GCC

DFSA issues new #fintech consultation paper

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has published its new financial technology (fintech) consultation paper. The paper is the third in a series, setting out the DFSA’s approach to the regulation of pioneering fintech activities. The paper sets out the DFSA’s approach to FinTech firms that want to test innovative products and services in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Firms meeting the qualifying criteria will receive a Financial Services Licence, referred to as an Innovation Testing Licence. The testing phase is a step towards the FinTech firm obtaining a full Financial Services Licence.

#Tunisia: GFH would like to pass “Financial Port” to another investor

The Bahraini Gulf Finance House (GFH) would seek to get rid of its Tunisian project, the Tunis Financial Harbor. The project was to be one of the largest Bahraini investments in Tunisia, which would be worth 7.5 billion USD. Tunis Financial Harbor was initially designed to make Tunisia a regional financial hub, but eventually turned into a simple real estate program. GFH is currently seeking to pass the hand and to pass the project on to another investor. The cause would be the financial difficulties of the Bahraini group.

#UAE Islamic banking assets reach Dh520b

Saif Hadef Al Shamsi, Assistant Governor at the UAE Central Bank, has said that total Islamic banking assets in the UAE have increased to approximately Dh520 billion in the past few years. Al Shamsi added that Islamic banking’ assets account for around 20% of Dh2.6 trillion of the total assets of the state’s banks. The assistant governor pointed out that UAE Islamic banking institutions account for about 7% of the total assets of Islamic banking around the world. This approximately amounts to a total of $1.5 trillion (Dh5.5 trillion). He further explained that Islamic banking deposits increased by 42% over the past three years and that lending by Islamic banks increased by 54%.

Fitch: Slower #UAE Islamic Bank growth will weaken asset quality

According to Fitch Ratings, a slowdown in Islamic financing growth in the UAE will reveal a deterioration in banks' asset quality as portfolios season more quickly. This will start to become evident as banks report their 2016 results. Financing growth slowed in 2016 and a continuing slowdown in 2017 is expected. Demand for Islamic financing in the UAE has grown rapidly with increasing customer awareness and wider adoption of Shari'ah products, especially among retail customers. Growth of Islamic bank financing in 2016 was expected to have been significantly lower than in 2015, although still higher than that of conventional bank lending. Newer Islamic banks with smaller franchises are likely to be affected first by the slowdown. Those that have been established for longer are likely to be affected later, and to a lesser degree, given their stronger franchises.

Warba Bank launches marketing campaign for USD-250-mln #sukuk

Kuwait's Warba Bank announced the launch of a marketing campaign for sukuk to be issued with a total value of USD 250 million. Warba Bank's CEO Shaheen Hamad Al-Ghanim said the campaign targets investors in Kuwait and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, in addition to global stock markets. Al-Ghanim explained that the bank signed a deal with an international advisor to a new strategy for 2021, which is based on improving the bank's operations and further enhancing the quality of assets and diversifying sources of income. He noted that Warba Bank has previously obtained approvals from the Central Bank of Kuwait and Capital Market Authority, while the General Assembly has authorized the board of directors to issue sukuk.

Barwa Bank is eyeing larger share of infrastructure financing in #Qatar

Barwa Bank Group said it will spare no effort to gain the largest possible share of financing infrastructure projects in the country. Barwa Bank chairman Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said due to the national economy’s provision of promising opportunities, the bank will provide all possible support to the growth of the country’s economy. The group recorded strong growth in each of the financial position and profits, as net profit for 2016 rose to QR738.8mn and earnings per share reached QR2.49. The growth in the group’s business and the increase in its investment activities go in line with maintaining asset quality and risk management policies with total non-performing loans accounting for just 1.5% of the net financing portfolio.

Ajman Bank to finance construction of Saudi German #Hospital Ajman

Ajman Bank has signed a financing agreement with Saudi German Hospitals Group for the construction of Saudi German Hospital Ajman (SGH-Ajman). The planned hospital would be a 50- bed facility in the Emirate of Ajman. The total cost of the project is AED327.3 million, and the completion of all phases of the project and formal opening of the hospital is expected in 2018. The signing of the agreement was overseen by Mohamed Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of Ajman Bank, and Sobhi Batterjee, CEO and Chairman of the Saudi German Hospitals Group. Akram Khan, Vice President of Ajman Bank, said that the agreement includes providing a housing fund for hospital workers and a range of items within the framework of the agreement.

