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Islamic Development Bank to help #Pakistan fight coronavirus

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Thursday offered financial support to Pakistan amid the lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic. In a video call, IsDB President Dr Bandar MH Hajjar assured Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar of the bank’s support for Pakistan. Hajjar informed that the IsDB Group has approved the $2.3 billion package for the IsDB member countries to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar appreciated the special priority given to Pakistan. The minister also underlined the needs of the member countries and applauded Bank’s response.

Norton Rose Fulbright acts for HSBC on unique USD 1 billion Islamic financing

International law firm Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) has been called on to advise HSBC and Tokyo-headquartered Mizuho Bank, on an Islamic financing facility worth USD 1 billion. The cross-border financing, which had to be compliant with Shariah law, is the first of its kind to align to the new requirements set by the United Arab Emirates Central Bank. The finance facility’s creation necessitated a deep understanding of the new rules surrounding commodity murabaha financing structures, which called on NRF’s Dubai-based banking team, representing the initial arrangers, book-runners and coordinators.

Islamic Development Bank prepares $2.3b package for member countries

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group has approved a $2.3 billion package for its member countries to mitigate and recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. IsDB President Dr Bandar M H Hajjar said that this will be achieved through a holistic approach aimed to accommodate priorities beyond the immediate and emergency response. Dr Hajjar assured the bank’s full support for the people and the government of Pakistan to mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19. Pakistan's Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar informed that International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has been directed to immediately finalise $500 million for import of oil and an amount of $150 million has been allocated to alleviate the pandemic impact.

Middle East investors target $5.3bn London commercial property spend in 2020

According to Knight Frank, Middle East investors are set to increase commercial real estate investment in London this year. Investors from the region are forecast to spend £4.1 billion ($5.3 billion) in the UK capital this year, up by £100 million compared to 2019. China remains by far the biggest potential investor in London, with £12.7 billion of capital ready to buy assets in 2020, followed by Singapore. Knight Frank’s annual London Report reveals that in 2019 London investment activity fell 15% to £13.9 billion, down from £16.8 billion in 2018, as Brexit uncertainty and a shortage of available assets constrained the number of deals.

RAM Ratings: #Takaful industry’s strong capitalisation sufficient to withstand headwinds

RAM Ratings Services has maintained its "stable" outlook on the Malaysian takaful industry for 2020 despite the economic slowdown. Its Financial Institution Ratings co-head Sophia Lee said the industry’s strong capitalisation is sufficient to withstand headwinds. In 2019, the family takaful’s new business contributions grew 25% to RM6.2 billion, an additional 13% from 2018, mainly driven by the MySalam initiative, the national health protection scheme. Excluding MySalam, growth was still commendable at an estimated 16%, anchored by credit-related takaful products and the employee benefits. Similarly, the general takaful industry expanded by a strong 20% in 2019, led primarily by the motor business.

#Indonesia’s national Islamic economy committee budget slashed, plans suspended as gov't focuses on COVID-19

Indonesia’s National Sharia Economy and Finance Committee (KNEKS) will suspend non-urgent programs this year after its budget was slashed by a third as the government allocates resources to fight COVID-19. The committee will conduct a series of webinars focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the Islamic economy. KNEKS will also engage Indonesians to participate more in Islamic social finance by promoting Shariah-compliant fintechs such as LinkAja Syariah. Indonesia’s government has set aside 405.1 trillion rupiah ($24.65 billion) out of the state budget as a support and stimulus package to help the economy. It has re-allocated and re-focused 95.5 trillion rupiah from ministries and other government institutions as part of efforts to fund the package.

Covid-19: World faces 'biblical' famines from pandemic, warns UN food agency chief

The head of the UN food agency warned that besides the coronavirus pandemic the world is on the brink of a hunger pandemic that could lead to multiple famines of biblical proportions within a few months if immediate action isn't taken. World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said that WFP is providing food to nearly 100 million people on any given day. According to WFP, the 10 countries with the worst food crises in 2019 were Yemen, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti. Beasley raised the prospect of a hunger pandemic because there is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of Covid-19 than from the virus itself. Lockdowns and economic recession are expected to lead to major income losses for the working poor.

