#Bahrain Counts on #Fintech, #Saudi Ties to Revive Indebted Economy

Bahrain FinTech Bay is part of the kingdom's drive to revive its reputation as the Middle East's top banking and business center. After the plunge of oil prices in 2014, state revenues fell, credit ratings fell and debt soared. Large debts still pose a risk as interest rates rise, but Bahrain is starting to see initial signs of recovery. PayTabs, a Saudi company specializing in online payment solutions, will set up a base in Bahrain FinTech Bay in May. Tap Payments, a mobile payment company founded in Kuwait, moved to Fintech Bay last month. CEO Ali Abulhasan said Bahrain had regulatory advantages when compared to other Gulf Cooperation Countries. Foreign investment from 71 companies was $733 million last year, up from $281 million and 40 companies in 2016. This contributed to an average annual GDP growth of more than 3.5%. Central bank governor Rasheed Mohammed al-Maraj said that growth could accelerate further, as strong oil prices have bounced to around $65 a barrel from below $50 in mid-2017.

#Kuwait Finance House to split shareholding of Turkish asset manager

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) will divide the ownership structure of its Turkish asset management firm between local and Kuwaiti units, as the Islamic lender continues to build on its Turkey franchise. KT Asset Management will transfer 5 million shares representing a 50% stake to KFH Capital. Both Kuveyt Turk and KFH Capital are subsidiaries of KFH. KFH Capital is the main investment arm of KFH, which has restructured activities in recent years to streamline operations and focus on growth markets such as Turkey.

Sharjah Govt issues $1b #sukuk

The Government of Sharjah has issued a $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) dollar sukuk on a 10 year maturity. The lead arrangers for the issue were Sharjah Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered. Walid Al Sayegh, Director-General of Sharjah Finance Department, pointed out that the timing behind the issuance makes this the first sovereign sukuk issued in 2018 in the region. It is also the largest sukuk issuance by the government of Sharjah, which previously carried out two issuances. Al Sayegh said that the revenue from these sukuk would be used for infrastructure projects, as well as urban and financial development of Sharjah.

Islamic #fintech adoption is set to increase

According to experts, the adoption of Islamic fintech will soon see a global increase as nations focus on financial inclusion across emerging economies. At the 11th edition of Innovation Arabia, Mohamed Roushdy, founder of Fintech Bazaar, revealed that traditional fintech has been existing for long as a service provider supporting financial services, but not customers. When it comes to fintech adoption today, adoption is highest in Asia in emerging economies. China leads the way with 69% adoption, followed by India at 52%. In terms of financial inclusion, Roushdy said the situation looks rather bleak across many Muslim nations. According to the Global Findex Database, 71% of Muslims have no bank account. Professor Nabil Baydoun, vice-chancellor at Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), said the importance of the Islamic economy is seen as a vital resource and a contributing factor in the transition to the post-oil economy. The 11th edition of the event is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

QIB launches new Investor Relations App

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has launched an Investor Relations app for Android and iOS smartphones. The QIB IR App keeps the investors updated on the latest financial developments related to share prices, stock performance, bank news, financial results and key financial reports. It includes interactive financial screens enabling investors to see QIB’s historical share price and results while providing comparison with peers. As QIB’s investors are global, the app supports 17 languages and enables the display of share prices in different currencies as well. QIB cooperated with Euroland, a leading fintech company, to launch the app and update the information available on the website. All interested parties can download the QIB IR app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store and visit the Investor Relations (IR) section on QIB’s website.

A.M. Best Affirms Credit Ratings of #Qatar Islamic #Insurance Company Q.S.C.

A.M. Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “bbb+” of Qatar Islamic Insurance Company (QIIC). The outlook of these Credit Ratings is stable. QIIC adopts a hybrid takaful model, whereby the shareholders’ fund (SHF) charges the policyholders’ fund (PHF) a Wakala fee based on gross written contributions (GWC) and a Muderaba fee based on investment income. QIIC has a track record of strong operating and technical profitability, highlighted by a five-year average combined ratio of 79% that has remained very stable over recent years. Although the company is concentrated to its domestic market of Qatar, the company maintains a niche market position as an established provider of Shari’a compliant products.

