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The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has published a Guidance Note for Shariah Compliant Funds

The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has published a Guidance Note for Shariah Compliant Funds.

The document explains how the legal and regulatory framework established under the Investment
Services Act would apply to Shariah-compliant funds established under Maltese law.
The MFSA stated that Malta’s principles-based regulatory regime lays emphasis on the
disclosure of all information that the investor needs to know before taking the investment
decision and on the transparency of investment management process itself. This allows a
high degree of freedom on the choice of investment strategies and asset allocation
policies adopted by investment funds, subject to conditions that vary according to the
level of experience and investment expertise of the target investor.

On this basis, the Guidance Note establishes that, whether set up as Professional Investor
Funds, UCITS or non-UCITS Retail Funds, Shariah Funds may be regulated in the same
manner as non-Shariah Funds. The level of disclosure and the applicable conditions
would be the same as those that are applicable to the respective category of retail or

Launch of International Islamic Finance Journal from Dubai

Press Release

Today sees the launch of a new Journal on Islamic finance from dedicated Islamic finance media entity Yasaar Media.

The Journal, called So Far – the Journal of Strategic Thinking in Islamic Finance, is written and edited by members of an Islamic finance Think Tank and is modelled on traditional academic journals. The difference with So Far is that the members of the Think Tank are predominantly practitioners rather than academics.
Member of the Think Tank are drawn from the ranks of committed Islamic finance professionals around the world and range from the Gulf and the Far East to the USA and Europe.

Each issue of So Far is dedicated to a single topic of core importance to the Islamic finance industry – and the launch issue looks at the thorny issue of the problems facing the Sukuk market. Unlike many other journals So Far is distributed free in PDF format and is available from a variety of sources including Yasaar Media thus guaranteeing maximum readership and exposure.

Shari’ah-Compliant Master Agreement Introduced for Hedging Islamic Finance Transactions

On March 1, 2010 after many months of work, ISDA (the International Swaps and Derivatives Association) and IIFM (International Islamic Financial Market) jointly issued the first Shari'ah-compliant master agreement for over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives.[1] Styled the "ISDA / IIFM Ta'Hawwut Master Agreement" (ta'hawwut signifies "hedging" in Arabic), the new template master agreement (the "Ta'Hawwut Agreement") provides a framework for the expansion of derivatives activity in the Middle East, South Asia and many regions throughout the world where hedging is not currently standard practice due to ethical concerns. While based on the 2002 ISDA Master Agreement (the "2002 Master Agreement") and with many terms familiar to participants in swap markets, the Ta'Hawwut Agreement has been developed under the guidance and approval of the IIFM Shari'ah Advisory Panel. The Ta'Hawwut Agreement is therefore expected to be used as a reference for market participants where they or their customers need to hedge risks in line with Shari'ah principles.

Bahrain's Gulf Finance to set up $326 million Syrian unit

Bahrain's Gulf Finance House (GFH) said it was close to setting up a $326 million unit in Syria as the Islamic investment bank looks to boost revenues in a relatively untapped banking market.

World's Biggest Islamic Bank Planned

Bahrain will establish the world's biggest Islamic bank within the next 6 to 12 months. The creation of a planned Islamic investment megabank is in "fairly advanced stages" and it will likely be launched in the next 6 to 12 months, an executive at a firm advising on the project said this week, Barcelona News wrote.

Allianz Takaful in talks on sukuk issue - CEO

Allianz Takaful is in talks with a regional Islamic institution, urging it to issue a sukuk bond earmarked for the industry, as it struggles to find long term issues in the market, its chief executive said. It has been difficult for takaful - or sharia compliant - insurers to sell products like annuities and pension plans because of the lack of long term Islamic bonds to match such liabilities.

Deutsche Bank to bring major sukuk to ME market

Deutsche Bank expects to bring to the market a "major" Islamic bond in Saudi Arabia by the end of the first quarter, as part of a wider push into the world's largest oil exporter, a company executive said on Tuesday.

Gulf banks seen launching sukuk funds

Several banks in the Gulf region are considering launching Islamic bond, or sukuk, funds, some likely in the first half of the year, a top fund manager said on Wednesday.

Fatwa shopping? Not for Barclays

The limited number of Sharia scholars has meant the same group of men are on various advisory boards which has led to criticism that people can go “fatwa shopping” and that scholars are in it for the money. Not so, says Harris Irfan, head of Islamic products at Barclays Capital.

Takaful: Re-Framing Growth Strategies for New Economic Realities

The opening Keynote Plenary session at The 5th Annual World Takaful Conference (WTC 2010) will feature take-home strategies by leading industry decision makers, testimony of the overall significance of the forum in shaping the future of the global Takaful industry.

