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Lack of awareness behind low demand for Sharia-compliant mortgages

Specialist Sharia Islamic mortgages are available with certain lenders but take-up is currently low. According to Lilla Dilliway, mortgage and protection adviser at BlueWing Financials, the low demand is because applicable borrowers are unaware that a Sharia-compliant mortgage is a possibility, especially in the UK. When compared, a Sharia mortgage’s part rent, part capital repayment aspect means that borrowers may find it difficult to meet the affordability criteria and/or have eligibility issues based on their credit history. Sharia-compliant mortgages are often also more expensive due to the higher administration costs of the lender. Dilliway suggests that if Sharia-compliant mortgages were advertised and promoted in the same way as mainstream mortgages, an increase in take-up might be seen.

Boubyan Bank announces a successful offer for BLME Holdings plc (BLME)

Boubyan Bank had received valid acceptances in respect of a total of 73,263,270 BLME Shares. On 27 January 2020, Boubyan Bank announced that all conditions to the offer were either satisfied or waived and the offer became unconditional. The offer will remain open for acceptances until 1.00 p.m. (London time) on 19 February 2020. Following completion of the offer, Boubyan Bank intends that BLME will continue to operate as a standalone group within the wider Boubyan Bank business.

Al Baraka Bank Egypt confirms its intent to launch digital bank

Al Baraka Bank Egypt is establishing a digital bank, as it decided to increase the capital to EGP 5 billion through 3 years abiding by the Central Bank of Egypt's (CBE) new act. The bank injected EGP 1.7 billion joint funding to the national projects aiming to reach EGP 5 billion in 2023, as well as it will provide in principles 100 Automated Teller Machines (ATM), targeting to reach 200 ATMs during the upcoming period.

Interest-Free Banking in #Sweden: How much is it Islamic? – Dr. Akmal S. Hyder

This study goes into the depth of a European bank which entirely practices interest-free banking for its saving and lending operations. The study shows that there are some similarities between JAK and Islamic banks but differences are many. One difference lies in the service offerings as JAK only deal with savings and lending and does not get involved in profit-loss sharing which is central to Islamic banking. Islamic banks can learn from JAK how to educate their customers so that business gets clear to them. By comparing with Islamic banking, the European bank management can have the idea how far they do Islamic banking and what is unique with their bank. The European bank management has to deal with new challenges how much they can grow of being a non-profit organization in the long run.

Stronger GCC appetite set to spur uptick in #sukuk issuance in 2020

A stronger appetite for sukuk issuance in some GCC countries is among the key factors that promise to spark an uptick in the market. S&P Global Ratings estimates a total sukuk issuance of between $160 billion and $170 billion this year, representing 5% growth on the $162 billion seen in 2019. The total estimated issuances include $40 billion-$45 billion of foreign currency sukuks. The expected upswing in sukuk issuances will be underpinned by high levels of liquidity in Indonesia, Turkey's efforts to tap all available financing sources, and the good performance in Malaysia. The green sukuk market will continue to expand, aided by opportunities related to energy mix diversification in the GCC/Malaysia and investor diversification. As GCC countries begin their transition toward less carbon-intensive economies, green projects are set to flourish. Some of these projects will likely be funded via the sukuk market.

AAOIFI partners with Turkish Islamic banks to promote Islamic finance

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has signed an MOU with the Participation Banks Association of Turkey (TKBB) to collaborate in the promotion of Islamic finance in Turkey. AAOIFI and TKBB agreed to work in areas of common interest, such as the meaningful exchange of information and conducting joint capacity-building programmes. Osman Akyüz, the Secretary General of TKBB, said that they would also focus on increased representation of Turkish experts in AAOIFI’s boards and committees. AAOIFI Secretary-General Omar Mustafa Ansari emphasized the role of TKBB for the growth of Islamic finance in Turkey and assured the full support of their initiatives and activities.

