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#Algeria warily edges towards Islamic finance as energy income dives

Algeria is edging slowly towards Islamic banking services to suit more religiously conservative investors. Finance Minister Hadji Baba Ammi has already announced plans for the country's first local bond. Now six state-run banks plan to start Islamic financial services by the end of the year or in early 2018 and a national sharia board that would oversee Islamic banking is also planned by the end of 2017. Algeria's Islamic finance plan still faces huge barriers. It lacks a legal framework and technical expertise. Algeria is far behind North African neighbours Morocco and Tunisia, which have started to develop legislation for Islamic finance. The country is targetting domestic savers rather than foreign investors. Many local people distrust the state-owned banks and keep large sums at home in Algerian and foreign currency.

Bids for record-breaking #Saudi debut #sukuk cross $33bln

Saudi Arabia saw bids of $33 billion (Dh121.11 billion) for its record-breaking debut sukuk issue. The issue size of the sukuk could likely be $8 billion, spread across $4 billion each for the 5 year and 10 year tranche. The sukuk was priced at 100 basis points over mid-swaps for the 5-year tranche, and 145 basis points over mid-swaps for the longer dated issue. Anita Yadav, Senior Director of Global markets and treasury at Emirates NBD, said the yield on Saudi sukuk is likely to be attractive on relative value basis, which would appeal to the yield hungry international investor. Analysts expect larger institutions like Aramco or SABIC to take advantage and come the market. On an yearly basis, Emirates NBD expects $20 billion worth of issuance from Saudi Arabia including issues from the government, and state-run enterprises, banks and corporates.

#Kenya aims to become the next global center of Islamic finance

East Africa’s biggest economy is positioning itself to become a regional hub for Islamic banking. Kenyan finance minister Henry Rotich said on March 30 that the government would propose amendments to the financial laws and issue new regulations to facilitate a Sharia-compliant retirement scheme. It will also amend the public finance management act to provide for the issuance of sukuk. In the past, Kenyan regulators found it hard to issue new regulations, as the government was battling the jihadist fundamentalist group al-Shabaab. Regulatory agencies say Kenya is now ready to allow Islamic finance and banking to thrive. In fact, Kenya is already a regional leader in Islamic banking. The country has two fully-operating Islamic banks. There’s also one takaful Islamic insurance company, a sharia-compliant mutual fund and two cooperatives. In December, Kenya joined the Islamic Financial Services Board based in Malaysia.

#Saudi Arabia's order books at about $25 billion for debut dollar #sukuk - sources

The order books for Saudi Arabia's debut U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk have reached about $25 billion. The dual-tranche sukuk is set to be the largest ever Islamic bond, beating a $4 billion sukuk issued by Qatar in 2012. The two tranches have maturities of five and ten years. The initial price guidance put the senior unsecured Islamic bonds in the 115 bps over mid-swaps area for the five-year tranche and 155 bps over mid-swaps area for the 10-year tranche.

#Takaful industry reports double-digit growth in the #GCC

According to the Global Takaful Report 2017, the Takaful industry has grown in double digits across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in recent years. Between 2012 and 2015 the GCC markets grew by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%. While South East Asia reported a negative growth of 4% due to currency depreciation, Africa reported a CAGR of 19% during the same period. According to Safder Jaffer, Consulting Actuary at Milliman, Saudi Arabia is the largest Takaful market with a gross written contribution (GWC) of $9.7 billion (Dh35.62 billion) in 2015. The Saudi market is dominated by general insurance with limited life insurance business. GCC markets continue to dominate general takaful whereas South East Asia continues to dominate life takaful. In the GCC, family takaful achieved a record growth of 34% in 2015. Global takaful GWC is estimated at $14.9 billion as at the close of 2015. There is strong growth in overall global takaful market in the range of 13 to 14% each year. The split of the family and general takaful market in 2015 is approximately 17% and 83% respectively.

