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#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.

RM100b corporate bonds, #sukuk issuances to be expected

The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) is expecting up to RM100 billion worth of corporate bonds and sukuk issuance this year. The regulator said the Covid-19 outbreak and the resultant disruption on businesses have affected fundraising activities. Thus any non-payment of profit arising from the current challenging operating landscape is very likely due to credit rather than Shariah issues and would therefore be dealt with from a credit perspective. SC deputy CEO Datuk Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin said that Malaysia continues to maintain its leadership in the Islamic capital markets (ICMs). The SC noted that ICM represented 63.57% of Malaysia’s capital market, with market size of RM2.04 trillion as of December 2019, an 8.23% growth over 2018. The SC added that the Islamic fund management industry also witnessed new and innovative investment product offerings. These include Islamic exchange-traded funds based on gold, SRI Islamic funds, as well as social and green sukuk.

ADCB to lead NMC Health lenders group formed to hold talks on $6.6bn debt

NMC Health's biggest creditors have set up a coordinating committee, taking a major step toward restructuring the $6.6 billion debt of the hospital operator. The company asked Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) to chair a coordinating committee of debtholders. Deloitte and Clifford Chance have been appointed to advise the committee while Lazard will work with its chair. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Barclays and Standard Chartered will join Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank to form an initial steering group that will lead talks with NMC. NMC is being run by administrators Alvarez & Marsal after succumbing to creditor demands. NMC Health was suspended in February amid allegations of fraud. It has revealed more than $4 billion of undisclosed borrowings, pushing its total debt to $6.6 billion.

#Malaysia’s BIMB Investment launches Shariah-ESG robo-advisor

BIMB Investment launched a robo-intelligence investing platform focused on sustainable and Shariah-ESG assets. BEST Invest will give investors access to a suite of BIMB Investment’s Shariah-ESG unit trust funds across asset classes including global equities, Asia Pacific equities, sukuk, and money market. BIMB Investment became an official signatory of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) in July last year. At the time, the company’s CEO said it had integrated more than 250 ESG metrics in its investment process since 2015. The new robo-advisor will allow users to either start investing for themselves or enable the system to identify and select the best investment methods. Investments start at 10 ringgit with a zero sales charge.

#UK digital challenger bank Rizq eyeing summer launch

Rizq, a UK-based Islamic digital challenger bank is preparing for its launch this summer. Akmal Saleem, the fintech’s co-founder and CEO is positioning Rizq from the Muslim lifestyle perspective, so the new bank wants to solve mainstream banking issues for Muslims in the West. According to Saleem, Muslims in the UK still use conventional current accounts because they do not see a true alternative. Established in late February, Rizq will be both an app and web-based digital challenger bank. The company has applied for a license from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the registration is on track for acceptance by May 29. The digital challenger will offer a current account first and a premium account at a later stage. The company is working with a major card provider and will offer a debit card for both accounts.

#Egypt FRA eyes 5 #sukuk offerings in 2020

Egypt's Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) plans for five new sukuk offerings worth EGP 5 billion this year. In early April, FRA approved issuing the first-of-kind sukuk in favor of the Arab Company for Projects and Urban Development, a subsidiary of TMG Holding (TMGH). The total value of this Islamic financing facility is estimated at EGP 2 billion. Additionally, Sarwa Capital has been granted in July 2019 the country’s first sukuk issuer license by FRA. This gives Sarwa the green light to issue Islamic bonds through its sukuk arm, Sarwa Sukuk Company.

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