Launching AAOIFI in 850 Days #report and Shari'ah #standards e-learning platform

Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has launched a comprehensive report on "AAOIFI in 850 Days". The report provides concise details, including infographs, illustrations, and statistical figures, covering AAOIFI's developments in activities over the period from September 2014 to end of December 2016. Dr. Hamed Merah, AAOIFI's Secretary General, said that AAOIFI embarks on efforts to enhance transparency as key to effective communication. Meanwhile, AAOIFI's statute was amended, and a set of 7 by-laws, policies and procedures, charters were developed. These include launching of AAOFI's Shari'ah standards translation projects (for Russian, French, and Urdu languages), and publication of AAOIFI's standards in paper and digital formats including a mobile app for smart phones. The section on strategic relationships cover AAOIFI's ties with stakeholders, specifically development of ties with institutional members. The report highlighted AAOIFI's keenness to further solidify its relationship with central banks and regulatory and supervisory authorities.

ADIB dismisses Al-Hilal #merger talk as ‘rumour’

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank dismissed reports that it may merge with Al-Hilal Bank as consolidation takes hold in the emirate’s financial-services industry. Abu Dhabi is combining National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank and two sovereign wealth funds as it seeks to cut costs and merge firms with overlapping assets. The next step could be a tie-up between ADIB with Al-Hilal and a combination of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Union National Bank. Tirad Mahmoud said ADIB plans to stick to its core markets and strengthen its presence. He also said that mergers were a shareholder issue and there might be 'some pressure' on net interest margins this year. ADIB posted a 1% rise in 2016 net profit to Dh1.95 billion ($530 million) on Tuesday as provisions rose to Dh970 million from Dh820 million.

QIIB to begin operations in #Morocco with four branches

Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani bin Abdullah Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) inaugurated the bank’s new branch at the Mall of Qatar. CEO Abdulbasit Ahmad Al Shaibei said the bank is expected to start its operations in Morocco by the first quarter of 2017 with four branches. The lender had signed a joint venture agreement with the Moroccan Bank Credit Immobilier et Hotelier (CIH) for the establishment of a bank in Morocco in December 2015. Under the agreement, QIIB will have 40% stake in the proposed bank. The new QIIB branch is on the ground floor of the Mall of Qatar, considered to be one of the most important shopping destinations in the region.

Gulf Finance House distances itself from finance harbor plan

Bahrain's Gulf Finance House (GFH) is distancing itself from its major Tunisian property project, Tunis Financial Harbour (TFH). GFH's local subsidiary, Tunis Bay Project Co is to drop out of the residential golf course project.

UPDATE 1-#Saudi Arabia issues request for proposals for international #sukuk - sources

Saudi Arabia has sent a request for proposals (RFP) to banks for a planned U.S. dollar sukuk. The debt sale would be Saudi's second international bond offering, after the sovereign issued a debut $17.5 billion bond in October last year. Saudi Arabia is also expected to issue a conventional bond later this year. The kingdom's bond plans are part of its push towards a more diversified economy that is less reliant on oil exports. The RFP was issued at a busy time in the Gulf with other countries also planning to raise funds internationally to offset the impact of lower global oil prices. Bahrain launched a tap of its $1 billion 2028 bond on Tuesday, while Oman is expected to announce the launch of a new bond this week.

Qatar Islamic Bank AGM gives the go-ahead to #Sukuk issuance

The Assembly General Meeting (AGM) of Qatar Islamic Bank has voted the proposal to increase the limit of the perpetual Sukuk “Additional Tier 1 Capital (AT1) Sukuk“ from QAR 5 Billion to QAR 7.5 Billion. The meeting, held on 21 February, also approved the board of directors’ proposal to distribute 47.5% cash dividends of the nominal value per share, i.e. QAR 4.75 per share.