75 academics face 15 years in jail each for depositing money into Bank Asya

77 academics from the Abant Izzet Baysal University (AIBU) face between 7.5 years and 15 years in jail on accusation of membership to a terrorist organization. 75 academics are sentenced to 15 years in prison, while the remaining two to 22 years. The prosecutor listed among evidence for terror charge the academics’ previous transactions within Bank Asya. The Turkish government closed down the Islamic lender as part of its crackdown against the Gulen movement. The government also pinned the blame for July 15 on the movement. The accused academics have withdrawn TL 2 million from other banks to deposit into Bank Asya since late 2013 when the bank was struggling. The prosecutor underscored that some academics transferred money from spouses’ accounts to another account in Bank Asya so that they could benefit from state insurance in case the bank faces closure.

The government initiates a #coup at #Bangladesh’s biggest bank

On the 5th of January military intelligence operatives phoned the chairman, a vice-chairman and the managing director of Islami Bank Bangladesh and brought them to the agency’s headquarters in Dhaka. A few hours later the bank’s board selected their replacements. Islami Bank has been of interest to the government for its association with the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s biggest Islamist party. In recent months, companies with ties to S Alam Group have built stakes in the bank, although the group denies any role in this. The new chairman, Arastoo Khan, declined to comment on the changes at the bank. The shareholders from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were kept in the dark about the boardroom coup and complained bitterly about it. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) questioned the rationale behind the changes and pointed out that there was no proper recruitment process. The Bangladeshi government has assured foreign shareholders that it will not let politicians loot the bank.

SECP easing #Sukuk rules to facilitate Islamic finance

The Securities and Exchange Commission of #Pakistan (SECP) announced that it was relaxing regulations for Sukuk issuance in order to develop the Shariah-compliant market. The regulator said the SECP was amending the 2015 Issue of Sukuk Regulations to facilitate the issuers, reduce the cost of issue and ease the regulatory burden. The SECP has invited public opinion on the proposed amendments before their finalisation. The commission has also advised the PSX to come up with proposals for reducing the cost of market-maker for Sukuk issuance, rationalising the minimum size of public offer portion to reduce the cost of issue and organising a seminar with potential issuers to widen awareness. According to the SECP, the Sukuk market has been performing below potential in Pakistan. While the demand is substantial, supply remains short.

Positive outlook for Islamic #REITs in the region

With the continuous growth of Islamic banking in the GCC, products such as Islamic Real Estate Investment Trusts (I-REITs) have started to emerge. Al Mahrab Tower REIT was the first private I-REIT in Kuwait in 2007. Following that, Dubai launched its first I-REIT (Emirates REIT) in 2010 and Bahrain listed its first public I-REIT (Eskan REIT) in 2017. Emirates NBD has also recently listed ENBD REIT and due to strong demand the offer was oversubscribed. Firms responded to this growing demand, including IdealRatings, which launched its first Sharia-compliant REIT index in 2015. While the future of I-REITs may seem positive, there are many challenges that lie ahead. It is important for asset management firms to devise efficient and logical I-REIT investment methodologies. This needs to be supplemented by sound ethical principles to ensure the sustainable growth of I-REITs in the region.

Baker McKenzie wins major #litigation case for Dubai Islamic Bank

Global law firm Baker McKenzie has successfully acted for Dubai Islamic Bank in its defence of a $2 billion claim brought against it in the English Commercial Court. The claim was brought by Plantation Holdings, a holding company owned by an Argentinian-resident property developer. The allegation was breach of contract related to plot of land on the outskirts of Dubai, which Plantation had planned to develop into a high-end luxury lifestyle and equestrian complex. The Bank took security over the project as part of the restructuring of a $500 million debt owed to it as a result of a complex receivables financing fraud. The case was heard in an eight week trial, with evidence from witnesses from seven jurisdictions. The court ruled that Plantation's principal director had made up evidence and that another of Plantation's witnesses had manufactured documents, Plantation has been ordered to pay 70% of the Bank's costs on the indemnity basis. The nature of the case also resulted in examining the volatility of the Dubai property market and the functionality of its property registration system, as well as the Dubai authorities' approach to financial misconduct.

