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Amlak and Tamweel's future direction is getting clearer

Nadia Saleem reported in the Gulf News that the possible merger of the UAE's largest Islamic mortgage providers, Amlak Finance and Tamweel, is in the final stages of being resolved, while the liquidation option has been taken off the table and quotes Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy informing reporters about it.

Aside from merger, keeping them seperate and liquidation was under discussion.

Gulf Opportunity Fund is taking a 70% stake in L'azurde

The Gulf Opportunity Fund made it's second investment by taking a 70% stake in L'azurde, the world's fourth largest manufacturer of gold and jewellery and leading Middle East brand. The Fund is led by Investcorp and its consortium partners Eastgate Capital Group, is the private equity investment arm of NCB group of Saudi Arabia, and The National Investor.

Export Credit Insurance by ICIEC

The Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) is offering Export Credit Insurance which offers to protect the exporters from the risk of payment default by their buyers or importers on one hand, and offers them a number of indirect and direct financing products on the other hand. This dual solution approach mitigates the principal inherent risks in international trade, encouraging exporters in entering new markets and expanding customer base.

The concept was presented in Saudi-Arabia and the ICIEC is going to present the possibilities to other IDB member countries.

Nigeria circulates draft of Islamic banking regulation

According to Les Afriques the Central Bank of Nigeria is circulating a draft of their regulation for Sharia compliant financial institutions.

IDB plans USD 500 mn sukuk

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) said that it planned a USD 500 mn sukuk, to finance its 2009 financing program.

Russian VTB Bank to enter sukuk issuance market

Oksana Kobzeva reported on 18 March on ArabianBusiness that Russia's second largest bank VTB may become the country's first issuer of sukuk. VTB Capital and Liquidity Management House, a subsidiary of Kuwait Finance House, on Wednesday signed a protocol of intention aimed at cooperating in the development of Islamic finance in Russia and other former Soviet countries.

VTB Capital is headed Yuri Solovyov

AlKhabeer joins Islamic finance conference in Spain

Al-Khabeer has been invited to participate as the only private company from the Arab World in the first-ever Business Forum on Islamic Finance, organized by the IE Business School in Spain in collaboration with the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. A total of 50 senior-level corporate executives, ambassadors and journalists are expected to take part in the forum, which will include working papers, round-table discussions and Q&As.

The forum will be an excellent venue to identify new growth opportunities and discuss business prospects with potential partners from Spain and Latin America.

Allianz Takaful begins Bahrain operations

Allianz Takaful, the regional subsidiary of Allianz Group, has announced the launch of its Middle East operations in Bahrain. The company will be offering Allianz's globally trusted financial services in full compliance with Sharia principles. The company will be introducing a variety of products starting from motor insurance to sophisticated items such as retirement and saving schemes.

Dr Abdul Rahman Khalil Tolefa is CEO.

Global sukuk sales to fall again in 2009

Experts are expecting further drop in Sukuk isssuance in 2009. Local currencies help to support the markets, K. Salman Younis, head of Kuwait Finance House's Asian operations was cited.

Islamic Bank of Britain reduces losses in 2008

Islamic Bank of Britain, which offers Sharia-compliant banking services for individuals and businesses, reduced its loss by 15 % to GBP 5.9 mn in 2008 down from GBP 6.9 mn 2007. The bank put the reduction down primarily to growth in fee and commission income.

The customer numbers increased by 10 % to over 47,000 and deposits increased by 15 % GBP to 158 mn.

Two new major products were launched, an Islamic home finance and a 60-day notice savings account, which was launched in December 2008.

Unicorn Bank to make further investment of USD 12.9 mn in Dawood Islamic Bank

Dawood Islamic Bank Limited has received Rs. 1 billion (USD 12.9 mn) investment from Unicorn Investment Bank Limited, based in Bahrain , this was stated in a statement issued from Bank’s headoffice in Karachi. Dawood Islamic Bank launched in 2007 with an initial paid-up capital of Rs. 3 billion. The Dawood Islamic bank has a branch network of 21 branches spread over the major cities of Pakistan , including Karachi , Lahore , Islamabad , Faisalabad , Multan , Sialkot , Iqbalabad and Joharabad.

Unicorn already had a 22.2 % equity stake in Dawood Islamic Bank prior to the current investment. With the new investment the equity of Unicorn Investment Bank, in Dawood Islamic Bank has increased to 37% percent

Aamir Khan is Managing Director and Head Global Private Equity of Unicorn Investment Bank and a founder Director of Dawood Islamic Bank

Said Rafique Dawood is Chairman Dawood Islamic Bank.

