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Islamic finance calls for more talents

Over the last few years, Islamic finance has witnessed a remarkable growth at 15 to 20% Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). The industry's rapid growth undoubtedly creates a huge demand for new expertise. Like other countries, Malaysia also needs a significant boost of Islamic finance talents. Based on Bank Negara Malaysia’s Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020, the financial sector would require an additional 56,000 employees of whom 22,400 are specifically needed to support the Islamic sector by 2020. According to a survey by the Finance Accreditation Agency (FAA), 80% of the respondent countries believed that the available Islamic finance talents do not satisfy industry needs. Malaysia has taken the lead and established three training institutions. They are the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM), the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) and the International Syariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA).

Maybank Islamic launches rent-to-own #housing #scheme

Maybank Islamic has launched a rent-to-own (RTO) housing scheme. Named HouzKEY, the product is targeted at first-time house buyers and those who want to upgrade their homes. According to Maybank Islamic's CEO, Datuk Mohamed Rafique Merican, HouzKEY addresses the growing issue of concern for affordable home ownership. The new product will initially be made available to Maybank employees and is slated to be rolled out to the general public in early 2018. HouzKEY is the first such RTO product in the country fully enabled on a digital platform, with the application and submission of supporting documents being required to be made online. To be eligible, applicants should have a household income of at least RM5,000 and commit to a minimum rental tenure of five years. They will have the option to purchase the property after one year at a pre-agreed price.

SECP okays Shariah-compliant trading counter at PSX

The Shariah Advisory Board (SAB) of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has reviewed the proposal of Shariah-compliant trading counter. The main feature of the proposal is to convert the T+2 settlement into T+0 settlement mechanism in the Shariah-compliant securities listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). The Shariah Advisory Board has granted approval of the proposed trading counter. The board also reviewed and granted approval of three AAOIFI standards: Shariah Standard No 17 - Investment Sukuk, Shariah Standard No 18- Possession and Shariah Standard No 23 - Agency and the Act of an un-commissioned agent.

#Saudi #fund ‘to take over Riyadh financial district’

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has finalized a deal to take over the management of the King Abdullah Financial District from the Public Pension Agency. As outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030 economic reform plan, the financial district is to be an economic free zone with visa exemptions and a direct connection to the airport. The first phase of the project is due to launch next year with plans to host the G-20 meeting there in 2020. The government is now exploring new options to attract financial institutions to occupy space in the district. The 73-building site has been restructured to reduce office space and increase the number of residential units. PwC and local regulator Capital Market Authority are among the companies due to take space in the area.

S&P assigns ‘B’ long-term rating to proposed #sukuk, unsecured notes

Standard and Poor’s (S&P) assigned a preliminary ‘B’ long-term rating to the proposed dollar-denominated sukuk issuance by Pakistan. A similar rating was assigned to the proposed benchmark sized US dollar-denominated senior unsecured sukuk, which will be issued by The Third Pakistan International Sukuk Company. The government may raise the amount with pricing in the range of 5.5 to 7% for 5 to 10 years. This is expected to provide the much needed support to Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves. In October last year, Pakistan raised one billion dollars through issuance of 5-year sukuk at a historic low rate of 5.5%. The country floated a 10-year Eurobond of $500 million at 8.25% in 2015. These bonds had S&P rating of B-.

#Pakistan all set to generate $3b through euro, #sukuk bonds

Pakistan is all set to generate up to $3 billion by issuing euro and sukuk bonds in the international debt market. Road shows for introducing bonds will soon start in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Europe and United States. The government’s plans to raise loans from the international market by issuing bonds would support the foreign exchange reserves, which are under pressure due to widening trade deficit. The deficit surged by 100% to $5.013 billion in the first four months of the current fiscal year as compared to $2.259 billion of a year ago. Both Sukuk and Eurobond are expected to be offered with tenures ranging from 5 to 30 years. The S&P earlier has assigned preliminary B rating to Pakistan’s proposed dollar bond issue.

