EdAid has launched the first ever Sharia-compliant crowdfunding platform to finance Muslim students interest-free. QardHasan will help students raise up to £30,000 within 40 days, channelling funds from charitable trusts and potential employers. The UK-based impact investment firm looks to contribute to each crowdfunding campaign by doubling every £500 raised by a borrower through the platform. The firm's founder and chief executive Tom Woolf said the new platform aims to provide affordable and fair funding options to Muslims. Woolf said the project falls somewhere in between LinkedIn and Kickstarter, as it helps students build up a broader network for their academic and professional career.
On March 15 Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank appointed Khamis Buharoun as acting CEO. The appointment of acting CEO Khamis Buharoun is in context of CEO Tirad Marouf Al Mahmoud's medical leave.
Islamic finance is increasingly making inroads into the US in a variety of forms, but widely out of the radar of the broader public. In the recent past, there has been a rise in the number of Islamic financial service providers. There are now about three dozen official Islamic finance providers in the US. Among the top institutions offering Islamic financial services in the country in terms of asset size are Lariba American Finance House and the associated Bank of Whittier in Los Angeles, as well as University Islamic Financial in Michigan. In terms of skills training, Harvard University has an Harvard Islamic Finance Program and the Franco-American Alliance for Islamic Finance is organising Islamic finance seminars this summer. On the consumer side, Islamic finance in the US is mostly prevalent in the real estate market.
Islamic Bank of Thailand plans to set up an asset management team to handle its Bt48 billion in non-performing loans. The bank also plans to invite 35 financial firms to invest in the bank to restructure its business and boost its new loans, which stand at Bt30 billion. Chairman Chaiwat Utaiwan said Islamic Bank aimed to sell its 74.5% stake in the bank, the remaining stake is owned by Finance Ministry. According to its restructure plan, the bank needs new capital of Bt20 billion in order to adhere to Bank of Thailand standards. The bank has outstanding loan worth Bt95 billion.
According to Moody's Investors Service, the profitability of Islamic banks' in the Gulf cooperation Council (GCC) region will outpace that of their conventional peers for the second consecutive year in 2017. Islamic banks will maintain stronger margins in 2017, primarily as a result of their low funding costs, which reflect their reliance on stable current and savings account balances. Islamic banks also tend to have higher asset yields, given their focus on retail and the real estate related lending. Moody's expects that Islamic banks will retain a margin advantage of about 40 basis points over conventional banks in 2017. Moody's analyst Nitish Bhojnagarwala says conventional banks will continue to beat Islamic peers in terms of cost efficiency. Islamic banks are investing in branch network expansion, while conventional banks have already established their branch networks.
According to a new survey by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association, incorporation of environmental, social, governance and ethics principles into the investment process is growing in importance. More than three quarters (77%) of respondents to the survey agreed that responsible investing is more important than it was three years ago, while 78% anticipate it will be more important three years from now. When asked to rank the largest drivers of adoption of responsible investing and ESG approaches, respondents chose: Adoption of industry standards (71%); Pressure from institutional investors (67%); and Positive investment return outcomes (64%). A total of 647 CAIA members participated in the survey, which was conducted in January 2017.
The #Malaysian Securities Commission (SC) released its SC 2016 Annual Report. The report states that the Malaysian capital market remains resilient and sustainable, growing in an orderly trajectory, attracting sound investor interest. According to SC chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh, the outlook for the Malaysian capital market in 2017 is positive. The SC is in capacity-boosting mode armed with several initiatives. These include launching the new Malaysian Code of Corporate Governance, the approval of RM5.95 million by the nascent Capital Market Development Fund aimed at encouraging new entrants into the industry, and the establishment of an Institute for Capital Market Research in 2017. This complements the initiatives by the SC in 2015 and last year, including the introduction of the first Equity Crowdfunding Framework in the region and a peer-to-peer financing framework.
The Arab Regulators Conference, hosted by the Arab Monetary Fund, took place on 8-9 March in Abu Dhabi. The two-day conference was an opportunity for regulators to engage in an open dialogue on how to strengthen the development of corporate governance across the region. The conference was attended by over 160 delegates from 17 different countries from both the regulatory and the private sectors. Abdullatif Al Othman, Chairman of Saudi Arabian Industrial Investments (SAIIC) highlighted the importance of corporate governance. He urged attendees to adopt the highest international standards of corporate governance, to help move the region from frontier markets to emerging markets to developed markets. This year, board diversity and women’s role on the board were also widely discussed as were governance trends and best practices.
The Responsible Finance & Investment (RFI) Summit 2017 has announced a series of Executive Sessions organized by the RFI Foundation and INCEIF, the Global University of Islamic finance. These sessions will introduce participants from all backgrounds to the connection between Islamic Finance and Responsible Finance. INCEIF President Daud Vicary Abdullah said the alignment between the guiding principles of Islamic finance and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was significant. Daud added that these interactive Executive Sessions would provide a platform for people working in responsible finance who do not realize the alignment of responsible investment with Islamic finance.
The Central Bank of #Kenya (CBK) announced it was in final stages of licensing two banks, DIB Bank Kenya, which is owned by Dubai Islamic Bank, and Mayfair Bank which is owned by Kenyan investors. The two firms had received an "approval in principle" before the indefinite suspension of new banks. CBK suspended the licensing of new banks on November 17, 2015 saying it needed to strengthen oversight. The moratorium stalled entry of international banks into the country, where commercial banks have come under closer scrutiny from the regulator because of increasing bad debts. CBK governor Patrick Njoroge said the local banking sector has made huge improvements over the past year, adding that CBK’s supervision department has improved its monitoring capacity.