Dubai launches #incubator to boost ethical Islamic start-up firms

Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) has announced the launch of Goodforce Labs, a startup incubator focused on supporting ethical startups in the fields of Islamic economy and Halal industries. Goodforce Labs will select a group of startups and small and medium enterprises and support them towards a $50 million in annual revenues and measurable social impact. Most Islamic economy startups face many problems and struggle to grow and survive. A number of startups have joined the incubator like Growmada, an e-platform for selling handicrafts from developing countries, Waqf 2.0, a cloud-based platform for managing Awqaf, Zileej, a company specializing in disciplined entertainment products and Rabia Z, which designs modest women’s clothing.

Saudi Dar Al Arkan Real Estate hires banks ahead of 5-year dollar #sukuk deal

Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development has mandated banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of a planned U.S. dollar five-year sukuk offering. If the deal goes ahead, Dar Al Arkan will be the first Saudi company to issue an international bond this year. The banks mandated are Alkhair Capital, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, Goldman Sachs International, Nomura, Noor Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, who will act as joint bookrunners of the deal.

Emirates to meet investors ahead of possible #sukuk issuance

Emirates airline mandated local and international banks to arrange a global investor roadshow ahead of a possible sukuk issuance. The carrier mandated Citi and Standard Chartered Bank as global coordinators and joint lead managers, alongside BNP Paribas, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, and Noor Bank as joint lead managers. Proceeds from the issuance will be used for general corporate purposes. Emirates did not disclose the size of the possible sukuk, but said it will be of benchmark size. The company has tapped the debt capital markets with four issuances since 2011 raising over $3.65 billion, over 50% of which has been from sukuk. The most recent aircraft order was for 36 Airbus A380s worth $16 billion and was made in late January. Delivery of the aircraft will begin in 2020.

#Saudi crown prince seeks solution to banks' $2.6 billion Islamic tax row: sources

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has directed the government to resolve a dispute with banks facing higher Islamic tax liabilities. The General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT) is demanding tax for years going back as far as 2002. Banks are contesting the extra payments, which are estimated at around 9.8 billion riyals ($2.6 billion) across 11 of the kingdom’s 12 listed banks. Although Saudi banks and other firms generally do not pay corporate tax, they are subject to zakat, a 2.5% levy on each bank’s net worth. Lenders and the authorities have been at loggerheads over the amount of zakat they pay for more than a decade. The dispute has captured more attention recently as the kingdom seeks to attract billions of dollars of foreign investment from global equity indexes. Bankers say the way the tax is calculated is opaque and the heavy financial demands on banks threaten the stability of the banking sector and capital markets.

Emirates Islamic Bank supports Rental Disputes Center initiatives

The Rental Disputes Center (RDC) has received a generous donation of AED 500,000 from Emirates Islamic Bank to support insolvent tenants in rental claims disputes. The RDC has already set up the "Yad Al Khair Committee" to study the cases that require support from the donation. Awatif Al Harmoodi, General Manager of Operational Quality & Processes at Emirates Islamic Bank, said Emirates Islamic Bank is keen to expand its corporate social responsibility strategy to cover all segments of the UAE and will continue to cooperate with the RDC.

#Saudi will issue #sukuk as soon as market conditions allow-DMO chief

Saudi Arabia is committed to the sukuk market and will issue Islamic bonds as soon as market conditions allow. Fahad al-Saif, president of Saudi Arabia’s debt management office (DMO) said Saudi Arabia had a ratio of 65% to 35% for local to international issuance, plus or minus 10%. He added that the DMO aimed to develop the local market but not to crowd out the banks. Saudi Arabia started issuing debt in the international markets in 2016 when it issued $39 billion in bonds, including a $9 billion sukuk. Domestically, the government has raised a total of over 70 billion riyals ($18.67 billion) through monthly local currency sukuk issues. The kingdom has recently agreed the refinancing, extension and upsizing of a $10 billion loan it had raised in 2016. The loan has now been increased to $16 billion. Furthermore, a new dollar bond sale is expected over the coming weeks.

GFH joins as a founding partner in #Bahrain’s #fintech hub

GFH Financial Group said its recent partnership with Bahrain Fintech Bay (BFB) as a founding partner will drive innovation and create opportunities for growth. The partnership reflects GFH’s strategy to strengthen the integration of Fintech in the region. According to GFH Financial Group's CEO Hisham Alrayes, GFH provides new entrants access to a sophisticated network and gives advice on how to reach regional and international capital and markets.

