GCC

#Kuwait bank in #merger talks to create $92bn Islamic lender

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) is seeking to hold talks with Bahrain's Ahli United Bank (AUB) for a potential merger. This would create an Islamic lender with about $92 billion of assets, six months after negotiations broke down. KFH sent a letter inviting Ahli United to sign a memorandum of understanding and a non-disclosure agreement to start valuation studies. The deal may provide a boost to debt-laden Bahrain, as the country struggles to cope with lower oil prices. According to Joice Mathew, the head of equity research at United Securities, the integration of business could be challenging because of the geographical dispersion of their assets and combination of Islamic and conventional banking.

New Saudi bankruptcy law 'tries to find balance' between investor and creditor interest

Saudi Arabia’s new bankruptcy law will come into effect in late August and aims to attract foreign and domestic investment in private businesses. The new law is designed to outline bankruptcy proceedings and will offer protection to creditors and embattled companies seeking to conduct their affairs without fear of asset seizure. According to lawyer Dario Najm, an associate in Ahmad bin Hezeem & Associates, the new law allows indebted corporations to maintain their operations while gradually settling their debts. Creditors and debtors will enter into agreements on debt payment schedules. When implemented, the law will be the sole regulation covering bankruptcy, effectively replacing previous rules passed in 1996.

KIB closing its $250 mln #Murabaha

Kuwait International Bank (KIB) closed a $250 million 3-year syndicated Murabaha financing facility. The financing was concluded with a consortium of international and local banks that includes Standard Chartered Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, National Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait Finance House and Boubyan Bank. The ceremony to mark the occasion was attended by KIB's top management led by Mohamed Said El Saka, Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Acting CEO. He said that this new facility will help KIB continue pursuing its strategic objectives to strengthen the Bank’s position as a leading Islamic bank in Kuwait.

Gulf banking transparency on the rise - study

Non-credit ratings agency Sigma Ratings found that Gulf countries outperform many Latin American and European countries in transparency and compliance. Among the most transparent banks in the region are Emirates Islamic Bank, Al Hilal Bank, the National Bank of RAK, Sharjah Islamic Bank, and the Arab Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade. According to Sigma Ratings CEO Stuart Jones, non-credit risk ratings were badly needed on factors like governance, compliance and financial crime risks. Jones added that specifically the GCC countries seem to be over-performing in the region, and there is lot of positive movement with regards to these countries.

ADIB launches 100% capital protected green notes

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) launched a 100% capital protected smart and green energy equities basket note. The investment note, which matures in 12 months, is open for subscription until July 28, with a 31% participation rate in the upside positive performance. According to Saif Al Keem, Head of Wealth Management & Priority Banking at ADIB, this new note from ADIB focuses on equities that are driving investments in clean technology and manufacturing smart energy on a global scale. There is a growing demand for solutions which can capture and store energy generated from wind and solar power, which provides significant opportunities for the manufacturers of efficient battery technology.

Blockchain platform-as-a-service for Islamic finance launched

Blockchain experts ArabianChain Technology and Curiositas will offer blockchain-based smart contracts and legal automation for Islamic finance products. The 'Wethaq' platform is targeting Islamic capital markets, acting as a platform-as-a-service for financial institutions, fundraisers and investors to use in the trading of sukuk products. Wethaq is expected to see issuance of its first Smart Ijara in the first half of 2019. The joint venture will combine Curiositas' legal automation and financial engineering expertise with ArabianChain's Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Protocol and smart contracts. According to Dimitrios Vourakis, Managing Director of Curiositas, Wethaq separates the essential structuring services provided by financial institutions from additional services such as custodianship and payments, and offers the latter on its automated platform.

#Saudi securities regulator awards first two #fintech licences

Saudi Arabia's securities regulator approved its first two financial technology licences on Tuesday. The Capital Market Authority (CMA) approved licences allowing Manafa Capital and Scopeer to offer crowdfunding investment services on a trial basis. Individual investors will use electronic platforms operated by the companies to fund small and medium-sized enterprises in exchange for shares in those enterprises. The CMA said it would receive applications for more fintech licences later this year. The Saudi central bank has also thrown its weight behind fintech, as it signed a deal with U.S.-based Ripple in February this year.

#Qatari banks lead Gulf states in real estate lending despite blockade: report

Qatari banks lead the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members states in real estate lending despite the economic blockade. Qatar disbursed 3.36 billion U.S. dollars of incremental credit in the first quarter of this year. Saudi Arabian banks ranked second, as they disbursed 1.47 billion dollars of incremental credit. Residential-related transactions contributed to 48% of the total transactions and accounted for 50.8% of the transaction volumes in the first quarter. On Sunday, Fitch Ratings has upgraded the outlooks of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) to 'stable'. The rating showed that Qatar was able to overcome the economic and trade blockade imposed on it by the Saudi-led bloc since last year.

ADIB becomes first bank to join UAEIIC

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has joined the UAE International Investors Council (UAEIIC), making it the first bank in the UAE to become a member in the council. ADIB's acting CEO Khamis Buharoon said his bank was committed to the development of Emirati investments, which are critical to economic diversification and the UAE’s global economic competitiveness. The council provides a link between investors, governmental and semi-governmental entities to streamline the investment process. It also serves as a pillar for ensuring the protection of UAE capital abroad through advice, guidance, and logistic support.

