GCC

Middle East WEF to focus on building jobs for young people

The World Economic Forum’s Middle East and North Africa meeting takes place this year at the Dead Sea in Jordan. The meeting’s formal programme has the theme: Enabling a Generational Transformation, and is based on three interrelated pillars: two long term and one urgent. The first long term pillar focuses on how to enable innovation and youth empowerment by using new technologies like bio-tech, nano-tech and artificial intelligence. These new technologies will continue to develop, so training people in these areas will be a long-term solution in creating new jobs for young people. The second pillar is about finding a framework for an inclusive economic transformation. The third and more urgent pillar is the search for how to best cope with the vast humanitarian crisis in the region. The common thread in all three strands is an optimism that anarchy and sectarian chaos can be defeated.

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Bitcoin Mania versus Tulip Mania?

Dear Reader,

regular readers may remember my critic on bitcoin from an Islamic perspective missing intrinsic value. The former blog entry you find here: http://www.islamicfinance.de/?q=node/7840 - almost two years ago.

So far bitcoin just went up higher and higher, with wild fluctuations but nevertheless.

It reminds on how bubbles work, think about the tulip mania in 1637 a nice piece of economic history. A single tulip bulb was traded and bought on credit. Check the Wiki page on it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania

As bitcoin has even less value than a tulip except for payment purposes, it is the payment functionality, which can lead to destruction. What happens if a new alternative currency is becoming en vogue, which has a better usability and faster transaction time? In my view this is most likely trigger to burst the bubble.

FT Alphaville covers now the difficulties coming up with bitcoin's increasing transaction numbers causing inconvenience in using the digital currency:

https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2017/05/17/2188961/the-currency-of-the-futur...

#Qatar Islamic Bank's dollar #sukuk books top $1 billion -lead

Order books for Qatar Islamic Bank's planned dollar five-year sukuk have topped $1 billion. The senior unsecured deal is part of a $3 billion sukuk programme. It will be of benchmark size, which conventionally means upwards of $500 million. Initial price guidance for the Islamic bond was 145-155 basis points over mid-swaps. Citi, Emirates NBD Capital, HSBC, Noor Bank, QInvest and Standard Chartered Bank have been appointed to lead the transaction.

ICD, stakeholders tackle opportunities, challenges

On the occasion of the Islamic Development Bank Group 42nd annual meeting, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) organized a side event entitled ICD Clients Day. During the event, ICD seized the opportunity to meet with potential clients and stakeholders from private sectors. In addition, ICD presented its achievements in 2016 and awarded its Best Clients for 2016, namely Coris Bank International, Vitamed Medical Diagnostic Center and Al-Qadi Specialty Hospital. ICD general manager Khaled Al-Aboodi opened the session welcoming all the participants. Later on, Thomson Reuters presented the last edition of the Islamic Finance Development report. The event was a chance to share knowledge, to assess new opportunities and to network with the decision-makers, industry leaders and experts.

Alizz islamic bank launches Tharwa Wealth Management

Alizz islamic bank recently celebrated the launch of the Tharwa Wealth Management Segment. Tharwa offers an array of financial services led by a team of seasoned relationship managers. Tharwa customers benefit from a selection of exclusive privileges including access to special discounts on travel, accommodation, restaurants, entertainment and various VIP services. Furthermore, Tharwa customers can enjoy the privacy of the Tharwa lounges in conducting their banking transactions, as well as the MasterCard World Credit Card. Tharwa customers also have the flexibility to manage their money through the Izdihar sweep savings account, which adheres to the Islamic principle of unrestricted Mudarabah.

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%.

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