#Malaysia Remains Biggest #Sukuk Market as Record Number of Global Corporates Tap Sukuk

Global sukuk market resumed positive strides in 2016 after three years of consecutive decline. The sukuk market also witnessed an important shift where corporate issuers dominated the market in 2016 with USD47.3 billion volume of issuance, representing a share of 63.2%. This is in contrast to historical trends where issuance was driven largely by sovereigns. Overall, sukuk issuer profile remained similar to historical trends. Malaysia continued to be the main driver for sukuk issuance, commanding a market share of 46.4% of total issuances, followed by Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), accounting for 9.9% and 9.0% share. Elsewhere, Turkey recorded a notable rise in sukuk issuance at USD4.1 billion for the year, supported by a number sovereign issuances with maturity ranging from one to five years. The year 2016 also witnessed issuances from Senegal, Jordan, Ivory Coast and Kuwait.

MAVCAP set to hit $50m first close for Meranti Fund, Elixir-partnered Islamic #Fund

Malaysia Venture Capital Management (MAVCAP) plans to announce a $50 million first close for two of its funds that will be launched this year, Asean Growth Fund and Global Islamic Economy Fund. The combined size of the two vehicles will be about $450 million. MAVCAP CEO Jamaludin Bujang said the Asean Growth Fund is $200 million vehicle, which is jointly launched with China-based Gobi Partners. This vehicle will be termed Meranti and will focus on later stage funding for technology related companies in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. In fact, MAVCAP is weighing options for the Islamic fund that is looking to invest in Shariah compliant and Halal sectors. Apart from the Asean Growth Fund and the Islamic fund, MAVCAP is also working on a clean-tech fund that will invest in companies that help reduce environmental stress. Bujang said the clean-tech fund could have a targeted corpus of anywhere between $50-$100 million.

#Indonesia's GDP Growth Curtailed by High Non-Performing Loan Ratio

Indonesian banks are expected to be cautious boosting credit disbursement because the non-performing loan (NPL) ratio is currently high with the gross NPL ratio hovering above 3% since mid-2016. Banks are now more selective in terms of credit disbursement, but this undermines the pace of the nation's macroeconomic growth. Although Indonesia managed to end the five-year economic slowdown in 2016, it is still far away from Indonesian President Joko Widodo's ambitious 7% GDP growth pledge. In fact, he revised his projection for Indonesia's 2018 GDP growth to 5.6% from a previous projection of a 5.4 - 6.1%. Thus, it should basically be impossible to see a 7% growth rate by 2017.

Sharia finance a growing market but NZ banks not acting yet

Sonny Bill Williams could find his rugby career curtailed if he refuses to support any sponsorship that runs contrary to his Islamic religion. Williams covered the BNZ logo on his collar in his first game for the Blues. Williams has lodged a conscientious objection in his contract to finance companies, banks, alcohol companies, tobacco companies and gambling companies. According to Victoria University religious studies professor Paul Morris, the rugby player's conscientious objection was valid if cleared with the sponsor and the management of the team. Islamic Women's Council spokeswoman Anjum Rahman said Williams was making a statement and it was a valid choice. New Zealand Bankers' Association CEO Karen Scott-Howman said banks were constantly responding to customer preferences. However, the banks do not see the demand for Sharia-compliant banking in New Zealand.

Moody's: Shariah-compliant #investment accounts at #Malaysian banks to continue growing

According to Moody's Investors Service, the growth of shariah-compliant investment accounts at Malaysian banks will remain strong over the next three to five years. Moody's Vice President, Simon Chen, said Malaysian banks have strong incentives to promote the growth of such investment accounts because they provide capital benefits. He added that concerns also exist over the untested state of loss-sharing mechanisms in the accounts. The robust growth of shariah-compliant investment accounts in Malaysia began in July 2015 following the implementation of the Islamic Financial Services Act 2013. By February 2017, these accounts had grown to RM74.2 billion, or 13%, of total banking system liabilities. On the question of risk, Moody's said that a significant loss event to test the resilience of this regime has yet to occur.