Bridging the gap between faith and investment discussed by investors, asset managers, developers, churches

Cooperation between different groups was the focus of recent a two-day conference held at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference titled: "FaithInvest: Impactful Cooperation" was sponsored by the Geneva Agape Foundation, World Council of Churches (WCC), and the UK-based group FaithInvest. The organizers of the conference said that churches and church-related institutions with their pension funds and capital invest billions of dollars worldwide. Bright Mawudor, head of finance and deputy general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), spoke on sustainable church investments in Africa. He said the AACC has an ambitious plan to make the organization a 'donor' organization by 2025. Other speakers reflected on how to build innovative bridges using the United Nations and Geneva as a global center.

Dubai Islamic Bank completes the acquisition of Noor Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has completed the acquisition of Noor Bank through a share swap deal. As part of the agreement, DIB has issued 651 million new shares to take its issued share capital to 7.2 billion shares. The new DIB shares have been listed and admitted to trading on the Dubai Financial Market. The GCC financial services industry is witnessing a wave of consolidation as banks seek ways to improve competitiveness. Earlier this week, the National Bank of Bahrain acquired a 78.8% stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank. Similarly, Alizz Islamic Bank’s Board of Directors approved a share swap ratio for the proposed merger with Oman Arab Bank.

Saudi SRC buys $67mln mortgage portfolio from Bank Aljazira

The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC), a subsidiary of the Saudi Public Investment Fund signed an agreement with Bank Aljazira to buy a SAR 250 million mortgage portfolio. The two entities signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that allows SRC to buy more mortgage portfolios from the bank. SRC seeks to inject more liquidity into the Saudi mortgage sector through the acquisition of mortgage portfolios. Bank Aljazira’s net profit increased by 3.8% to SAR 256.9 million in Q3-19, compared to SAR 247.4 million in Q3-18.

Alizz-OAB #merger to provide customers with better services

The upcoming proposed merger between Alizz Islamic Bank and Oman Arab Bank (OAB) will provide customers with better services and more outlets. Al Yusr Islamic Banking, Oman Arab Bank’s Islamic window with all its branches and staff will become part of Alizz Islamic, which will remain as a fully licensed Islamic bank. Under this merger, Alizz Islamic Bank will be fully owned under Oman Arab Bank and will see the former continue to operate as an Islamic bank, with its services available to all existing customers, as well as OAB customers. The latter, however, will continue to function as a conventional bank.

UK: Inaugural Meeting for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamic Finance

There will be an inaugural meeting for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamic Finance held on Tuesday 4th February in the Grimond Room in Portcullis House at 4pm.

At the meeting, the office bearers will be elected and a brief plan for the Group’s activities in the coming year will be put forward.

The purpose of the APPGIF is to give the Islamic finance industry a voice in Parliament; to address issues as they arise such as Sukuk issuances, inclusivity, regulation and taxation whilst positioning the UK as the European hub of Islamic financial services, and also to play a wider role in promoting ethical finance. The Group is a robust body and has enjoyed cross-party support and in addition there are over 90 stakeholders.

Kuwait Finance House Shareholders Give Green Card to AUB’s Acquisition

Kuwait Finance House has affirmed plans to purchase Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank. The merger can possibly become the Gulf’s sixth-biggest lender with $101 billion in assets. Reaching the value of about $101 billion, the acquisition will generate the largest Islamic banking entity in the world in terms of assets. Based on its past performance, the annual forecast profit of the merger is $1.5 billion. The shareholder equity of the new entity will be $10.5 billion. Besides Kuwait Finance House, Dubai Islamic Bank in the UAE has also received shareholders’ approval for purchasing Noor Bank via capital increase and share swap. The merger will potentially be valued at AED 275 billion.

One of Germany’s senior Muslim diplomats, Murad Hoffman, returns to his Lord

The well-known scholar and diplomat, Murad Hoffman, has passed to meet his Lord. May Allah have mercy upon him. Murad Hofmann was born a Catholic in 1931 in Aschaffenburg, Germany. He later studied at the University of Munich and Harvard University. Hofmann converted to Islam in 1980 as a result of witnessing the Algerian War of Independence, in addition to his admiration of Islamic art. His reversion was met with political resistance due to his high profile in the German government. Hofmann served as a diplomat for Germany for 33 years, beginning in 1961. He served as ambassador to Algeria and Morocco from 1987 to 1994, and was director of information for NATO.