Al Hilal Global #Sukuk Fund delivers 3.93% dividend

Al Hilal Bank has announced the dividend payout of the Al Hilal Global Sukuk Fund. The Fund, which was launched in March 2012, distributed a 3.93% dividend to all registered unit holders. Al Hilal Bank CEO Alex Coelho said the Fund had registered excellent cumulative total returns since its inception in 2012. Al Hilal Bank currently offers 3 open-ended mutual funds inclusive of the Global Sukuk Fund. In 2017, Al Hilal Global Sukuk Fund was awarded the title "Best Fund over 3 years", while the GCC Equity Fund received the "Best Islamic Fund" award in 2013 and 2014. The bank plans to continue launching investment products as part of its ongoing efforts to create value and increase diversification for its clients.

#Saudi Arabia expands $10b loan #refinancing to $16b, adds Islamic tranche

Saudi Arabia is expanding the refinancing of a $10 billion international loan to raise $16 billion. The kingdom is introducing a significant Islamic tranche to the transaction, supporting Saudi Arabia’s goal of becoming the leading centre for Islamic finance. A $16 billion facility would be one of the largest syndicated loans ever extended in emerging markets. The kingdom raised the original $10 billion loan from 14 core banks in 2016, in what was its first jumbo transaction after a slump in international oil prices. A further dollar debt issuance is also planned, which could be marketed over the next few weeks.

New Islamic start-up #incubator launched in Dubai

Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) has partnered with Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre and venture firm Technolera to launch a new start-up incubator. Goodforce Labs is launched to help Islamic small and medium enterprises to reach $50m in annual revenues and a measurable social impact. It will help start-ups to start, manage and develop their businesses while providing support in areas including design, marketing, operations management and technology. DAFZA said there are more than 2,500 companies in the ethical Islamic lifestyle market but many struggle to grow and survive. Start-ups that have signed up to the incubator so far include handicraft e-commerce platform Growmada, cloud-based charitable endowment manager Waqf 2.0, disciplined entertainment product specialist Zileej and modest women’s clothing firm Rabia Z. Financial literary firm iWealth and halal food e-learning platform Smart Halal are among the other entrants.

#Saudi prepares to auction detained billionaire’s property

Saudi authorities are preparing to auction billions of dollars of real estate and cars belonging to billionaire Maan al-Sanea. This is the latest signal that Saudi Arabia is serious about holding its elites to account. In an anti-corruption crackdown last November, authorities detained several senior officials on charges of alleged graft. The al-Sanea case is separate from the main anti-graft campaign. The businessman was detained for unpaid debt dating back to 2009 when his company, Saad Group, defaulted on debts. Creditors have spent the past nine years pursuing Saad for debt that some estimate to be between 40 billion riyals ($10.67 billion) and 60 billion riyals. Al-Sanea's real estate in Khobar was valued at around 4.4 billion riyals. Authorities are preparing an auction to sell his vehicles, equipment, a large quantity of building materials and some property before the month of Ramadan.

Abu Dhabi Global Market welcomes 3rd Reglab cohort applications with SME focus

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) welcomes applications for the third cohort of its Regulatory Laboratory (Reglab) with special focus on the small-medium enterprise (SME) sector. ADGM therefore encourages all FinTech and RegTech companies, in particular those with a SME focus, to apply and be part of its RegLab. This includes technology startups which offer tools to both institutions and SMEs alike. The application period will close on 10 May 2018.

RegLab allows participants to explore and develop innovative solutions in a risk-appropriate and cost-effective environment. Moreover, participants will have access to a digital sandbox service provided by Temenos that enables them to integrate their solutions with banking data and functionality.

For further details of the ADGM RegLab programme, please visit www.fintech.adgm.com or contact fintech@adgm.com.

Dar Al Arkan meets bond investors for non-deal roadshow

Saudi Arabian real estate developer Dar Al Arkan met fixed income investors last week for a non-deal roadshow. The aim of the meeting was to update investors on the company’s business, so no concrete bond issue plan was discussed. The roadshow was held last week in Dubai and arranged by Emirates NBD. Dar Al Arkan issued $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) of sukuk last April with a profit rate of 6.875% per annum. It also has $450 million of sukuk due in June this year, $400 million of sukuk due in 2019 and a further $500 million of sukuk, those issued last year, maturing in 2022.

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