#Saudi readies debut dollar #sukuk with US risk disclosure

Saudi Arabia has included a disclosure on credit risk retention requirements in the prospectus of a debut dollar sukuk which is expected to issue this week and could total $10 billion. The disclosure to comply with the US Dodd-Frank Act has not been made for other sovereign sukuk issues. The US retention rule was set to align the interests of issuers of asset backed securities (ABS) with those of ABS investors by asking the sponsor of an ABS securitisation. Sukuk are generally asset-based, but in order to comply with the rules, Saudi Arabia will purchase at least 5% of the aggregate principal amount of each tranche it issues. Saudi Arabia began meeting investors on Sunday ahead of the deal, the second debt sale by the kingdom, which made its debut in the international debt markets last year with a record $17.5 billion bond.

Normes Charaïques #AAOIFI

La traduction en langue française de l’ensemble des standards de l’AAOIFI a été achevée. La première édition officielle en français des Normes Charaïques pour les institutions financières islamiques sera présentée le 12 avril 2017 à l’ouverture de la 15ème conférence annuelle de l’AAOIFI à Manama, Bahrain. Cette démarche s’inscrit dans le cadre des efforts de l’AAOIFI pour la diffusion de ses Shari’ah Standards, qui sont devenus la principale compilation de jugements de Fiqh contemporain dans le domaine de Fiqh al Mouamalat au niveau mondial. Eu égard à la taille des communautés francophones dans le monde, l’AAOIFI a entrepris de faire traduire ses Shari’ah Standards en français selon une méthodologie rigoureuse pour assurer une traduction une traduction fiable comportant plusieurs niveaux de révision, d’édition et d’assurance qualité.

Mizuho opens $300m Islamic #credit facility to Jeddah group

Mizuho Bank #Malaysia opened a $300 million credit facility to the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The two-year deal will finance projects in the member countries of ICD. According to ICD Chief Executive Khaled Al Aboodi, the $300 million accounts for 24% of funding programs earmarked by ICD in 2017. He added that funds could be disbursed for hospitals in Gambia, manufacturing facilities in Tajikistan or trade finance in Maldives. For Mizuho Bank Malaysia, the deal marks its first cross-border bilateral Islamic facility based on the concept of Murabahah. The bank's deputy CEO, Shinichi Nishiyama, said lending to ICD will expose Mizuho Bank Malaysia indirectly to the markets in Islamic countries and they are looking forward to a long-term partnership with ICD.

Sovereign plans #sukuk blockbuster

Saudi Arabia is expected to raise several billion US dollar sukuk across five and 10-year tranches. The notes will be in a hybrid mudaraba-murahaba format, a structure in essence already trialled by Saudi Aramco for a riyal-denominated sukuk. The kingdom is rated A1 by Moody's and A+ by Fitch. The banks running the deal are BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan and NCB Capital. The national oil company Saudi Aramco raised SR11.25bn riyals in order to diversify its revenues impacted by low international oil prices. The floating rate local currency sukuk has a seven-year maturity and offers 25bp over the six-month Saudi Arabian Interbank Offered Rate.

#Kuwait's Warba Bank boosts its #realestate investments portfolio & acquires a facility of KIA Motors in #UK

Warba Bank has recently purchased a newly constructed UK vehicle imports-exports facility strategically located next to Immingham port. The property is leased to KIA Motors UK for unbreakable lease term of 20 years. The facility has a capacity of over 15,550 cars and totalling 86.68 acres (35.08 hectares) of land. In addition, the site also includes a warehouse space of 63,515 ft.² (5,901 m²), facilitating distribution, refurbishment, valet, inspection, refuelling, offices and gatehouses. The site receives on average c.1,200 vehicles a week. KIA anticipate 100,000 UK car sales target by 2020. Warba Bank’s CEO, Shaheen Hamed Al Ghanem, said this acquisition was one of the best risks mitigated real estate investment of the bank, generating a steady and secured return from unbreakable long lease. He elaborated that the investment plan for 2017 is highly ambitious and the bank is looking for more international real estate investment opportunities in USA, UK and other continental European countries.

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