GCC

ADIB's Riad Sees Strong Uptick in #Sukuk Activity in Second Half

In this interview Amir Riad, head of corporate finance at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) talks about the UAE's economy and the lender's sukuk business. Riad sees a positive traction as the oil price is stabilising and the capital markets are deepening. ADIB has just announced the issuance of a new tier 1 sukuk, which replaces the bank's issuance in 2012. He expects a strong sukuk activity in the second half for the whole GCC region.

#Saudi Arabia sells 4 billion riyals of domestic #sukuk

Saudi Arabia's finance ministry sold 4.0 billion riyals ($1.1 billion) of domestic Islamic bonds in its monthly auction. The issuance is actually a re-opening of the issue originally made in July. The ministry sold 2.25 billion riyals of five-year sukuk, 500 million riyals of seven-year and 1.25 billion riyals of 10-year, bringing the total issue size to 7.465 billion riyals.

Hill International to Provide Project Management for Bank Aljazira Project, Supporting #Saudi Arabia National Vision 2030

Hill International has received a three-year contract from Bank Aljazira to provide project management services for Aljazira’s Regional Management Office Building in Riyadh. The project will be one of Riyadh’s landmarks, reflecting Bank Aljazira’s image and its alignment with the Saudi Arabia National Vision 2030. The project location is planned to be north of the Capital, in the center of new major developments for the next 20 years. Hill International provides program management, project management, construction management and other consulting services to clients in a variety of market sectors. According to Engineering News-Record magazine, Hill International is the eighth-largest construction management firm in the United States.

AUB in push for #merger with KFH

Bahrain’s largest lender Ahli United Bank (AUB) has announced that two investment banks are evaluating a potential merger with Kuwait Finance House (KFH). HSBC and Credit Suisse are currently undertaking necessary valuations studies to assist AUB and to arrive at a fair share exchange ratio. If a merger proceeds, the total assets of the two banks would be $90.57 billion, making it the sixth largest bank in the Gulf. The major shareholders in the two lenders are Kuwait state-owned entities. The Public Institution for Social Security owns 18.59% of AUB, while KFH's largest shareholder is the Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund, the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA).

ADGM’s aviation finance structure utilized in #sukuk issuance

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has facilitated the transaction of a 12 year Sukuk issued by Natixis and Noor Bank. It is the first instance where an ADGM structure has been used specifically to hold aircraft assets for issuing Sharia compliant bonds. The transaction follows the successful completion of the first aviation sale and leaseback transactions arranged by Natixis in ADGM in late 2016 and the registration of three international aviation leasing companies earlier this year. ADGM aims to position Abu Dhabi as an international aviation finance hub to deliver bespoke solutions for both Islamic and Conventional transactions.

#Qatari Islamic banks grow despite regional rift — IFSB data

Assets and revenues at Qatar's Islamic banks have grown over the past year, but an increase in problem loans and a drop in foreign currency lending underscore the impact of a diplomatic rift in the region. Qatar Islamic Bank, Masraf Al Rayan, Qatar International Islamic Bank and Barwa Bank held a combined 358.6 billion riyals (US$96 billion) in assets in the first quarter of this year, an 8.8% increase from a year earlier. Most of that increase was due to their holdings of Islamic bonds, which stood at 65.1 billion riyals in the first quarter, a 37.7% rise from a year ago. Capital adequacy and profitability measures were mostly unchanged, but foreign exchange financing decreased by 7%.

#UAE Startup Launches First-Ever Sharia-Compliant Islamic #Crypto Exchange

UAE-based Adab Solutions has announced the launch of the First Islamic Crypto Exchange (FICE). An in-house Sharia Advisory Board (SAB) made up of independent international Sharia experts will be in place to ensure that the exchange is in compliance with Sharia law. In April 2018, Mufti Muhammad Abu Bakar declared that bitcoin is Sharia-compliant, and as such can be used by Muslims. The move potentially opens the cryptocurrency space to a global market of over 1.8 billion Muslims. Adab Solutions is preparing to launch the project ICO in September and tokens will be used as utility keys to access the exchange platform’s services. All commissions within the FICE will be paid exclusively in Adab tokens.

