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#Saudi Electricity in talks with banks for dollar #sukuk issue - sources

State-controlled utility Saudi Electricity is in talks with regional and international banks about issuing a US dollar-denominated sukuk. A number of companies in the kingdom are considering sukuk issuance to offset a decline in revenues due to lower oil prices. Oil giant Saudi Aramco issued a debut $3 billion-equivalent sukuk in the Saudi local market in April, while ACWA Power is expected to issue an international bond of at least $600 million this week. Saudi Electricity issued $2.5 billion in sukuk in 2014, split between a $1.5 billion sukuk maturing in 2024 and $1 billion due in 2044. The company recently repaid a $500 million five-year sukuk it issued in 2012.

Leading #Scottish Islamic finance expert to speak at Responsible Finance & Investment #Summit

Graham Burnside, a consultant at Shepherd and Wedderburn, is to speak at the RFI conference in Zurich. The Responsible Finance & Investment Summit (RFI Summit) is a two-day event hosted by the RFI Foundation and the Swiss Arab Network. The event is aimed at building awareness of how the social and environmentally responsible investment and Islamic finance can create a positive impact. Mr Burnside is a founding member of the Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC), a Scottish-based not-for-profit specialist advisory established to promote ethical finance. In 2015, the UKIFC was recognised by Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge Awards (EFICA), winning the $100,000 Islamic Finance Industry Development Award. Mr Burnside has been invited to take part in the RFI Summit panel looking at financial inclusion and responsible finance.

ICD, Tamkeen & Ibdar launch $100million #Bahrain #SME #fund

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in partnership with Ibdar Bank and Labour Fund Tamkeen has announced the launch of the Bahrain SME fund. The Bahrain SME Fund is a Shariah compliant mezzanine private equity Fund which will invest in Bahrain’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). The Fund will target SME’s with high growth potential in consumer, industrial, ICT, education and healthcare sectors, as well as sectors experiencing dynamic change. The Fund will add immense value to Bahrain as a tool for SME growth and development where 90% of Bahrain enterprises are SMEs and their contribution accounts for about 30% of the Kingdom’s GDP.

Shake-up on the way with DIB entry into market

Dubai Islamic Bank’s (DIB) formal entry into the Kenyan market is expected to shake up locally-owned Islamic lenders that have faced little competition for a decade. The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has now opened the door for the bank after more than a year of waiting. Kenya has until now had only two fully-fledged Islamic banks, while five other conventional lenders have been offering Shariah-compliant services and products through "Islamic Windows". DIB makes its foray into Kenya at a time when authorities are keen to make Kenya a hub for Islamic finance in Africa with ongoing reforms expected to drive the growth of Islamic-finance operations. The Kenyan government has recently unveiled a package of initiatives to develop a policy framework for Islamic finance in the country.

Wahid urges more listings of Islamic financial institutions on Bursa #Malaysia

The listing of more Islamic financial institutions on Bursa Malaysia is needed to boost the Islamic fund and wealth management industry going forward. The Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) group chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar said this would also strengthen Malaysia's position as a global financial hub. He said that of the 672 syariah-compliant securities listed only two were from the finance sector, namely, BIMB Hodings and Syarikat Takaful Malaysia. Wahid said the shortage of listed Islamic finance institutions could pose big challenges to the industry, especially for the government-linked investment companies. He also suggested three possible ways to further grow the industry. The first is the formation of a second listed Islamic universal banking group, apart from BIMB Holdings. The listing of some of Islamic Development Finance Institutions such as Bank Simpanan Nasional and Bank Rakyat is a second option. The third approach is the creation of a separate listing among banking groups that have sizeable Islamic finance activities embedded within them, such as Maybank, CIMB and RHB.

Boeing Looks to Islamic Finance and #Sukuk for Funding

Boeing Capital is exploring opportunities for Islamic finance in the aviation sector and the possibility of including aircraft finance in the Islamic sukuk market. This way, an aircraft finance portfolio would be secured by an instrument known as the Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificate. Since 2006, Boeing Capital has hosted annual airline planning seminars for financiers in the Middle East. Emirates Airlines has issued sukuk most recently in 2015 compromising of a 10 year sukuk for the value of $913 million. Guaranteed by the UK Government, the sukuk was priced on 25 March at 2.471%. Emirates also issued in 2013 a $1 billion sukuk 10 year sukuk which was priced at 3.875%. Ethihad Airlines issued a sukuk in November 2016 for $1.5 billion which was priced at 3.86%.

Introducing #sukuk bonds in #Malta

Discussion about sukuk bonds is on the increase. The government of Malta has also considered issuing this type of security. Meanwhile, many established players on the international capital markets are issuing sukuks. A sukuk has a secondary market in the same way as a typical bond has and investors may buy, hold or sell the sukuk after this has been issued in the primary market. Hence, liquidity considerations are also relevant for sukuk bonds. The buyer of a sukuk bond is indirectly buying an asset that has value rather than entering into a loan obligation with the issuer of a typical debt instrument. Importantly, the number of investors in the Islamic world cannot be ignored and therefore Sharia compliant vehicles capable of attracting their wealth are increasingly relevant. The sukuk is a good starting point for issuers to tap into this reality.

