Al Islami Foods and Alf Yad, a Dubai based venture capital fund for young Arab entrepreneurs announced their strategic collaboration. Alf Yad will raise and deploy AED 100 mn to promising Arab entrepreneurs across the region. Initially, Alf Yad will support Al Islami with the introduction of a business franchise for fast foods - the Al Islami Cart - a business franchise for fast foods primarily distributed in major Co-Op supermarkets, high traffic mall outlets as well as the Global Village and university campuses.
Mr. Saleh Abdullah Lootah, is Chief Executive Officer of Al Islami Foods. Mr. Shehab Gargash is the Chief Executive Officer of Daman Investments, the manager of the fund.
Ulf Laessing reported in ArabianBusiness on 27 March about NBK Capitals plans to arrange Sukuk issues worth up to USD 700 mn in 2008 and to finalise four purchases for a Private Equity Fund.
The article confirms the slow down due to the credit crisis and that the pricing does not meet the clients requirement easily.
Further the company is buying into a car leasing company in Saudi, according to the Head of investment and merchant banking, Amjad Ahmad. It also aims to open offices in Qatar and Saudi-Arabia next year. It is operation in Turkey and interested in Syria.
NBK Capital operates currently in Kuwait and Dubai and focusses on mid-range deals in the triple-million dollar digit range.
The Peninsula reported on 27 March about the Musharaka Sukuk USD 137.5 mn arranged by Qatar Islamic Bank on behalf of the ‘Salam Bounian Development Company Limited’. Qatar National Bank Al Islami, the Islamic branch of Qatar National Bank and ALSAFA, the Islamic banking division of the Commercialbank of Qatar QSC, were joint lead managers and bookrunners for the issue. Only Qatari financial institutions participated for the first time. The Sukuk will be listed in Luxembourg and traded by the Qatar Islamic Bank and its affiliates, European Finance House and Asian Finance House.
Kuwait News Agency reported on 24 March that the Saudi-based Al-Rajhi bank, the largest Islamic bank globally, received approval to open a branch in Kuwait.
Bahraini and GCC investors plan to establish an Islamic stock market in Bahrain. The stock market is part of the proposed Islamic mega bank project, which is said to have received licence from Central Bank of Bahrain.
Businessman Shaikh Saleh Kamel is quoted to have said that the bank aims for a capital of USD 11 bn, of which USD 1 bn are administrative shares for the bank's strategic investors, among them Al Baraka Group, a Kuwaiti bank, Saudi Investment Bank, Islamic development Bank and Bahrain Islamic Bank.
The mega bank is supposed to launch USD 33 bn worth of investment funds in regional and international markets.
The reknown Islamic finance specialist lawyer, Michael McMillen, joins Fulbright & Jaworski as partner to lead its global Islamic finance practice. He used to work previously for Dechert and King & Spalding.
John Irish reported on Monday, 24 March in ArabianBusiness that Dubai-based mortgage lender Amlak Finance plans to sell as much as 1.8 billion dirhams convertible and 3 billion dirhams non-convertible Sukuk this year to help finance expansion.
The CEO, Arif Al-Harmi confirmed the approval to Reuters given by the extraordinary general meeting of the board and the Chairman, Nasser Al-Shaikh, revealed that the total plans are to raise 6 billion dirhams this year. Amlak, an affiliate of Emaar Properties, will launch operations in Qatar and Jordan this year and has applied for a licence in Bahrain, Al-Harmi said. Syria is in discussion state.
Amlak delayed a sale of Sukuk late 2007 because of unsecure demand situation caused by the US credit crisis.
ABC Islamic Bank (the Initial Mandated Lead Arranger and Bookrunner) launched general syndication for Kuwaits Munshaat Real Estate Projects Company ("Munshaat"). ABC Islamic Bank had successfully closed the senior phase of the US$100 million, 3-year Syndicated Revolving Murabaha Financing Facility.
Prior to general syndication BNP Paribas, Emirates Bank International PJSC, and Saudi British Bank joined the facility as Mandated Lead Arrangers at the senior stage.
This is the debut syndication for Munshaat and the funds will be used to finance development of prime properties in the Holy Haram area in Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia. Athman Investment Company, Kuwait is acting as the financial advisor to Munshaat Real Estate Projects Company for this financing.
Summary of the facility is as follows:
Borrower: Munshaat Real Estate Projects Company K.S.C.
Amount: US$100 million
Facility Type: Revolving Murabaha Financing Facility Purpose: Financing of prime properties in Makkah & Madinah
Business Intelligence reported on 18 March that the Sharia Board of the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) has issued the first standards for trading shares. The establishment of such standards is in line with DFM becoming an Islamic exchange as decided on the Annual General Meeting in 2007. Since then the Sharia Board with its Chairman, Dr Hussain Hamid has focused on the establishment of criteria to classify listed companies in terms of Sharia-compliance and accounting practices.
The standards are divided into five sections and cover the following areas: definitions of terms and criteria; implications for brokers and investors; guidelines for compliance for conventional firms; conventional income guidelines; and general rules and regulations.
Mr Essa Kazim is Chairman of the DFM.
Arthur Macdonald reported in Gulf Daily News that the Sukuk market has suffered from the global financial crisis, but it is likely to recover. It impacted pricing and access to investors. Further the discussion on the Dollar peg of Gulf currencies created addtional uncertainties. Nevertheless the market has grown in ten years from millions to billions, participants of a Sukuk conference in Bahrain said.
Matthew Martin reported on 18 March that Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) is evaluating opportunities to acquire a conventional Egyptian bank and convert it into an Islamic bank, and is also applying for a banking licence in Turkey.
Qatar Islamic Bank will likely follow its strategy of independent brands, like before in regard to European Finance House in London, Asian Finance House in Malaysia and Arab Finance House in Lebanon.
Edward Russell-Walling wrote in The Banker about an investment bank called Exotix, which y tackles the Yemeni frontier for investment, you can find the entire text here:
What is remarkable on this article from an Islamic finance perspective? A few issues:
1. It shows how investment banks can operate in emerging or so-called frontier markets:
"Exotix specialises in what are known these days as ‘frontier’ markets, particularly in Africa, in generally off-limits jurisdictions such as Cuba and North Korea, in the wilder corners of Latin America (which these days includes Argentina) and the Balkans. It began in 1999 as a distressed debt specialist and has been putting the knowledge gleaned from that exacting trade to wider use."
2. The frontier market attract more foreign investment and new entities are being set up:
"Since 2005, Exotix has developed an equity platform. “This is a one-stop shop, substantially a stockbroking business, for international investors looking to invest in sub-Saharan Africa,” explains Exotix CEO Peter Bartlett.
Recently I came across the website www.kiva.org - which happened to be an Internet based charity. What they do? They connect those people who need a microfinance with those small scale donors previously not accessible. It brings together people willing to lend a 25 $ with those who need a 500 $ for a cow, and syndicates it with different lenders globally. A fascinating technology, showing where you contribute and could make difference.
My belief is, that this peer to peer concept using institutional infrastructure for distribution but relying on a high number of small donors, has a great future. People have confidence to make a difference.
Have a look and think about, how this platform could be used in other ways as well!
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