CGAP, Deutsche Bank, Grameen-Jameel and IDB partner to launch ‘Islamic Microfinance Challenge 2010'

For Immediate Release

March 8, 2010–CGAP, Deutsche Bank, Grameen-Jameel and Islamic Development Bank have joined forces to challenge the Islamic microfinance industry to develop new ideas for business models in the Islamic Microfinance Challenge 2010: Innovating Sustainable, Scalable, and Market-Driven Models. Islamic microfinance has gained some traction over the past few years, with a swift rise in the number of institutions offering microfinance products in compliance with Islamic principles. But the fundamental challenge for the Islamic microfinance industry remains meeting client demand with affordable, authentic, profitable, and market-driven products.

Al Mal, Qatar authorisation withdrawn

Following an investigation into the activities of Al Mal, an authorised firm in the Qatar Financial Centre (“QFC”), the QFC Regulatory Authority has taken the decision to withdraw the authorisation of Al Mal.

Saudi regulator fines top Islamic lender al-Rajhi

Saudi Arabia's regulator has fined the country's biggest Islamic bank, Al-Rajhi , for not notifying it about the resignation of two senior executives, the regulator said.

Nakheel sukuk unlikely to be paid, all options open-source

Dubai World which is in talks to restructure some $22 billion debt, is unlikely to pay off developer Nakheel's $980 million Islamic bond, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday, and all options are open.

Asya Bank makes mark in cards

Asya Participation Bank is now directly accessing the international financial markets for financing. Asya Bank is also innovating new products including a new card family, under the "DIT Pratik" brand. The DIT Pratik card is a EMV contactless card.

Masraf Al Rayan launches Shariah-compliant fund

Masraf Al Rayan (MAR), an Islamic bank in Qatar, has launched $1.1 billion (Dh4bn) Al Rayan GCC Fund which would be managed by Al Rayan Investment. The Shariah-compliant value fund will take a medium to long-term perspective, investing in GCC-listed equities as well as fixed-income and money-market instruments. Where possible, the fund will seek to take an activist investment approach.

AME Info, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, finance and economy briefs

The following news has been placed in summary at the website given.

TADAWUL EDGES LOWER
ADX GAINS 0.78 PERCENT
DFM SEES SLIGHT DROP
NEW GLOBAL STANDARDS ISSUED FOR ISLAMIC DERIVATIVES
DUBAI'S DEBT IS $109BN, SAYS IMF
GULF STATES SHOULD DROP DOLLAR PEG, SAYS HEDGE FUND CHIEF
OMAN'S 2009 BUDGET DEFICIT SMALLER THAN PLANNED
DUBAI AIMING FOR BUDGET SURPLUS IN 2011
TADAWUL DIPS 0.55 PERCENT
ADX EDGES HIGHER
DFM SEES SLIGHT GAIN
MAF ASSET MANAGEMENT TRIMS FUND SIZE
WORLD BANK TO PROVIDE $250M LOAN TO IRAQ
NATIONAL BONDS DISTRIBUTES 3.53 PERCENT PROFIT
BAHRAIN'S ARCAPITA CUTS JOBS BY 15 PERCENT
RAS AL KHAIMAH RATED 'A' BY STANDARD AND POOR'S

Please read the website to get the full summary of the news.

Promoting reading culture can contribute to SME growth

Dr Saad, who presented his working paper during the 2010 International Conference on Islamic Finance at Rizqun International Hotel in Gadong yesterday, explained how Islamic micro-financing could help alleviate poverty by giving a small amount of financing to those who want to start up a business.

Bahrain-Based Gulf Finance House Raised to 'CCC-/C'; Outlook Negative

Press Release

*Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House earlier today completed the partial extension of a
$100 million facility. We consider this as another "distressed exchange" due to
partial extension of initial maturity. *We then reassessed GFH's creditworthiness
and raised the ratings to 'CCC-/C'. *The outlook is negative and reflects our
opinion of GFH's very weak liquidity position, from a rating standpoint, because it
still faces challenges to meet debt repayments coming due in the very near term.

PARIS (Standard & Poor's) March 3, 2010--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today
said it raised its long- and short-term counterparty credit ratings on Bahrain-based
Gulf Finance House G.S.C. (GFH) to 'CCC-/C' from 'SD/SD' (selective default). The
outlook is negative.

"The rating action follows GFH's completion of the partial extension of maturity of
a $100 million facility," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Goeksenin Karagoez.

The first tranche of this facility was a $50 million payment due March 3, 2010, with
the remainder due on March 3, 2011. We understand that GFH has obtained consent for

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