KFH inaugurates research website

The research firm of Kuwait Finance House, KFH Research Ltd.,inaugurated a dedicated portal to be found at:

http://www.kfhresearch.net

Ratings On Dubai-Based Government-Related Entities Lowered On Deteriorating Economic

Press Release

Dial-in Details for 11AM GMT/3PM Dubai Teleconference To Discuss Rating Actions Below

DUBAI, March 17, 2009--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today said it had lowered its ratings on six Dubai-based government-related entities (GREs) by one notch. The 'A+' ratings on DIFC Investments LLC, DP World Ltd., Jebel Ali Free Zone (FZE), and JAFZ Sukuk Ltd. were lowered to 'A', and the 'A-1' short-term ratings were affirmed. The 'A/A-1' ratings on Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority were lowered to 'A-/A-2', while the 'A+' long-term rating on Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group LLC (DHCOG) was also lowered to 'A'. The outlook on all entities remains negative. (A separate research update for each of the entities will follow.)

Thee ratings on the GREs reflect both their individual stand-alone credit profiles and our expectation that the United Arab Emirates (UAE; unrated) federal government, backed by its largest constituent, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (AA/Stable/A-1+), will continue to provide, as and when the need arises, financial support to the Dubai government, which owns the rated GREs.

Four Dubai-Based Banks Long-Term Ratings Placed On CreditWatch Negative On Deteriorating Operating Environment

PARIS (Standard & Poor's) March 17, 2009--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it has placed its long-term counterparty credit ratings on four Dubai-based banks, namely Emirates Bank International PJSC (EBI), National Bank of Dubai (NBD), Mashreqbank, and Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) on CreditWatch with negative implications (see ratings list below). The 'A-1' short-term ratings on EBI, NBD, and Mashreqbank were also put on CreditWatch with negative implications, while the 'A-2' short-term rating on DIB was affirmed. This action reflects our growing concerns regarding the impact on the banking sector of the economic downturn in Dubai.

UNEP FI Insurance Working Group conducts first-of-a-kind global survey on ESG factors and insurance

The UNEP FI Insurance Working Group, supported by leading academic institutions from the United States and Europe, is conducting a landmark global survey on the understanding and integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in insurance underwriting and product development. The nature and scope of this survey makes it the first of its kind.

The core objectives are to:

- Assess the understanding and integration of ESG factors in insurance underwriting and product development globally
- Assess the financial materiality of ESG factors in insurance underwriting and product development
- Provide recommendations for sustainable insurance underwriting
- Provide research input for potential projects on other core insurance processes (e.g. investment, claims management, and sales & marketing)
- Establish a solid business case for the development of "Principles for Sustainable Insurance"

Visit http://www.unepfi.org/events/2009/survey to find out more and participate.

Bahrain looking to Islamic instruments to help finance possible budget deficitis

Bahrain is looking at issuing bonds and treasury bills, likely including Islamic securities, to help finance possible budget deficits according to a report in The Peninsula.

Noor Islamic Finance Co. selects iMAL for Islamic Banking

Kuwait-based banking software solutions provider Path Solutions said it has signed an agreement with Noor Islamic Finance Co. in Abu Dhabi for the provision of iMAL for their start-up operations.

The solution is the latest version of the widely-implemented AAOIFI-certified banking solution from Path. It will help Noor Islamic Finance to gain competitive advantage by providing a broad range of innovative Islamic services to its customers.

Malta as Centre of Islamic finance

The Malta Institute of Management (MIM) met up with Opposition Leader Dr Joseph Muscat, to present a copy of Dr Robert Attard’s Principles of Maltese Taxation.

Hon Dr Muscat said that Malta has a big opportunity ahead of it. MIM has spearheaded the discussion in Islamic Finance in Malta and the Labour Party has supported it throughout. Reuben Buttigieg explained how Malta can be marketed as an Islamic Finance centre through the direct intervention of the government through the issuance of Sukuk.

BBK looking for other acquisitions after merger with Shamil Bank was cancelled

Frederik Richter reported on 15 March based on Reuters that Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (BBK) is looking for opportunities to acquire after the planned merger with rival Shamil Bank was put on hold.

BBK recently created its fully-owned Islamic investment bank Capinnova. BBK has a market capitalization of about $1.04 billion and a market share of 15-20 percent in the Bahraini retail market, according to its own estimates. (Reuters)

India: Reliance Capital launches 'Imaan Investment Plan'

In order to attract Muslim investors to stock markets, Reliance Capital Services has launched in Kanpur the 'Imaan Investment Plan'.

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