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic Law of contract, financial accounting and fundamentals of Islamic Banking.
Saudi Aramco is paying a significant premium to the government and to its previous borrowing in its first sukuk sale. Aramco is offering 7-year, riyal-denominated sukuk at 25 basis points (bps) over the six-month Saudi Arabian Interbank Offered Rate (SAIBOR). The private placement, part of a 37.5 billion riyal ($10 billion) Islamic bond programme, could be as large as about 6 billion. It is expected to take place early next week. Riyadh is restructuring the company and its regulatory environment to make Aramco attractive as an investment. But major decisions on the company's structure and its post-IPO dividend policy have not been announced. Alinma Investment, HSBC Saudi Arabia, NCB Capital and Riyad Capital are the joint lead coordinators. They are joined by GIB Capital, Samba Capital and Saudi Fransi Capital in dealer roles.
A year ago, when Tatagroprombank launched The Partnership Banking Center, many analysts believed in its success. At the moment, Robert Musin, one of the main shareholders of Tatagroprombank is facing criminal charges for alleged large-scale fraud. In addition to that, on March 9 the Russian parliament decided to reject the bill that would let Islamic banking fully and legally operate in Russia. Since 1997, several Islamic "windows" were set up, but most eventually closed down. According to Nina Mamedova, head of the Iranian sector at the Russian Academy of Science, Russia doesn’t have a well-developed legal framework for Islamic banking. She added that inspite of that, due to the growth of the Muslim population in Russia, some forms of the Islamic banking system will continue to exist in Russia.
Saudi Arabia is considering whether to change the structure of its planned U.S. dollar sukuk issue, which would be the kingdom's first international sukuk issue. The structure would comprise a mudaraba agreement plus a murabaha facility. Potential changes to that structure are now under discussion to make the instrument more easily tradable and less complex to understand for international investors. So the structure may be changed to an ijara format, a lease-financing structure which is common among sovereign sukuk issuance around the world. The new issue would be Saudi Arabia's second international bond sale after a $17.5 billion debut conventional bond issue last October. Citi, HSBC and JP Morgan are global coordinators, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank are also involved with lead roles.
Dubai-based building company Drake & Scull said it breached financial covenants in relation to a sukuk syndicated facility and other bank facilities in 2016. The company incurred an annual loss 815.3 million dirhams ($222.01 million) last year as low oil prices and an economic slowdown hit the construction sector in the Gulf region. Drake & Scull was not able to comply with reporting requirements requested for a conditional waiver and therefore, breached financial covenants. These loans are now overdue on their principal and interest payments, and they are technically payable on demand.
Maybank Islamic is turning to its home markets for growth, in particularly Indonesia where it manages $2 billion worth of assets and is aiming to compete with domestic Islamic banks. According to CEO Mohamed Rafique Merican, the bank could grow beyond its core markets of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, but expansion in other markets would be opportunistic. Indonesia remains a key market for the bank, after Malaysia which accounts for 90% of the bank's business. As part of the ASEAN banking integration framework (ABIF), Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed in August to give their banks greater access to each other's markets. The move would give Malaysia's Islamic banks a potential lead to tap into the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, and one that continues to restrict to foreign lenders.
Faith-based advisors assist clients with financial planning, investment management, insurance, and other aspects of wealth management that their secular counterparts do. But according to Kingdom Advisors President Rob West, faith-based advisors generally help clients determine "what’s enough" for them to live on and use the rest to "serve others". One example is Ronald Blue & Co., a US$65-billion multi-branch advisory firm that incorporates religious values and laws into financial plans. While some faith-based advisory firms cater to lower-value investors, many serve relatively high-net-worth clients and charge higher than the standard 1% of assets per year. At Islam-oriented Azzad Asset Management, fees start at 1.75% to 2% of assets and decline with increasing asset values. The high fees are justified by labour-intensive services such as screening out certain stocks and calculating the zakat.
According to panellists speaking at the Finnovasia 2017 Conference, Shariah contracts' greater regulatory complexity can be eased by fintech solutions. Raja Teh Maimunah, CEO of Aminvestment Bank in Kuala Lumpur, stressed that the complex nature of Sharia instruments requires bankers take a different approach. Raja and her bank had wanted to digitise their banking transaction processes by introducing a new type of contract for current and savings accounts. It was eventually addressed with a fintech solution developed by one of her staff. Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, pointed out that the growth of Malaysia’s digital economy currently stands at 17.8% of the country’s total GDP of $296.3 billion, and is expected to meet or exceed the 18.2% target set by the government for 2020.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has announced an equity investment of $30 million via the consortium fund Network International to expand the payment infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa. Network International is jointly controlled by the Emirates NBD Bank and Warburg Pincus/General Atlantic consortium. The investment will help the company expand and modernise its banking client network in the Middle East and Africa. The investment is expected to allow MSMEs to access card-based payments and develop digital data records, to help them grow their customer base. Bassel Hamwi, Head of the IFC Middle East and North Africa Fund, said the shared infrastructure brings down costs and boosts financial inclusion, while reducing the risk of fraud.
Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Aramco) set final pricing for its debut Islamic bond as the company presses ahead with plans to raise $10 billion in debt. Aramco is selling debt with a seven year tenure in a private placement at 25 basis points over the country’s interbank offered rate. The oil giant is selling debt ahead of an initial public offering in 2018 as the country’s finance ministry plans to cut taxation on the company. The cut will boost Aramco’s net income by 300%, putting per-barrel income in a range similar to that of international oil companies. Aramco’s sukuk follows Saudi Arabia’s $17.5 billion bond issue in October, which was the state’s debut international debt sale. Saudi Arabia is also said to be planning a sale of riyal-denominated Islamic bonds to local institutions to help boost the country’s Islamic bond market.
The Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has published the exposure draft of the accounting standard on Sukuk and invites feedback from the Islamic finance industry. The objective of the standard is to prescribe the accounting and financial reporting guidance for the accounting treatment and classification with regard to the Sukuk issuance. It also covers the presentation and disclosure of Sukuk issuance. It provides principle-based accounting treatments for broadly two types of Sukuk issuance, off balance sheet and on balancesheet as well as respective subcategories. Comments on the exposure draft are welcome and should be directed no later than 31 March 2017 to email@example.com. Comments and suggestions will be presented in an upcoming meeting to discuss and make necessary changes to the standard.
#Kenyan financial regulators expect new guidelines in 2017 for the supervision of the entire sector. Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) supervisor Mary Nkiomu said the Islamic Finance Project Management Office established in December 2015 has submitted policy proposals to the National Treasury. The guidelines will enable the financial sector regulators to incorporate Islamic finance regulatory frameworks. Islamic finance institutions are largely operating in a self-regulatory environment governed by religious principles, backed with regulations for conventional operations. The guidelines, drafted in 2015, are set be rolled out to the public for consultations this year. The delay in the roll out has been attributed to terrorist attacks over the years.
Pakistan's central bank has updated guidance on sharia governance for Islamic finance institutions. The goal is to expand the scope of external audits to help mitigate conflicts of interest and increase transparency. Those religious scholars who are members of an Islamic bank's sharia board are now barred from serving in any external audit firm. From now on, external sharia audits will have to cover pool-management practices and technology systems. This includes the way Islamic banks calculate distribution of profit and loss to depositors, the tracking of assets, and the allocation of income and expenses. The move is designed to separate the verification of profit and loss distribution between the banks and the external auditors, in contrast to the joint verification that was allowed under earlier guidance.
Maybank Islamic hopes to attract RM2 billion (USD453 million) in deposits – within a year – by launching two new financial products. The products are Foreign Currency Mudharabah-i (FCM-i) and the Profit Now Account-i (PNA-i). FCM-i is a short-term Islamic foreign currency term deposit account based on the principle of Mudharabah. Dividends on FCM-i are based on an agreed profit-sharing ratio which is agreed up-front. The actual dividend will then be calculated on this ratio and the amount payable will be known upon maturity of the investment. The minimum deposit for individual customer is equivalent to USD5,000; tenures range from one to 12 months.
The principal reasons are the small size of Islamic banks, and the additional legal transactions involved with Islamic mortgages. In the UK, Muslims are often surprised to find that Shariah compliant Islamic mortgages are noticeably more expensive than conventional ones. A conventional mortgage is a reasonably simple transaction to document legally. Conversely, a residential Islamic mortgage involves both the bank and the new owner occupier purchasing the property jointly. The contracts used are less standardised and there are simply more pieces of legal paperwork involved in an Islamic mortgage. Furthermore, the stand-alone Islamic banks in the UK are very small compared with the very large conventional banks. All these costs must ultimately be borne by the customers and are reflected in the higher prices Islamic banks charge for Islamic mortgages.
Turkey's state grain board TMO and construction firm Gap Insaat have received regulatory approval for debut sukuk sales. Turkey has seen steady issuance of sukuk from the government and the country's Islamic banks, but an increase in corporate issuance could help tap into a much wider stable of issuers. According to the country's Capital Markets Board, the TMO will raise 150 million lira ($41.6 million) via a sukuk that will be arranged by Islamic lender Kuveyt Turk. Turkey is seeking to build a bigger role in the industry and forge closer ties with fast-growing economies in the Gulf and southeast Asia. The Turkish Treasury hired banks to arrange a sale of sukuk in the international markets, with meetings set to begin this week in the United Arab Emirates.
Takaful Ikhlas aims to introduce its online platform for basic term life insurance to encourage youths to obtain insurance coverage. Senior Vice-President, Wan Rosli Shaharuddin Wan Yaacob is optimistic the online platform will attract youths as they will be able to compare the products' features, policies, as well as pricing via the platform. He said Malaysians below 35 years old currently constituted the largest group in the country who have yet to be covered by any insurance company. According to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Financial Stability and Payments Report 2016, Malaysia's overall insurance penetration remained flat, within the range of 54% to 56% over the last five years. The central bank had earlier set the penetration rate target at 75% by 2020. It specifies that standalone protection products must be available through direct channels from Jan 1, 2017, followed by critical illness and medical and health insurance/takaful products by Jan 1, 2018.
Maybank Islamic launched a new account for its Islamic private wealth clientele. The new feature will provide high net worth (HNW) clients with comprehensive private banking services. The bank explained that the enhanced platform will allow HNW clients to view and monitor their various Islamic investment portfolios holistically, in one single statement. The recent Asia Pacific Wealth Report by Capgemini indicates that the greatest enthusiasm for putting portfolios to work for social gain comes from high net worth individuals in the emerging markets of Indonesia, followed closely by Malaysia. Maybank's Group Head of Community Financial Services, Datuk Lim Hong Tat, said that Maybank Islamic provides an avenue for HNW individuals to earn returns in a more socially-responsible manner.
Turkish treasury mandated the Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered to explore opportunities for a possible sukuk issue. A series of investor meetings will be organised in the UAE on March 28, 2017. Meanwhile, the country’s monetary authority raised its highest interest rate while leaving all of the other rates unchanged. The lira rallied as the move was seen paving for they way for tighter policy and serving as insurance against bouts of currency weakness.