GCC

Qatari investors focus on #US #property market

Qatari investors are increasingly looking for opportunites in the booming US propery market. Just Real Estate (JRE) has recently launched its new US portfolio, while QInvest announced its US mulitifamily residential-focused real estate fund Magnolia Real Estate Fund. The fund completed its first acquisition of an outstanding asset in Colorado, US. QInvest has been investing in Western Europe, UK and US for the past 5-6 years. JRE recently added two upscale addresses in Miami and New York City to its ever-growing portfolio of luxury developments in Qatar. Qatar, as a country, is becoming a big player in the New York City’s real estate market, with unconfirmed reports showing Qatar Investment Authority ranking the city's ninth-largest commercial property owner.

No big surge in bank #mergers expected in the #GCC

According to analysts, GCC’s banking sector is not expected to see a big surge in mergers and acquisitions. National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and First Gulf Bank (FGB) in the UAE recently merged to create the largest bank in the UAE. Masraf Al Rayan, International Bank of Qatar and Barwa Bank are in the due diligence phase of a planned three-way merger that would create the largest Islamic bank in Qatar. Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank are discussing a potential merger that would create the third-largest bank in Saudi Arabia. Despite market conditions and numerous rumours, a big surge in mergers is unlikely due to structural impediments. Some countries have only a small number of local banks, which limits competition. This means that profitability has remained solid despite the macroeconomic pressures. Thus, there is no compelling reason for a big number of regional banks to rush into merger deals.

Islamic Development Bank launches Innovation #Forum to empower youth

The week-long Innovation Forum hosted by the Islamic Development Bank brought together international experts as well as youth to discuss ways to foster an innovation culture. Experts agree that the major challenges of the IDB member countries include cultural barriers, lack of adequate investment in research and development and a low rate of graduates in scientific fields. Dr. Mimics Begivic, innovation specialist at the UNDP Regional Center for Europe and CIS, said that youth unemployment is a stubborn problem faced by countries that has both a direct and indirect cost on governments. Dr. Nabeel Koshak, president of Baha University, said that there remains a gap in funding to support SMEs in the Islamic world. In Saudi Arabia, the last five years have seen a boost in innovation. Dr. Koshak said the major obstacles for Saudi SMEs are the regulations, followed by competing and entering the market.

$100m fund launched in #Bahrain to help #SMEs growth

A $100 million fund has been launched in Bahrain to invest in the country's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The initiative has been unveiled by the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in partnership with Ibdar Bank and Labour Fund Tamkeen. The Bahrain SME Fund is a Shariah compliant mezzanine private equity fund which will target SMEs with high growth potential in consumer, industrial, ICT, education and healthcare sectors. Khalid Al Aboudi, CEO of the ICD, said that SME support is at the centre of ICD’s strategy as they seek to facilitate further prosperity in Islamic countries. Ahmed Al-Rayes, CIO of Ibdar Bank, added that the creation of this fund is aligned with the Bank’s mission to support Bahrain’s economic diversification through private sector growth.

#UAE’s Dana Gas begins refinancing talks on $700 mln #sukuk

United Arab Emirates' energy producer Dana Gas has started refinancing discussions with the holders of its $700 million sukuk maturing in October 2017. The company has faced a cash shortage in the last period and is now planning to restructure its dollar sukuk which was issued in May 2013. Dana Gas CEO Patrick Allman-Ward refused to comment. The energy producer in April repaid an outstanding $60 million loan for its Zora gas field project in the UAE to avoid a breach on the facility. Dana is owed receivables of about $1 billion from Egypt and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Its cash balance as of the end of March was $298 million, slightly below $302 million as of the end of last year. To focus on cash preservation, the company reduced its operational and capital spending in the first quarter.

#Tax provisions related to Islamic finance transactions

The Central Bank of #Oman and the Capital Market Authority allow Islamic financial institutions to follow the standards issued by the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). AAIOFI’s financial accounting standards differ from International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The differences between AAOIFI and IFRS standards have necessitated specific tax provisions for Islamic Finance Transactions (IFTs). To achieve this, a new chapter has been inserted in the income tax law of 2009. The chapter provides a framework to determine the tax liabilities of parties to an IFT. According to the new tax chapter, income includes any sum received in lieu of interest. The tax provisions also clarify that any partnerships designed solely to comply with Sharia will be disregarded. The latest tax law states that the financial statements can be prepared based on IFRS or any other similar standards approved by the Secretary General of Taxation (SGT). Institutions who have prepared their financial statements based on AAOIFI standards will have to reconcile their tax returns with the SGT.

Firm Financing and #Growth in the #Arab Region

This paper provides a first analysis of the extent to which firms in the Arab region use capital markets to obtain financing and grow. It addresses two questions: First, how many and which firms issue equity, bonds, and syndicated loans in the Arab region? Second, how do these firms perform relative to non-issuing firms? Two main findings emerge from the analysis. Over the last two decades, the amounts raised in equity, bond, and syndicated loan markets have considerably increased. The typical issuing firm is larger, grows faster, is more leveraged, and holds more long-term debt relative to the typical non-issuer. The firm size distribution of issuers lies to the right and shifts more rightwards over time, indicating a divergence in firm size among listed firms.