Workshop on #Sukuk Model Law project held

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) organized a regional consultation workshop on Sukuk Model Law project. The workshop was organized in partnership with the Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam and was held in Brunei capital. Participants included senior officials of financial authorities from the IDB member countries in the ASEAN region, namely Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Maldives, as well as from Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. The project aims to create a model Sukuk law and guidelines that allow IDB member countries and other jurisdictions a basis for a legal framework for Sukuk issuance and regulation. This was the second of four regional consultations on the Sukuk law. The first consultation was held in Senegal, Africa, and other two are planned for Europe/Central Asia and the MENA regions.

Burj Bank cement strong reputation

With a strong background in Middle Eastern banking, Burj Bank has been building a solid reputation based on integrity. Burj Bank was founded in 2007 under the name of Dawood Islamic Bank as a central pillar of Pakistan’s Islamic Banking landscape. In 2011 the bank was renamed and launched as 'Burj Bank Limited', following a massive capital injection by some Middle Eastern investors of the bank. At present, almost 85% of Burj Bank’s shareholding stems from the Middle East, with majority ownership belonging to the Islamic Corporation for Development of the Private Sector (ICD). In 2012 Burj Bank grew its deposit base by 77% and the financing portfolio also reflected a growth of 67%. The branches grew from 50 to 75, reflecting a percentage distribution network growth of 50%. The bank has entered into diverse new lines of business including SME (small- and medium-sized enterprise) banking, investment banking, agricultural financing, cash management and home Musharaka.

#Kenya: CBK Licences Dubai Islamic Bank

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has licensed Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) after the bank fulfilled its stipulated requirements. Dubai Islamic Bank Kenya intends to exclusively offer Shariah compliant banking services becoming the third fully Shariah compliant bank in Kenya. The decision is seen to highlight the CBK's confidence in the stability of the banking sector, which has been experiencing turbulence in the past couple of years. DIB is a fully owned subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank of the United Arab Emirates, which has an asset base of Sh4.8 trillion and capital of Sh754.8 billion. The Central Bank of Kenya welcomes the entry of international brands and believes that DIB's entry will expand the offerings in the market.

Islamic Development Bank promotes #waqf for development's sake

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) dedicates special concern for promoting waqf in line with its objective of boosting social and economic development of Islamic nations. The eighth forum on fiqh issues was held in Great Britain, at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies. Dr. Abdullah Mohammad, IDB's representative of the Islamic Institute for Research and Training stated that IDB has always sought to innovate mechanisms to benefit from the waqf institutions. Dr. Farhan Nethami, the center chair, lauded the Kuwaiti General Secretariat for Aqwaf for promoting waqf in all parts of the world, through funding philanthropic projects. He called for following the example of Kuwait and establishing coordination with non-Muslim communities in the social and economic domains, noting such an approach boosts understanding and mutual respect.

Solid growth in Islamic IAs expected to normalise

In #Malaysia Islamic investment accounts (IA) have grown at a strong pace since they were introduced in 2015. Bank Negara’s latest monthly banking statistics show that IAs have since grown to RM74.2 billion as at February this year, accounting for 13% of total liabilities within the Islamic banking system. According to Simon Chen, senior analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, by 2020 IAs will probably account for some 16% of the Islamic banking system’s total liabilities. An important feature of IAs is the sharing of risk between the bank and the account holder. For an investor, IAs are attractive because they offer much higher returns than a deposit account. But, unlike a deposit account, the principal amount in an IA is not guaranteed by Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia. According to Chen, a key issue that remains is whether the loss-sharing mechanism in IAs will be honoured by banks in case of actual losses. A significant loss to test the resilience of this regime has yet to occur.

RHB Islamic Bank issues RM250mil #sukuk

#Malaysian RHB Islamic Bank has issued RM250mil subordinated sukuk murabahah, the bank's first bond issuance in about three years. Parent company RHB Bank said the sukuk would mature in 10 years and could only be redeemed from the sixth year onwards. It has a fixed profit rate of 4.88% per annum, payable semi-annually in arrears throughout the entire tenure. RHB said proceeds raised from the sukuk issuance would be used for RHB Islamic’s syariah compliant working capital. In 2016, RHB Islamic turned in a profit after tax of RM324.8mil, a 27.4% increase against RM254.8mil in the preceding year.

Allianz ends HSBC Amanah takeover talks

Allianz Malaysia, a subsidiary of the German Allianz SE, has ended discussions to acquire HSBC Amanah Takaful. The company announced it has discontinued its negotiations with the shareholders of HSBC Amanah, namely HSBC Insurance (Asia-Pacific), JAB Capital and Employees Provident Fund (EPF). The life and general insurer did not give a reason why the talks failed. Allianz Malaysia CEO, Zakri Mohd Khir, previously said that he had been approached by takaful operators in the past, but the asking price was too high. Allianz Malaysia had been pursuing a bid for HSBC Amanah since October last year. Allianz Malaysia saw its net profit rise by a marginal 1.1% to RM312.13 million in the financial year 2016 (FY16) from RM308.87 million in FY15 due to higher gross earned premiums and investment income. Revenue also grew by 3.5% to RM4.68 billion from RM4.52 billion.