#Qatari Banks May Reveal Merger Plan as Soon as This Week

Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar (IBQ) may announce plans to merge as early as this week. Combining Barwa and IBQ would partially salvage a proposed three-way merger with Masraf Al Rayan that was abandoned in June after 18 months of talks. That consolidation would have created the country’s largest Shariah-compliant bank and the Middle East’s third-biggest Islamic lender with more than 178 billion riyals ($49 billion) of assets. The smaller merger will create a lender with about 82 billion riyals in assets, the sixth-largest in the country. Each bank was valued around $1.8 billion in two separate share sales in 2014.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank gets nod for $270m rights issue

Shareholders of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) have approved proposal for a rights issue of AED1 billion ($270 million) by offering 464 million new shares. Shareholders also approved the issuance of a $750 million sukuk and the repayment of its $1 billion sukuk issued in 2012. Khamis Buharoon, ADIB vice chairman and acting CEO, said the bank will continue to focus on expanding its retail business, providing market-leading digital banking services, while capturing opportunities across corporate, transaction and correspondent banking. ADIB reported a 3% increase in net profit for the first half of 2018, which reached AED 1.16 billion.

#Bahrain's GFH Financial Group pays off $200m #sukuk

GFH Financial Group has paid the entire amount of its $200 million sukuk, which was originally drawn in 2007. The facility has now been settled with a recent payment of an outstanding amount of $34 million. With this repayment, GFH said it frees up further assets pledged under the sukuk for potential disposal or exit. In 2008, GFH had financing liabilities in excess of $1 billion compared to $125 million today. According to Chairman Jassim Al Seddiqi, with its prudent approach to managing liabilities, strong cash generation and levels of liquidity, GFH continues to be better placed than ever to deliver value and further build its business lines.

#Qatari issuers raise $19.97bn, lead GCC bonds and #sukuk market in H1

According to a recent report by Kuwait Financial Centre, Qatari issuers led the GCC aggregate bonds and sukuk market in the first half of this year, raising a total of $19.97bn. The report stated that the aggregate primary issuance of bonds and sukuk by GCC entities, including central banks’ local issuances, GCC sovereign and corporate issuances, totalled $95.25bn in H1, 2018, which represents a 9.64% increase on H1, 2017. Qatar raised $12bn and Kuwait was the only GCC sovereign entity not tapping the international bond markets in H1, 2018. Conventional issuances raised $50.17bn, or 80.19%, of the total amount raised in GCC bonds and sukuk market during H1, 2018. Sukuk raised $12.39bn, 30.84% lower compared to $17.93bn raised in H1, 2017 and represented a share of 19.81% of the market in H1 2018.

Abu Dhabi Investment Council increases Al Hilal Bank's capital

Abu Dhabi Investment Council has increased the share capital Al Hilal Bank by AED 400 million. Al Hilal Bank's CEO Alex Coelho said this move will allow the lender to meet the growing demand for Islamic finance by investing in areas with the greatest prospects. The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) raised this year’s economic growth forecast to 2.7% from its previous projection of 2.5% while non-oil GDP growth is forecast to increase to 3.9% this year from 3.4% in 2017.

Gulf grapples with ‘silent’ economic crisis

After years of strong economic growth, most of the economies of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) began to slow back in 2014. Major layoffs started soon after 2015, with major and minor employers shedding jobs. The cuts continued in 2016 and 2017, too. Most of those made redundant were non-natives and this has had an impact on the real estate sector. Dubai’s DAMAC announced this month that its second-quarter 2018 profits were down 46% year-on-year, while fellow developer Nakheel saw its profits dip 3.8% in the first six months of this year. Retail and tourism also felt the pinch, as the number of shoppers has dropped off. In Dubai there is a general fear in the emirate on speaking out about the economy, leading many to dub this the "silent crisis".