Fidor Expands Middle East Africa Regional Hub in Dubai Silicon Oasis

Fidor Solutions has opened its newest office in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSOA), the integrated free zone technology park. DSOA's Deputy CEO, Juma Al Matrooshi and Fidor's Founder Matthias Kröner led the inauguration of Fidor’s regional headquarters in the presence of senior officials. Fidor is committed to contributing to the region’s growth by helping strengthen the fintech community and support the region’s economy through local employment and new talent searches. Commenting on the expansion, Matthias Kröner said Dubai was the natural next step for Fidor, especially because of the region’s growth within ecommerce, payments and its overall digitisation. Juma Al Matrooshi congratulated Fidor on expanding its regional presence in the Middle East and assured that the digital banking provider will significantly benefit from this location.

CMA approves Golden Group's RO200mn #sukuk issuance

Oman's Capital Market Authority (CMA) has recently approved a plan by Golden Group to issue sukuk worth OMR200 million. The sukuk will be issued in different tranches and the first issuance will be for OMR50 million by way of a private placement. The first issuance is with a tenor of five years, it matures in 2022, and has a profit rate of 6.5%.

Islamic Development Bank forms $500M science fund

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced it had formed a $500-million fund for scientific research. President Bandar Hajjar said the fund would find solutions to economic adversity using scientific innovations. He was speaking at the 33rd Ministerial Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) in Istanbul. Hajjar added that the bank had received 100 million Saudi riyals ($26.6 million) as contribution. He also added that to address the issue of youth unemployment a five-year program has been launched to improve cooperation between universities, research centers, non-governmental organizations and government departments.

Islamic banks brace to re-engineer itself to address customer needs in digital era

The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) is taking place on December 4th, 5th and 6th, in the kingdom of Bahrain. The theme for WIBC 2017 is Drivers of Economic Growth & Risks: Policymakers & Regulators. WIBC is expected to draw participation from over 1,300 global industry leaders, policy makers, innovators and stakeholders, all focused on navigating through the complexities of the global financial system. CEO of Path Solutions, Mohammed Kateeb, said the Islamic finance industry was going through drastic changes as a consequence of evolving customer behavior, channel proliferation and the digitization of operations. He underlined the importance of recognizing common challenges and opportunities facing the industry at large.

Dana Gas seen returning to table after London ruling

Dana Gas plans to appeal the UK court ruling on $700mn of its outstanding sukuk. According to Dana Gas, the decision by the London court is flawed because the UAE-based company was barred from participating in the proceedings due to an injunction at home. Judge George Leggatt said the English law contracts are enforceable in the case. Dana was challenging a provision called purchase undertaking, which allowed the trustee on behalf of investors to force Dana to buy them out of the agreement at par. Dana shares fell as much as 5.6% on the Abu Dhabi stock market on Sunday. The court ruling puts investors one step closer to resolving a dispute over the sukuk that highlighted one of the Islamic finance industry’s weak spots.

#Djibouti : Ismaïl Omar Guelleh a foi en la finance islamique

Le Global Islamic Finance Award, remis le 6 septembre au président Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, récompense la formidable croissance de la finance islamique à Djibouti. Depuis la libéralisation du secteur bancaire, en 2006, les trois acteurs du pays, Saba Islamic Bank, Salaam African Bank et East Africa Bank, sont parvenus à s’octroyer 25% des comptes et 21% du total des actifs de la place. En 2016, pour veiller à la régularité des produits financiers, le pays a d’ailleurs installé un Comité national de la charia. Depuis six ans, la Banque centrale de Djibouti organise le grand rendez-vous africain de la finance islamique, l’International Islamic Banking Summit in Africa (IIBSA), dont la prochaine édition aura lieu en 2018.

AfDB and IsDB partner to boost agriculture and fight drought in #Nigeria, #Somalia and #Uganda

A joint initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) will boost agriculture and enhance drought resilience in Nigeria, Somalia and Uganda. Stronger ties between the two banks will help ramp up agricultural production along important crop and livestock value chains. For example, in Nigeria the Plateau State Potato Value Chain Support Project of the AfDB and the planned IsDB’s Agro Pastoral Development Project in Kano State will promote higher household incomes through productive agro-pastoral activities. In Somalia, AfDB’s Say No To Famine project is providing emergency assistance support and facilitating drought resilience building through the restoration of community assets.