Results of global family philanthropy survey released

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) and Campden Wealth published the report "Global Trends and Strategic Time Horizons in Family Philanthropy 2020". The report is based on a survey of 201 families of significant wealth who are engaged in philanthropic giving. According to the report, education is the top cause families give to globally, constituting 29% of the average philanthropic portfolio, followed by health at 14%, and the arts, culture and sports at 10%. Just 8% of giving goes towards the environment global concern for climate change. According to Dr. Rebecca Gooch, Director of Research at Campden Wealth, we are in the early stages of a significant transition in which vast sums of wealth are changing hands between generations. The emerging generation is acutely aware of the largescale global challenges it will face, such as climate change.

Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education appoint Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar as CEO

The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) has appointed Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar as Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Ben Jaafar’s experience in the education development sector spans over 20 years in Canada, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Her leadership roles working on major educational development projects include engagement with the American Institute of Research, Ericsson, UNESCO, UNICEF, and War Child UK. His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said that her commitment to inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning makes her an excellent addition to the AGFE team.

Dubai’s Fajr Capital sells its stake in Bank Islam Brunei

Dubai-based Fajr Capital has completed its divestment from Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) to Brunei Investment Agency. Fajr Capital stated that this transaction marks another successful exit for the firm, following several recent high-profile divestments. The bank’s transformation journey resulted in enhanced customer experience through the introduction of internet banking and new digital platforms, international expansion and improved financial performance with the bank’s net income more than doubling.

CIMB Islamic contributes RM1 million for conservation efforts of Setiu Wetlands

CIMB Islamic Bank has committed RM1 million per year, renewable annually for up to 3 years for the conservation efforts of Setiu Wetlands, Terengganu. The three-year project with a total potential commitment of RM3 million, is in collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia). The project contributes towards safeguarding Setiu Wetlands’ healthy and functioning ecosystem by establishing a critical knowledge base to guide sustainable development. This is CIMB’s third collaboration with WWF-Malaysia on strategic conservation projects, subsequent to the project in Ulu Muda, Kedah, and in Ba’ Kelalan and Long Semadoh in Sarawak.

Alizz Islamic Bank approves share swap for proposed merger with OAB

Alizz Islamic Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a share swap ratio for its proposed merger with Oman Arab Bank (OAB). The share swap ratio is around 81%: 19% for the shareholders of OAB and Alizz Islamic Bank respectively. The proposed merger and the indicative swap ration will remain subject to the approval of the shareholders. On completion of the merger, Alizz Islamic Bank will continue to operate as a dedicated Islamic banking franchise with management autonomy.

DAVOS-Capitalism seen doing "more harm than good" in global survey

A majority of people around the world believe capitalism in its current form is doing more harm than good. The survey was launched in 2000 to explore the theories of political scientist Francis Fukuyama, who after the collapse of communism declared that liberal capitalist democracy had seen off rival ideologies and so represented "the end of history". That conclusion has since been challenged by several critics. Of possible interest to corporate leaders gathering in Davos this week was the finding that trust in business outweighed that in governments and that 92% of employees said CEOs should speak out on the social and ethical issues of the day.

Boubyan Bank's profits in 2019

Boubyan Bank has reported net profit of KD 62.7 million in 2019, at a growth rate of 12% compared to 2018, with an earnings per share of 20.4 fils compared to 19.2 fils in 2018. Boubyan Bank CEO Adel Abdul Wahab Al-Majed said that the total equity of the bank increased to KD 575 million by the end of 2019 and the operating income increased to KD 146 million. The year 2019 witnessed the introduction of many new services and products. All-new smart phone Apps were launched in addition to the issuance, activation and use of the virtual prepaid card through Boubyan App. Additionally, the bank earned its verified badge in WhatsApp business and successfully integrated the bank’s Chatbot service, Msa3ed, with WhatsApp business.

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