EXCLUSIVE: Gulf Family Offices And European Distressed Assets - An Analysis

The Financial Times published an article about Gulf sovereign wealth funds which are mobilising to buy assets whose valuations have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, distressed assets will no doubt soon be flooding the market looking for rescue investors. Yet there may be problems for bankers and asset managers taking potential deals to the sovereign wealth funds. The oil price is at a 20-year low as coronavirus depresses demand, and Gulf countries may need to support their domestic economies. Secondly, sovereign wealth funds have high visibility and there is strong competition for their attention. Much less is known about family offices. The Single Family Offices Database from Highworth is an online resource which provides detailed profiles of over 900 single family offices globally, including a number of sovereign family offices in Gulf countries.

Arabic Collections Online

Arabic Collections Online (ACO) is a publicly available digital library of public domain Arabic language content. ACO currently provides digital access to 13,224 volumes across 7,842 subjects drawn from rich Arabic collections of distinguished research libraries. As reported recently, Arabic Collections Online usage jumped 700% in March due to closures of libraries around the world.

Temenos helps Yemeni bank to digitalise operations

Yemen’s Al Kuraimi Islamic Bank (KIB) is replacing its legacy IT systems with a single cloud-native, cloud-agnostic digital banking platform from Temenos. Temenos Infinity will support the delivery of hyper-personalised, omnichannel customer experiences and allow KIB to provide faster, seamless customer service. Temenos Transact will optimise KIB’s operations and enable the delivery of enhanced digital products with shorter timescales for delivery. Established in 2010, KIB has 1.2 million customers and is aiming to reach 5 million by 2023. Its goals include making financial services easily accessible across Yemen, supporting socioeconomic development, and raising the national standard of living.

NMC board, management should be held accountable: Al Ghurair

According to Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the UAE Banks Federation, the board and management of NMC Healthcare should be held accountable for the financial irregularities. It is estimated that more than 80 local, regional and international banks have exposure to healthcare firm. The UAE banks last week announced nearly Dh10 billion exposure to NMC Healthcare. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank has the highest exposure to NMC at Dh3 billion. Dubai Islamic Bank and its subsidiary Noor Bank announced Dh2 billion exposure while Emirates NBD and Emirates Islamic Bank disclosed Dh747.34 million exposure. NMC recently revised its debt position to $6.6 billion, well above earlier estimates. London's High Court last week placed hospital operator NMC Health into administration, on the application of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

A new normal will require Islamic fintech to address financial inclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unexpected catalyst for digitalisation and this global crisis now may well be a boon to businesses promoting digital financial inclusivity. Approximately 40% of startups will not survive if the COVID-19 crisis continues after May 2020, according to a recent news report. Malaysia is now a nucleus for Islamic digital economic activity comprising of digital products and services catering to the Islamic crowd. The country has developed world-class regulation, driving new initiatives to accredit halal certifiers worldwide, granting the first Islamic fintech crowdfunding license and launching a new certification scheme for Muslim friendly hospitality. Islamic Fintech and Islamic Digital Economy encourage financial inclusivity by increasing awareness and providing access to SMEs through digital financial instruments.

World Health Organization thanks Saudi Arabia for contributing $500 million to combat Coronavirus

The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom thanked Saudi Arabia for donating 500 million dollars to support the international efforts in combating and preventing the spread of novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Saudi Arabia will allocate 150 million dollars to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, 150 million dollars to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and 200 million dollars to the other international and regional health organizations and programs. The novel Coronavirus has killed more than 150,000 people worldwide and infected over 2.2 million people in 193 countries and territories.