Noor Bank to move away from unsecured small business lending- CEO

UAE's Noor Bank is to move away from unsecured lending to small and medium-sized enterprises. CEO John Iossifidis said the bank was not turning its back on that sector, but it’s certainly not going to be the unfettered lending that was happening two years ago in the banking sector. Other local banks have already taken steps to cut their exposure to the SME sector. Noor Bank also intends to diversify its corporate loan book. In its retail business, the bank aims to shift its focus more towards affluent consumer clients by raising the minimum salary threshold for customers. Iossifidis said the bank had a 7% market share in the UAE mortgage market, giving it an advantage in capturing greater market share in the affluent market.

Dubai investors digest implications for #sukuk market after Dana Gas ruling

A High Court judge in London ruled in favour of creditors in a case regarding the validity of the purchase undertaking for about $700 million of sukuk issued by Dana Gas. The idea that Dana Gas has been able to assert for the past five months that its own sukuk were non-sharia-compliant has struck many observers as unusual. Judge George Leggatt said that Dana Gas' challenges to the validity and enforceability of the purchase undertaking were unfounded and declared the purchase undertaking for Dana's sukuk as valid and enforceable.

'We've been badly served by banks': the small firms seeking #ethical #banking

Dave Fishwick, the founder of Burnley Savings and Loans, put millions of pounds behind the belief that there’s a demand for ethical banking. He aims to link local savers with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in need of finance, run by a locally based bank manager who makes lending decisions based on deep personal knowledge, rather than an algorithm. Fishwick believes that ethical banks are needed: small, simple, honest banks run by the community to serve the community. While SMEs often can’t get loans from major banks, Conrad Ford, CEO of Funding Options, notes that a wave of challenger banks are offering help. They include Metro Bank, Civilised Bank and Greater London Mutual, all with an emphasis on integration with a defined community or locality.

MBSB-AFB Islamic banking entity to start off with RM42 bil assets, says CEO

Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) is expected to start off its new banking entity in the second quarter of next year with RM42 billion in Islamic assets. The company has recently secured an Islamic banking licence by acquiring Asian Finance Bank (AFB) in a RM644.95 million deal. MBSB’s banking subsidiary will be the country’s second largest standalone Islamic lender after Bank Islam Malaysia, which had assets of RM54.25 billion as at June 30. After the merger MBSB will continue to be the listed holding entity, while AFB will be the wholly-owned subsidiary that runs the banking business. According to MBSB's CEO, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zaini Othman, the banking entity will have a similar composition, with 70% in retail banking and 30% in corporate banking. Also, it will solidify its presence in the property, housing and infrastructure segments.

Madina Kalimullina: "Islamic banking recognized in #Russia"

In this interview Madina Kalimullina, adviser on Islamic economics, speaks about the Moscow Halal Expo and Islamic banking in Russia. Although legislation for Islamic banks is still missing, special groups in the Central Bank and the State Duma have been working on this topic. Today the state officially recognizes the concept of partner banking, which can be called Islamic banking. At the Moscow Halal Expo a halal installment plan was proposed, which removes all elements prohibitied from the point of view of Islamic standards. Over the last 8 years all international Sharia standards of Islamic financing were translated into Russian. So banks are gradually testing new products. This year's exhibition has two main topics. The first is cryptocurrencies and the second is multi-level marketing.

Dana Gas shares fall 4.17% on London #sukuk ruling

Dana Gas share prices fell 4.17% following Friday’s English High Court ruling against Dana Gas and in favour of bondholders. Danas said it plans to appeal the decision by the London court that declared the company’s $700 million sukuk valid and enforceable. Friday’s ruling was made in Dana Gas’s absence from the court. Dana Gas had earlier refused to repay debt owed to investors for two mudaraba sukuk worth $350 million each. The latest ruling does not mean that Dana Gas has to pay bondholders just yet, with another hearing in a UAE court scheduled for December 25.

Istanbul court rules FETO-linked Bank Asya bankrupt

An Istanbul court has declared bankruptcy of Bank Asya, affiliated with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). Bank Asya’s banking license was cancelled on July 22, 2016 by Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK). The agency had ruled for complete takeover of all shares of Bank Asya by the state-run Insurance Fund in May 2015. FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

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