GCC

NMC CFO and family left UAE on Indian repatriation flight: reports

NMC Health is at the centre of a multi-billion dollar fraud investigation, but its chief financial officer (CFO) Suresh Krishnamoorthy has left the UAE and returned to India. Krishnamoorthy stepped down as CFO in 2017 when Prasanth Manghat took over as the NMC CEO, but was reinstated in February this year when the company's financial troubles came to light. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), which has $981 million worth of exposure in the healthcare provider, successfully applied to UK courts to have the company placed into administration and NMC has subsequently been removed from the London Stock Exchange.

Gulf bonds prove resilience amid virus-induced adversity

As investors dealt with volatility across most of its prized asset classes, Gulf bonds are emerging resilient after yet another crisis. The region’s debt markets did witness instances of sharp sell-off in the last few weeks, but analysts still see them ending the year strong. According to capital markets expert Anita Yadav, this year total new bond issuances will likely surpass the record $101 billion raised in 2019. So far this year, the GCC bond markets have stayed resilient, having in recent weeks only sold off 60% of emerging market debt and roughly 50% of high-yield debt. Net debt of sovereigns in the region still remains relatively low and credit ratings are relatively high compared with that of other emerging market countries.

GCC banks face 'earnings shock' from lower oil price, Covid-19

GCC banks will see significantly reduced revenue as they face an earnings shock from the oil price drop and Covid-19 pandemic. S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Mohamed Damak says the coronavirus will take a toll on important sectors such as real estate, hospitality, and consumer-related, but these will be relatively short lived and he forecasts a gradual recovery in nonoil activity from third-quarter 2020. In his view, if the recovery takes longer than expected, GCC banks could feel greater pressure. In March, S&P revised its outlooks of some UAE banks including First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Mashreqbank, Sharjah Islamic Bank and National Bank of Fujairah to negative. Most central banks in the GCC have already come up with stimulus packages to help the banking system withstand the economic fallout. The Central Bank of the UAE on Sunday doubled the size of its stimulus package to Dh256 billion.

#Bahrain's Al Baraka Bank looks for acquisitions as coronavirus pandemic hits valuations

Bahrain's Al Baraka Banking Group plans to expand into India, China and Indonesia as the coronavirus pandemic pushes valuations down. The pandemic, which has tipped the global economy into a recession, slated to be the deepest since the Great Depression, has dented lending. Al Baraka Banking Group plans to setup a small commercial bank in China focusing on trade financing to capitalise on growing commercial ties. In Indonesia, the lender has already explored the possibility of taking a stake in Bank Muamalat three years ago and will continue to look for further opportunities. Al Baraka currently operates in Sudan, Turkey, South Africa, Algeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

Unified legislative framework for Islamic finance launched

Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the launch of a new initiative to create a unified global legal and legislative framework for the Islamic finance sector. The framework is set to enable the Islamic economy to expand its reach and responds to calls for greater standardisation within the sector. A memorandum of understanding has already been signed between Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). Furthermore, Norton Rose Fulbright has been recently appointed to provide legal advice in drafting the code for the global framework.

Abu Dhabi based NMC Health’s trading arm sees major job cuts

More than 300 staff members at NMC Trading have been laid off and more are likely to follow. It was on April 9 that NMC was placed under administration on the UK High Court’s orders, following a request submitted by ADCB, the UAE bank with the highest loan exposure to the company. Letting go of its trading division could bring in some much needed funds for NMC Group. It's also part of the strategy to focus exclusively on core operations made up of its hospitals and clinics.

Saudi's Al Moammar Information Systems signs $77mln Islamic loan

Saudi Arabia’s Al Moammar Information Systems (MIS) signed an Islamic facility agreement with Riyad Bank for 290 million Saudi riyals ($77.15 million). The revolving facility will be renewable every year. MIS’s listing on Tadawul last year marked the first listing for a company from the IT sector on the Saudi bourse. The company reported a net profit after zakat and tax of 76 million riyals in 2019, compared to 64.5 million riyals in 2018. Revenues rose to 997.5 million riyals last year, compared to 886.2 million riyals in 2018.

#Bahrain’s Al Salam Bank exits $182.5 mln U.S. multifamily real estate

Bahrain's Al Salam Bank has sold a portfolio of seven multifamily assets in the United States for $182.5 million. Al Salam acquired the real estate assets in North Carolina and Texas in 2016. The bank said the sale price exceeds the original underwriting for the portfolio. Al Salam Bank’s head of private banking Ali Habib Qassim said the exit comes at an opportune time ahead of the uncertainty of the current COVID-19 crisis.

Many Join Saudi Online Platform to Teach Arabic Calligraphy

The Saudi Ministry of Culture announced its launch of the first electronic platform to teach Arabic calligraphy and Islamic decoration. The electronic platform will be supervised by a group of professional calligraphers from the Kingdom and the Arab world. The platform offers various training courses, including professional courses in the types of Arabic calligraphy, making calligraphic paintings and artwork, letter formations, gilding, Islamic decoration, drawing and coloring, the art of paper marbling and Ebru (needle art). The platform will also give the trainee the opportunity to develop Arabic computer fonts by learning designs and programming fonts. The online platform was launched in 2018 and has over 19,000 users from 30 different countries around the world.

Gulf bonds prove resilience amid virus-induced adversity

Gulf bonds are emerging resilient after yet another crisis. In the last few weeks the pandemic-induced investor worries soared and oil prices plummeted, but analysts still see them ending the year strong. According to capital markets expert Anita Yadav, total new bond issuances in 2020 will likely surpass the record $101 billion raised in 2019. So far this year, the GCC bond markets have comparatively stayed resilient, having in recent weeks only sold off 60% of emerging market debt and roughly 50% of high-yield debt. Year-to-date GCC issuers have priced more than $47 billion of USD denominated bonds in international markets, nearly matching the $47.8 billion raised during the same period last year.