#Kuwait’s Islamic banks thrive despite continued economic uncertainty

Despite the global drop in oil prices, Islamic finance continues to thrive. According to the EY consultancy, Sharia-compliant banking grew at an annual rate of 17.6% between 2009 and 2013, and is now projected to grow by an estimated 19.7% annually by 2018. This rate of growth far outpaces that of conventional banks, putting pressure on traditional banks to diversify their operations by including Sharia-compliant services. Kuwait International Bank (KIB) converted to exclusively Sharia-compliant services in 2007 and paved the way for Islamic finance in Kuwait. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, Chairman of KIB, said the bank has adopted a new strategic outlook which had its first stage launched in 2015. This brought about a change in KIB’s franchise operations and its day-to-day activities. The second phase develops the bank's product and service offerings. The final stage scheduled for 2017 will focus on boosting KIB’s competitive edge within the banking industry.

ICD and International Association of Islamic Business (IAIB) sign a MoU

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and the International Association of Islamic Business (IAIB), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore collaboration between entrepreneurs from Islamic countries and Russian Federation. The two institutions are determined to collaborate on introducing Islamic banking products in Russia and lobbying for changes in Russian banking legislation. ICD's CEO Khaled Al-Aboodi said he was looking forward to the collaboration, while IAIB President Marat Kabayev said the purpose of the partnership was to develop economic ties among Islamic countries, to promote Islamic Finance in Russia and attract investors from Islamic countries. ICD and IAIB also agreed to organize joint professional programmes, market research, workshops, publications, study tours and assistance in production and certification of Halal goods.

#Qatari bank #merger will ‘rebalance’ the market – Moody’s

According to Moody’s Investors Service, a proposed merger between three Qatari banks would help “rebalance” the banking sector in the country. The merger is currently at due diligence stage and will be subject to approval by the relevant authorities. The merged entity between Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar would create the largest Islamic bank and second largest lender in Qatar. Total assets would amount to around QAR173bn ($48bn) and the market share would be around 14%. Moody’s assistant vice president Nitish Bhojnagarwala said Islamic banking asset growth has outpaced conventional banking in Qatar, as demonstrated by a 21% compound annual growth rate of loans for Islamic banks between 2011 and 2016 compared with 14% for the conventional banks. The GCC is witnessing a consolidation in the banking sector, with the two largest lenders in Abu Dhabi also currently preparing to merge.

QInvest successfully exits a prime London residential #real-estate #fund

Qatar Islamic Bank's QInvest is exiting the St. Edmund’s Terrace LP Fund. The Shari'ah compliant fund was jointly owned by QInvest and a range of GCC institutional and retail investors. It invested GBP 50 million into developing a new, prime residential project through a real estate development company. The Fund was created to provide investors with the opportunity to invest in London’s prime residential market. At completion, the Fund generated 22% net returns to investors. Craig Cowie, Head of Real Estate at QInvest said the returns exceeded expectations and added a notable asset to the luxury real estate market in London. The project, 50 St. Edmund’s Terrace, completed in June 2015 and comprises of three residential blocks and 37 units. It delivered an average selling price in excess of GBP 2,600 per square foot.

REVIEW: DIB breaks open #sukuk market for financials

Dubai Islamic Bank became the first Gulf financial institution to print a sukuk this year as it priced a US$1bn 3.664% five-year issuance. The only other bank from the region to have issued this year is Gulf International Bank, which sold a conventional US$500m five-year last month. Proceeds will go towards refinancing a US$500m sukuk coming due in May, as well as a US$300m maturity for the subsidiary Tamweel. Middle East accounts took 61%, Europe 20%, and Asia 19%. By investor type, banks got 52%, asset managers 39%, agencies 3%, private banks 2% and insurers 2%. Lead arrangers include Bank ABC, DIB, Emirates NBD, HSBC, KFH, Maybank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah Islamic Bank and Standard Chartered.

#GCC #VAT a test for Islamic Finance- Fitch

According to Fitch Ratings, the plan to introduce Value Added Tax (VAT) in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states could be a key test for the region's Islamic finance industry. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain approved the implementation of VAT in the GCC, however, local implementation laws must still be agreed in each country. This paves the way for the introduction of an expected 5% VAT rate as early as the beginning of 2018. Without tax neutrality or equality rules, the introduction of VAT would put Islamic finance transactions at a disadvantage to conventional transactions. A VAT charge adds to the instalment payments in a murabaha, while a conventional transaction would not have VAT for the sale of the asset added to the interest payments. Numerous countries with VAT have provided for some form of tax neutrality or equality for Islamic finance transactions, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan.

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