Gulf Islamic Investments expands #investments into lucrative transportation and logistic

Gulf Islamic Investments (GII) successfully completed a Shari’ah compliant growth capital financing round for transportation company Bion Group. The UAE-based Group provides both heavy haul transportation services and the manufacturing of heavy transport equipment. Pankaj Gupta, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Gulf Islamic Investments, said this partnership was an excellent opportunity for Bion Group to take advantage of the uptrends in the ever-increasing construction sector. Noas Al Rawi, CEO of Bion Group, said that with GII's assistance Bion will improve its services portfolio and increase production capacity. He added that Bion will target the refrigerated transportation sector and further consolidate its position in the country’s construction sector.

QInvest and GCC investor launch “Magnolia Fund” to invest in #US #residential #market

#Qatar's QInvest announced its collaboration with a GCC institutional investor to create the Magnolia Real Estate Fund. The fund has already completed its first acquisition of an asset in Colorado, USA. The acquisition was funded using an Ijarah property debt structure. The Magnolia Fund is focused on investing in the fast-growing, income-generating multifamily residential market in the US. The Fund is building a portfolio of assets in the sector and plans to make more acquisitions during 2017. The newly acquired asset is located in Fox Creek, Thornton, a northern suburb of Denver, Colorado. The asset is projected to yield net cash in excess of eight per cent on annual basis and a net IRR in the range of 12-13%. The multifamily manager TruAmerica has co-invested in the asset and will oversee the day-to-day operations of the property.

Dubai repays $600m #sukuk certificates

The Government of Dubai has announced that the $600 million (Dh2.2 billion) Sukuk Trust Certificates issued on May 2, 2012 reached maturity on May 2, 2017. Upon maturity, all the certificates were redeemed in full along with the accrued profit. According to Abdul Rahman Saleh Al Saleh, Director-General of the Department of Finance, this settlement reaffirms the government’s commitment to deal with its repayment obligations in a proactive manner. It also strengthens the government’s resolve to honour all its financial obligations on time.

CBK to implement Sharia governance by year-end – To be applied to all banks

The Central Bank of #Kuwait (CBK) is determined to develop the financial sector’s workforce and plans to introduce Sharia governance by the end of the year. CBK’s Inspection Department Chairman Waleed Al-Awadhi revealed that Sharia governance will be implemented after consultations with local banks and will be applied to all Kuwaiti banks. CBK has recently organized a workshop on the topic in collaboration with the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). Waleed Al-Awadhi said that the workshop aimed to familiarize employees of the financial and banking sectors with Sharia governance.

CASE STUDY: Etihad Lands Largest #Sukuk Debut in #MENA #Aviation History

#UAE-based airline Etihad Airways tapped the Islamic finance market with the largest ever sukuk issuance in the MENA region’s aviation history. In November 2016, Etihad Airways made its debut on the debt capital markets with a benchmark US$1.5bn sukuk deal. Etihad was initially rumoured to be raising US$500mn, but there was strong demand and the company’s debut US$1.5bn sukuk became the highest rated paper from an airline issuer. The book consisted of high-quality investors from the MENA region, Asia and Europe, creating significant price tension that enabled Etihad to optimize pricing and issue size. Banks dominated the distribution cross-section (77%), while 13% of the notes were allocated to fund managers, 5% to private banks, 4% to insurance and pension funds, 1% to other investors. The 5-year sukuk was launched under the newly established Islamic Trust Certificate (Sukuk) programme and represented a landmark debt capital market transaction.

#Saudi Electricity in talks with banks for dollar #sukuk issue - sources

State-controlled utility Saudi Electricity is in talks with regional and international banks about issuing a US dollar-denominated sukuk. A number of companies in the kingdom are considering sukuk issuance to offset a decline in revenues due to lower oil prices. Oil giant Saudi Aramco issued a debut $3 billion-equivalent sukuk in the Saudi local market in April, while ACWA Power is expected to issue an international bond of at least $600 million this week. Saudi Electricity issued $2.5 billion in sukuk in 2014, split between a $1.5 billion sukuk maturing in 2024 and $1 billion due in 2044. The company recently repaid a $500 million five-year sukuk it issued in 2012.

ICD, Tamkeen & Ibdar launch $100million #Bahrain #SME #fund

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in partnership with Ibdar Bank and Labour Fund Tamkeen has announced the launch of the Bahrain SME fund. The Bahrain SME Fund is a Shariah compliant mezzanine private equity Fund which will invest in Bahrain’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). The Fund will target SME’s with high growth potential in consumer, industrial, ICT, education and healthcare sectors, as well as sectors experiencing dynamic change. The Fund will add immense value to Bahrain as a tool for SME growth and development where 90% of Bahrain enterprises are SMEs and their contribution accounts for about 30% of the Kingdom’s GDP.

Jadwa Investment launches Jadwa #REIT Al-Haramain Fund

#Saudi Jadwa Investment announced the conclusion of the public offering of its first Shariah-compliant Real Estate Investment Traded Fund, Jadwa REIT Al-Haramain Fund. The new fund will invest in real estate properties in Makkah and Madinah. The REIT, which has an initial size of SR660 million ($176 million), offered SR360 million worth of units to the general public. Over 5,800 individual and intuitional investors subscribed for SR4.53 billion during the offer period, resulting in a 1.257% coverage of the offered units. Haitham Al-Ghannam, head of alternative investments at Jadwa, said the initial portfolio of the REIT would comprise of two hospitality assets, a four-star hotel and a pilgrim accommodation. Both properties are located in Makkah with a combined capacity of 984 hotel rooms. At its initial offer price of SR10 per unit, the REIT offers net initial yield of 5.2%.

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.

#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.

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.

Syndicate content