#Algeria edges towards Islamic finance as energy income dives

Algeria is edging slowly towards offering banking services to suit more religiously conservative investors. The country is now looking for more ways to offset the sharp fall in oil prices and its energy revenues. Six state-run banks plan to start Islamic financial services by the end of the year or in early 2018, and a national Shariah board that would oversee Islamic banking is also planned by the end of 2017. However, Algeria’s Islamic finance plan still faces huge barriers. It lacks a legal framework and technical expertise. Algeria is far behind North African neighbours Morocco and Tunisia, which have started to develop legislation for Islamic finance and sukuk bonds, overseen by a central religious board. Algeria is targeting domestic savers rather than foreign investors. Many local people distrust the state-owned banks and keep large sums at home, untaxed, in Algerian and foreign currency.

#Japan keeps making inroads into global Islamic finance

Japan continues foraying into the global Islamic finance sector in order to benefit from previously untapped opportunities. The Japanese Mizuho Bank through its Malaysian subsidiary became the next bank to enter an Islamic finance deal by signing a murabaha credit facility agreement. The deal is valued at $300mn and was signed by Mizuho Bank and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The two-year financing term will be used to fund projects undertaken by ICD in its member countries and is the first cross-border bilateral Islamic facility for Mizuho Bank. The agreement follows a similar deal between the ICD and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ on a $100mn murabaha facility back in 2014. Japan’s capital market regulator Financial Services Agency supports Japanese banks to conduct Islamic finance business by allowing their foreign subsidiaries to take Islamic deposits. Currently, the sector is waiting for amended banking regulations to enable banks to provide Islamic banking products on the domestic market for the first time.

QIB-#UK finances Buy-to-Live properties in London

QIB-UK has received official licensing to provide Sharia-compliant Murabaha Facilities for London properties. The new product enables QIB-UK to finance a buy-to-live property as well as refinance customers’ existing properties in London. QIB-UK has undergone a restructuring process to focus on serving the bank’s high-net-worth clients by addressing their specific financial needs in the UK. The bank offers its customers a range of Sharia-compliant banking services including Current Accounts in GBP, inward and outward transfers, direct debits, standing orders and more. QIB-UK also provides Debit Cards which are linked to a client’s current account with a high daily allowance of £15,000. Additionally, the Bank offers Wakala Deposits, Instant Access Savings Account, Notice Accounts and other premium products and services. QIB-UK was fully authorised as an Islamic Bank by the UK Financial Services Authority in 2008 and is fully owned by Qatar Islamic Bank.

Islamic Development Bank plans to buy stake in Borsa Istanbul

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) plans to take at least a 10% stake in Turkey's state-run stock exchange, Borsa Instanbul. Abdulhakim Elwaer, IDB's director of cooperation, said negotiations are expected to finalize in two to three months as part of wider efforts to develop Islamic finance in Turkey. Elwaer emphasized the bank's wish to help develop Turkey as a global Islamic financial center. IDB and Borsa Istanbul signed a cooperation agreement in November, with discussions currently ongoing to decide on a specific size and time frame. The bourse has a share capital of 423 million lira ($115.6 million), implying a value of 42.3 million lira for a 10% stake. Elwaer added that a gold trading platform is also in discussion, although the equity stake remains the bank's biggest priority.

Jadwa Investment launches Jadwa #REIT Al-Haramain Fund

#Saudi Jadwa Investment announced the conclusion of the public offering of its first Shariah-compliant Real Estate Investment Traded Fund, Jadwa REIT Al-Haramain Fund. The new fund will invest in real estate properties in Makkah and Madinah. The REIT, which has an initial size of SR660 million ($176 million), offered SR360 million worth of units to the general public. Over 5,800 individual and intuitional investors subscribed for SR4.53 billion during the offer period, resulting in a 1.257% coverage of the offered units. Haitham Al-Ghannam, head of alternative investments at Jadwa, said the initial portfolio of the REIT would comprise of two hospitality assets, a four-star hotel and a pilgrim accommodation. Both properties are located in Makkah with a combined capacity of 984 hotel rooms. At its initial offer price of SR10 per unit, the REIT offers net initial yield of 5.2%.

Industry body #AAOIFI plans #standards for Islamic endowments

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) will develop a package of standards covering Islamic endowments or awqaf. AAOIFI did not give a time frame for the completion of its awqaf standards, but said its board had discussed and approved specifications regarding the accounting standards. The plans are part of wider industry efforts to modernise awqaf, which receive donations to operate specific social projects, such as mosques, schools and welfare schemes. Most awqaf do not disclose full financial figures, although their underperformance is believed to be considerable. In India, awqaf are estimated to own 490,000 properties but their estimated annual income is just 1.63 billion rupees ($25.22 million.)

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