Qatari humanitarian organisation pledges $43mn to UNHCR Refugee Zakat Fund

Qatar based Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al-Thani Humanitarian Fund will contribute $43mn to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Refugee Zakat Fund. UNHCR also launched the findings of its 2020 Islamic Philanthropy Report. According to the report, in 2019 the Refugee Zakat Fund received $43mn, including the largest ever single contribution made by Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al-Thani Humanitarian Fund of over $35mn. The Fund’s Zakat contribution has helped support 164,696 vulnerable families. The donation has provided much-needed cash assistance to fulfill immediate needs, as well as, the provision of food.

Refugee Zakat Fund received over $43 million last year

The Refugee Zakat Fund had received a total of more than $ 43 million in contributions during the past year, including an individual contribution that is the largest ever made. It was made by the Qatari Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al Thani Humanitarian Fund with a value of more than $ 35 million. On March 25, the UNHCR launched an urgent appeal for $255 million to reduce risks and minimize the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in vulnerable communities. UNHCR launched the Refugee Zakat Fund in 2019 as a trustworthy platform for distributing Zakat funds to help refugees and internally displaced persons from the most vulnerable groups.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Completes Trade Finance Distribution Transaction Using Blockchain

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has successfully completed a secondary market transaction using TradeAssets, a blockchain-powered trade finance e-marketplace. TradeAssets developed its blockchain-powered trade finance platform with an initial focus on secondary market transactions. In 2019, the company launched the platform with 25 banks, most of them in emerging markets such as Bangladesh. Currently, the platform has over 150 members with many of them being from the Middle East.

First Rs200bn #sukuk issue launched via stock market

Pakistan's state-owned Power Holding announced the 10-year Sharia-compliant sukuk up to Rs200 billion through the Pakistan Stock Exchange. The amount generated from the Pakistan Energy Sukuk-II will also be used for the settlement of partial circular debt related to the power sector. For the first time, ordinary investors have been allowed to participate in buying a government security. The value of each sukuk unit is placed at Rs5,000. The minimum bid size would be 20 units or Rs100,000. In another development, the SECP has relaxed the time for maturity requirement of government Ijara Sukuk for Sharia-complaint money market sub funds of Pension Fund. The SECP has allowed the Sharia-compliant pension funds to invest in government sukuk from three to five years.

Alvarez & Marsal administrators to ailing NMC healthcare group

Richard Fleming, Mark Firmin and Ben Cairns of Alvarez & Marsal Europe have been appointed joint administrators of Abu Dhabi-based NMC Health. In February the company uncovered $335m (£258m) in previously undisclosed loans to related parties, and a further investigation by PwC unearthed over $2.7bn (£2bn) in undisclosed debt. The administrators have replaced the NMC board, stating that an immediate priority is to implement corporate governance changes in the group. In February, the Financial Conduct Authority launched an investigation into NMC's activities after the company's shares were suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation holds virtual symposium on COVID-19

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held a videoconference on the COVID-19 outbreak. The symposium reviewed Sharia provisions on isolating confirmed and suspected patients; social distancing; acts of worship, including congregational prayer, Friday prayer and Ramadan fasting during the lockdown; personal hygiene; and adherence to health directives issued by authorities. The symposium followed an extraordinary meeting of the OIC Steering Committee on Health on COVID-19 held a few days ago, which called on jurists and preachers to urge Muslims to follow the true teachings of Islam in terms of hygiene and adhering to the required preventive measures.

Ayman Amin Sejiny, CEO at Islamic Development Bank Group

Ayman Amin Sejiny has been the chief executive officer of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) since October 2018. The ICD is the private sector arm of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank Group. Recently, ICD announced a rapid response initiative to combat the repercussions of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by allocating $250 million in emergency funding. ICD will aid the private health care industries of affected member countries. ICD will also work closely with more than 100 local and regional financial institutions so that they can continue to finance small- and medium-sized enterprises.

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