ADIB’s Shareholders approve ADIB’s capital proposal to support growth

Shareholders of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) have approved proposal for a rights issue of AED 1 billion to raise the Paid and Issued Share Capital through a tradeable rights issue of 464 million new shares. Shareholders also approved the issuance of USD 750 million (AED 2.75 billion) perpetual Tier 1 sukuk, and the repayment of its USD 1 billion (AED 3.67 billion) sukuk issued in 2012. The capital plan has been developed to support the bank’s continued growth and its objectives in achieving its strategy while meeting regulatory requirements.

Use of Ripple as a Cross-Border Solution Confirmed by #Kuwait Finance House (KFH)

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) is establishing the first blockchain-powered transaction system in the country. A series of questions arose when the formation of this system was announced. KFH has itself confirmed that they are using Ripple’s cross-border solutions to complete the blockchain-based transaction. KFH also conveyed that they would soon be joining RippleNet, which they initially announced back in May. This would enable them to become an active part of the ever-growing blockchain technology ecosystem. While neighboring Saudi Arabia may have banned cryptocurrency trading, it is obvious that Kuwait welcomes the underlying technology of virtual currencies.

#Saudi’s Al Rajhi Bank says expat exodus could impact its remittance business

Al Rajhi Bank expects low-single digit loan growth for the rest of 2018 as it curtails its loans while economic reforms take shape. A plan to reduce reliance on expatriates to generate jobs for Saudis has seen the number of foreign workers fall by more than 700,000 since last year. Al Rajhi's CEO Steve Bertamini said the expatriate exodus might have some impact on its remittance business. The bank has already seen an overall rise in banking for women and car loans for women have begun to rise substantially from a low base. Bertamini said that their entry into the workforce will mean more demand for accounts, loans and saving products.

Abu Dhabi National #Takaful Co. PSC announces combined net profit of AED 48.6 million for H1 2018 achieving a growth of 19% in profit

Abu Dhabi National Takaful Co. PSC (ADNTC) released its financial results as at end of second quarter on 30 June 2018. The company announced a combined net profit of AED 48.6 million, achieving a growth of 19% compared to AED 41 million for the same period last year. The technical profit reached AED 60 million showing an increase of 9% compared to AED 55.2 and the underwriting profit reached AED 36.4 million showing an increase of 6% compared to AED 34.2 million for the same period last year. According to CEO Osama Abdel Raouf Abdeen, the underwriting profit of AED 36.4 million for the first half of 2018 is an indication of the company's credibility as the leading takaful operator in the region.

#Kuwait’s Warba Bank receives licence to conduct securities activities

Warba Bank has obtained licence from the Capital Market Authority (CMA) to engage in certain securities activities. The new licence allows the lender to conduct activities like investment portfolio manager, collective investment scheme manager as well as investment manager, subscription agent and custodian.

Creating footsteps in Kuwait’s Islamic banking sector

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) has embarked on a digital transformation journey. Kuwait and Bahrain have each launched their respective digital banking platforms and soon, Malaysia will have its own. By the end of 2018, a seamless digital customer experience is expected to be publicly available. In Malaysia the KFH is active in the infrastructure financing front, supporting the third light rail transport system (LRT 3) and the second Mass Rapid Transit (MRT 2) projects through the provision of Islamic financing facilities. The project is expected to benefit the local communities through the promotion of real estate developments around the proposed train stations. Furthermore, the project is expected to generate more than 2,000 jobs during the construction phase.

How Lombard Odier got into the Islamic investment space

Lombard Odier has launched a full suite of Shari’ah-compliant investment solutions. Arnaud Leclercq, Limited Partner at Lombard Odier Group, said the offering began as a bespoke creation for one client six years ago, it has grown from a $10 million to in the hundreds of millions, primarily for investors in the Middle East. The investments are a mix between Sukuk and equities. Equities are chosen using a combination of MSCI’s Islamic Index and Lombard Odier’s inhouse experts. The goal is to reach $1 billion in total Islamic investment the next three to five years. Lombard Odier plans to increase its presence in the Middle East, with an office in Abu Dhabi for the coming year currently in the planning stages and a partnership with a Saudi firm currently in the works.

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