Bahrain's GFH Financial Group may merge with Dubai-based Shuaa Capital, GFH said in a statement. A web of ties between GFH and Shuaa began forming last year. In May, Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) and GFH said they were jointly setting up an Islamic bank called ADCorp with initial capital of $100 million. In November, ADFG bought a 48.36% stake in Shuaa, which has a market capitalisation of about $535 million. In December, Shuaa bought 14% of Bahrain's Khaleeji Commercial Bank for $25 million. GFH owns 47% of Khaleeji. On Sunday, Shuaa said it would acquire Integrated Capital and Integrated Securities, both controlled by ADFG. Integrated Capital owns 11.74% of GFH. ADFG officials did not respond to requests for comment about the possible merger.
ZPay, a payment application for foreign tourists in Iran, has won Bank Pasargad Iran’s award for best fintech innovation at the First Fintech Festival. ZPay enables foreigners to shop in Iran while keeping their money outside the country. Iran is doing much to improve its fintech standing. Earlier this month, it was reported that Iran had launched a FinTech Association to push for further development. And yet, while the capital Tehran is home to a growing number of local fintech startups, Iran still has a long way to go before it can be considered a fintech hub.
A low-income housing policy will be introduced in Dubai, to provide housing units for individuals earning low income and renovate some old areas in the emirate. The Crown Prince of Dubai HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved the policy. It will classify low-income people into Emiratis and non-Emiratis, including expats and workers, in strategic sectors in Dubai. The policy will also include families’ income levels, place of residence, and public benefits and will compare them with requirements and the extent of challenges families are facing. Sheikh Hamdan approved two main programmes. The first one aims to cooperate with real estate developers in order to provide housing units for low-income families while the second aims to refurbish some old areas in Dubai.
Saudi Arabia hired Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC as global coordinators on its international Islamic bond sale. The kingdom also picked Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas among others as lead managers for the sale. The sukuk could come as soon as this month. Saudi secretary-general of the Finance Committee, Mohammad Al Tuwaijri, announced in December the kingdom's plans to raise between $10 billion and $15 billion from international bond markets in 2017 and sell about 70 billion riyals locally. The world’s biggest oil exporter is considering international and domestic debt issues to help finance its budget deficit.
The Kenyan capital markets regulatory authority and the Nairobi Securities Exchange today visited the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for cooperation between the two exchanges. The two sides will share information and technical assistance in respect of processes and procedures relating to listing, trading, depository operations, clearing and settlement. Mr. Samuel Kimani, Chairman of the Nairobi Stock Exchange, said that his is a young exchange looking for further development and cooperation opportunities. Rashid bin Ali Al-Mansoori, CEO of Qatar Stock Exchange, expressed his happiness and hope that the MOU will help enhance the economic cooperation between the two countries.
Towards the end of this month Bank Muscat is expected to raise OMR23-30 million, which is the first tranche of Meethaq’s OMR100 million-sukuk programme. Meethaq is Bank Muscat’s pioneer Islamic banking window in Oman. The bank has already received an initial approval from stock market regulator Capital Market Authority (CMA). Bank Muscat's Deputy CEO Sulaiman Al Harthy said the sukuk programme starts with a small amount, maybe OMR25-30 million to test the market and see the market appetite. Al Harthy also noted that this year, Islamic financial institutions are expected to grow at a similar rate as seen last year. Meethaq Islamic financing receivables rose to OMR855 million by end-December 2016, compared to OMR635 million in the same period in 2015.
Noor Bank CEO Hussain Al Qemzi has ruled out possibilities of any possible mergers in the UAE’s Islamic banks. The last merger is between First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi, expected to complete by end of first quarter 2017. The merged entity is likely to create one of the largest banks in the Middle East and Africa, with assets of $175 billion (AED642bn). Al Qemzi said Islamic banks need innovation to integrate and position themselves to offer value and a better choice for Muslim and non-Muslim customers in order to grow. The CEO said a shortage of Sharia scholars was also impeding growth of the Islamic finance industry with many institutions in the country sharing advisors.
Metito is the largest privately held water treatment company in the Middle East. Metito’s African operations account for nearly about a third of its revenues and the current backlog is around $300 million. Metito approached Islamic banks in early 2014 to tap on their resources to support the Group’s growth. As of today, a major of the long-term financing that the group has received in GCC region is comprised mostly of Shari'ah-compliant financing tools. The total size of Islamic financing facilities currently in use stand at around $150 million and the share is expected to increase over the next 12 months. The Group has so far availed three types of Islamic finance financing tools, Musharakah, Ijarah and Murabahah. CFO Wafic Ghanem said Metito has not yet considered tapping into Sukuk issuance for its African business given the infancy of Sukuk market in the continent.
Corrigenda: Wafic Ghanem has been reported being Group CEO before.
On Feb. 26 the Iranian government got the parliament approval to sell a total of 10 trillion rials ($308 million) worth of excess properties owned by its ministries. The raised money is expected to help shore up the troubled Post Bank of Iran and the Cooperative Development Bank. According to economic newspaper Donya-e Eqtesad, toxic assets account for 40-45% of total banking assets in the country. Nearly 15% of these assets consist of immovable assets such as land and buildings. The rest consists of nonperforming loans and government debt. The sale of at least 33% of the surplus assets could have taken place in the fiscal year running to March 20, but banks eventually decided to find a legal way to postpone the sale process. Real estate expert Farhad Beizaei accused banks of wasting time so that they can sell properties at higher prices next year.
The United Arab Emirates' Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) plans to issue convertible sukuk equivalent to 10% of the lender's capital. Funds raised through the debt sale will be used by Islamic endowments selected by the government of the emirate of Sharjah. The bank also authorised a capital increase to 2.67 billion dirhams ($726 million) from 2.43 billion dirhams.