Saudi Arabia raises $1.48bln in local #sukuk -statement

Saudi Arabia has raised 5.55 billion riyals in sukuk. The first tranche of the sukuk issue has a size of 1.3 billion riyals, and a total tranche size of 2.523 billion riyals, maturing in 2027. The second tranche has a size of 4.25 billion riyals, and a total tranche size of 8.238 billion riyals, maturing in 2035.

UK court's intervention is worst-case scenario, says NMC Health chairman

According to hospital operator NMC Health and its Executive Chairman Faisal Belhoul, getting placed in administration by a UK court order would be the "worst-case scenario" for the company’s future. The threat of coming under administration is a live one after Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank had filed a request with a UK court for NMC to be placed under a joint administration. ADCB – which has an exposure of Dh3.6 billion to NMC and affiliates - filed its request in a UK court because NMC Health is listed on London Stock Exchange. According to Belhoul, international institutional investors are keen to take an exposure in NMC despite its current predicament.

Bahrain Islamic Bank launches Tejoori Instant Finance

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) launched the Tejoori Instant Finance service allowing customers to obtain instant finance within 5 minutes. According to BisB Chief Retail Banking, Dalal Al Qais, customers can get instant finance on amounts ranging between BD 200 and BD 2,000, which will be credited to their Saving or Current Account in less than 5 minutes. Customers will be required to pay upfront fees that vary between BD30 and BD70, depending on the required amount. They can choose a minimum tenor of three months up to a maximum tenor of 12 months to repay the amount with no profits. The monthly instalment will be deducted directly from the customer’s Tejoori account.

Temenos helps Yemeni bank to digitalise operations

Yemen’s Al Kuraimi Islamic Bank (KIB) is replacing its legacy IT systems with a single cloud-native, cloud-agnostic digital banking platform from Temenos. Temenos Infinity will support the delivery of hyper-personalised, omnichannel customer experiences and allow KIB to provide faster, seamless customer service. Temenos Transact will optimise KIB’s operations and enable the delivery of enhanced digital products with shorter timescales for delivery. Established in 2010, KIB has 1.2 million customers and is aiming to reach 5 million by 2023. Its goals include making financial services easily accessible across Yemen, supporting socioeconomic development, and raising the national standard of living.

World Health Organization thanks Saudi Arabia for contributing $500 million to combat Coronavirus

The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom thanked Saudi Arabia for donating 500 million dollars to support the international efforts in combating and preventing the spread of novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Saudi Arabia will allocate 150 million dollars to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, 150 million dollars to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and 200 million dollars to the other international and regional health organizations and programs. The novel Coronavirus has killed more than 150,000 people worldwide and infected over 2.2 million people in 193 countries and territories.

Qatari humanitarian organisation pledges $43mn to UNHCR Refugee Zakat Fund

Qatar based Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al-Thani Humanitarian Fund will contribute $43mn to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Refugee Zakat Fund. UNHCR also launched the findings of its 2020 Islamic Philanthropy Report. According to the report, in 2019 the Refugee Zakat Fund received $43mn, including the largest ever single contribution made by Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al-Thani Humanitarian Fund of over $35mn. The Fund’s Zakat contribution has helped support 164,696 vulnerable families. The donation has provided much-needed cash assistance to fulfill immediate needs, as well as, the provision of food.

Alvarez & Marsal administrators to ailing NMC healthcare group

Richard Fleming, Mark Firmin and Ben Cairns of Alvarez & Marsal Europe have been appointed joint administrators of Abu Dhabi-based NMC Health. In February the company uncovered $335m (£258m) in previously undisclosed loans to related parties, and a further investigation by PwC unearthed over $2.7bn (£2bn) in undisclosed debt. The administrators have replaced the NMC board, stating that an immediate priority is to implement corporate governance changes in the group. In February, the Financial Conduct Authority launched an investigation into NMC's activities after the company's shares were suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange.

Ayman Amin Sejiny, CEO at Islamic Development Bank Group

Ayman Amin Sejiny has been the chief executive officer of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) since October 2018. The ICD is the private sector arm of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank Group. Recently, ICD announced a rapid response initiative to combat the repercussions of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by allocating $250 million in emergency funding. ICD will aid the private health care industries of affected member countries. ICD will also work closely with more than 100 local and regional financial institutions so that they can continue to finance small- and medium-sized enterprises.

ADCB to lead NMC Health lenders group formed to hold talks on $6.6bn debt

NMC Health's biggest creditors have set up a coordinating committee, taking a major step toward restructuring the $6.6 billion debt of the hospital operator. The company asked Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) to chair a coordinating committee of debtholders. Deloitte and Clifford Chance have been appointed to advise the committee while Lazard will work with its chair. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Barclays and Standard Chartered will join Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank to form an initial steering group that will lead talks with NMC. NMC is being run by administrators Alvarez & Marsal after succumbing to creditor demands. NMC Health was suspended in February amid allegations of fraud. It has revealed more than $4 billion of undisclosed borrowings, pushing its total debt to $6.6 billion.

Administrators of NMC Health Revamp Company's Board

The administrators of troubled hospital operator NMC Health have announced a new board of directors. Previous board members, including executive chairman Faisal Belhoul have been removed. The move came after London's High Court on Thursday placed NMC Health into administration, on the application of one of its biggest lenders, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB). Michael Brenden Davis remains as interim chief executive officer and chief operating officer, but does not sit on the company's board.

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