Fitch upgrades Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) rating to stable and affirmed 'A' rating

Fitch Ratings has upgraded Qatar Islamic Bank’s (QIB) outlook to 'stable'. The move reflects Fitch's view that Qatar has successfully managed the fallout from last year's rupture of trade, financial and diplomatic relations. Public sector liquidity injections have stabilised the banking sector and stemmed the outflow of non-domestic funding. The government has demonstrated a strong commitment to its banks and key public sector companies. Earlier this year, Fitch also affirmed QIB’s Long Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'A'. These ratings of QIB reflect its well-established franchise in Qatar, with a market share of about 11% of total banking system assets at end-2017.

MSM releases new Shari’ah-compliant banks and #Takaful firms

Muscat Securities Market (MSM) has announced a list of Shari’ah-compliant companies for the first quarter of 2018. Acording to ONA, these firms business and financial behaviour conformed to the requirements of Islamic Shari’ah according to the rules approved by the Accounting and Auditing organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions.

Franklin Templeton #funds awarded QFI status in Saudi Arabia

Franklin Templeton is evaluating opportunities to expand its Shariah business, which grew 32 percent in 2017. Franklin Templeton funds have become Qualified Foreign Investors (QFI) in Saudi Arabia, allowing the funds to invest directly in the kingdom’s stock market, it was announced on Monday. Sandeep Singh, Franklin Templeton’s regional head of Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa and head of Islamic Business said, that they operated in the Middle East and North Africa for almost 20 years and that they will remain dedicated to growing their business alongside the region’s growth.

#Takaful pays debts to free 400 female inmates

The Kuwaiti Takaful Society for Prisoners Care assisted in releasing 400 female prisoners after paying their debts. Chairman Dr Musaed Mandani said the Society wanted to help more women, but unfortunately their debt runs in thousands of dinars which is beyond the capacity of the society.

Dubai Islamic donates $5.4m to RAK charity

The Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has donated Dh20 million ($5.4 million) in Zakat money to the Ras al-Khaimah Charity Association. The association will distribute the funds to those eligible for Zakat though legitimate channels during the month of Ramadan. Abdul Razzaq Al Abdullah, head of the Community Services Department of the DIB, handed the donation cheque to Abdulaziz Al Zaabi, chairman of the charity association. Al Zaabi thanked the DIB’s management for its generous support and considerable donation.

Dubai Islamic Bank sees huge demand for capital raising plan

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has announced a successful closing to its capital raising programme. The issuance of 1.6 billion additional shares at price of AED3.11 per share was announced in April with the aim to boost the core capital of the bank by over AED5 billion ($1.36 billion). According to DIB's Group CEO Dr Adnan Chilwan, growth remains on the horizon as the bank’s financial position has become stronger than ever before with improved asset quality and balance sheet. He added that the capital boost will help maintain the bank's "competitive edge".

Opinion: Why there's no better time for GCC's #fintech revolution

As financial technologies continue to develop, one region in particular stands to benefit: the Gulf. This isn’t a revolution that is far off, it is happening today. For the countries of the GCC, fintech couldn’t arrive at a better time. The countries of the Gulf are all working to diversify their economies away from a dependence on fossil fuels. Bahrain has already launched its FinTech Bay, which has the mission of accelerating local early-stage fintech companies, as well as foreign companies to establish regional offices in Bahrain. In September this year DIFC’s FinTech Hive will launch the second edition of its accelerator programme for fintech innovators. The 2018 edition has also been expanded to include "insurtech", as well as Islamic finance and regulatory technology ("regtech") solutions.

Algosaibi signs grant agreement with Ebdaa Bank

The Algosaibi Holding Group has signed a grant agreement with Ebdaa Bank. This grant of BD100,000 ($263,000) will enhance the bank’s financial solvency and increase its ability to expand borrowers list which currently includes more than 2,500 borrowers. The agreement was signed by Dr Khalid Al Ghazawi, CEO of Ebdaa Bank, and Fawaz Algosaibi, CEO of Algosaibi Holding. As a nonprofit social financing, Ebdaa Bank seeks to help low-income Bahraini make their way to business. Fawaz Algosaibi praised the efforts made by Ebdaa Bank to provide easy financing for low-incomers and for the prudent management practices implemented by the Bank. He expressed his full confidence in the ability of the bank to manage the amount of support and maximize the benefits.

Fitch: #UAE Reforms Aid #Sukuk Market; Implementation Still Key

The UAE's Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) said that issuers of Islamic securities should improve disclosure. Issuers should specify how transaction resources and revenues would be treated if a security were deemed no longer compatible with the provisions of sharia. Issuers should also specify whether the Islamic securities being issued are tradeable under sharia rules. In addition, the SCA set out basic provisions for the composition and responsibilities of sharia boards. The SCA regulation provides a general framework for disclosure around these issues, not a detailed template. Nevertheless, the regulation is one of a number of initiatives that could support the UAE's sukuk market.

GII Islamic REIT acquires $32mln office in Dubai

GII Islamic REIT has acquired an AED 117.54 million two-floor office property in Downtown Dubai developed by Emaar Properties. The property is under a lease agreement with a global professional services firm, whose term will end after three years. The property was sold in consideration of $32 million with gross yields of around 8%. According to Mohammed AlHassan, CEO of GII, this is a high-quality acquisition for the REIT, and is consistent with GII REIT’s strategy to distribute 8% annual dividend to investors net of all costs.

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