GCC

Tapping the Islamic banking potential in Africa

Africa represents a huge untapped market for Islamic Banking. The demand for Sharia-compliant products in Africa has been growing for both Muslims and non-Muslims. Most countries such as Senegal, Uganda, Morocco, Kenya, Gambia and Nigeria have already reformed banking laws to allow the setting up of Islamic institutions. While there is a large demand for Islamic Banking, the availability of Islamic Wealth Management Products is still relatively small, leaving a large opportunity for UAE banks. At Noor Bank, for example, each international client is assigned a dedicated relationship manager and customer service officer. Going forward, the African market holds great potential for the UAE Banking sector. Latest forecasts indicate that Africa’s GDP will grow to 3.7% in 2018, according to the African Development Bank.

An example of the risk to international investors from local country legal regimes

The Dana Gas sukuk case illustrates the dangers of local country courts favouring domestic companies. Wherever possible, international investors should avoid local law. The most commonly used is English law, even for commercial arrangements that have nothing to do with the UK, because English law is well-developed and English courts have a deserved reputation for legal competence and impartiality. Dana Gas raised money from international investors by issuing sukuk. The money so raised was invested in a mudarabah agreement with Dana Gas, written under UAE law. Dana Gas also entered into a purchase undertaking, written under English law. Under UAE law, sukuk investors would have been sunk, having to litigate about whether the commercial arrangements were or were not Shariah compliant. However, they were saved by the purchase undertaking being under English law.

Chief executive of #Saudi-based ICD departs

The chief executive of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) has stepped down to take a role with the Saudi government. Khaled Al-Aboodi joined the ICD in 2001 and took over as chief executive officer in 2007. Starting next month, he will join the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co (SALIC) as Managing Director. The ICD has appointed Mohammed Al Ammari to lead the multilateral body on an interim basis, until a new chief executive is selected. As the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank, the ICD is tasked with supporting economic development across its 53 member countries.

#Saudi developer plans debut #sukuk for social housing

Saudi developer Salman Abdullah Bin Saedan Real Estate Group is planning a debut sukuk issuance in the coming months. Proceeds from the sukuk would be used for Saedan’s social housing projects, which aim to address a shortage of affordable residential properties in Saudi Arabia. The $1 billion sukuk programme will be set up by Ibdar Bank, which was formed in 2013 through a three-way merger of smaller Islamic lenders. The bank's Director of Capital Markets Ikbal Daredia said the sukuk programme would be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange with a possible listing on Nasdaq Dubai. Ibdar Bank aims to bring on board one or two international banks and regional partners as joint lead managers for the deal.

#UAE ranked third for Islamic #Fintech start-ups

According to a survey by Bloomberg Intelligence, the UAE is ranked third in an analysis of Islamic Fintech start-ups. The analysis finds that tailored regulation and clarity on rules could aid the small and medium-sized Fintech outlook. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer (P2P) financing could be a game-changer in Islamic finance, giving potential to close the gap for small and medium enterprises. The analysis suggests that new opportunities to invest in gold, integrated by Islamic Fintech blockchain technology, may revive its appeal and lift demand. Development of Shariah-complaint, gold-backed products following the introduction of the Shariah Gold Standard, may encourage investors to place their money in gold. The analysis also noted that the Islamic Financial Services Board has predicted that Shariah-complaint assets will expand by 261% compared to the 2015 figure, to represent US$ 6.5 trillion by 2020.

#Saudi nationals warned against investments in #cryptocurrencies

Saudi nationals have been warned against embarking on hazardous investments in cryptocurrencies. According to the Capital Market Authority, there is no monetary oversight inside Saudi Arabia over digital currencies which involve high risks. It warned that digital currencies expose investors to speculative bubbles, loss of capital, fraud, high market volatility, cyber hacking and lack of transparent evaluative regulations. The Capital Market Authority also said that it would be difficult to protect investors as Saudi Arabia has no oversight on the digital currency.

#Debt can be a cause, a symptom of serious mental ill-health in #UAE

Nearly 5% of the UAE'S population is struggling with depression and it is expats that are hit the hardest. One of the most common side effects of stress incurred by debt was headaches. A study by The Priory Group found that young adults were suffering significantly from aches and pains caused by debt. The cost of buying or renting property, divorce, commuting and holiday costs, childcare, school fees and the rising cost of living generally can easily overwhelm, leaving people stressed out about money. According to psychologist Tanya Dharamshi, debt can arise from impulse control problems that can result in excessive behaviours, such as shopping, especially when it's online. Because there are creditors involved, money issues can exacerbate the symptoms of depression or anxiety. This may lead to alcohol or drug misuse and further abuse of the impulse control problem. Breaking that vicious circle is a major challenge in recovery.

The Spirit of Innovation: #Fintech is Booming in #UAE

In this interview HE Younis Haji Al Khoori, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Finance (MoF), talks about the country's innovation strategy and fintech environment. Through this strategy, MoF aspires to showcase its innovation projects like the Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund, which grants access to affordable financing solutions. In addition, MoF offers its employees comprehensive skills-building and training programmes. 2017 has seen fintech enter the popular consciousness. The rise of Bitcoin, developments in mobile payment technology and the introduction of Blockchain have pushed the sector’s growth. The UAE can consolidate its leading position in the fintech sector by developing cutting edge business infrastructure and providing accessible funding through funds and incubators.

Emirates airline selling #sukuk to raise $1 billion

Emirates airline has mandated eight banks to manage its latest sukuk sale. Among these banks are HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, BNP Paribas, Emirates NBD, Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Noor Bank. The issue will raise about $1 billion in the next few weeks. Emirates will be seeking funding from international bond markets as the US interest rates are expected to increase and with them borrowing costs as well. Emirates usually raises funding each year from diverse sources: commercial loans, operating leases and export credit agency backed facilities. In 2015, the Dubai-based firm sold a bond when it raised $913 million from a 10-year sukuk, guaranteed by the UK’s export-finance agency, to help pay for four Airbus A380-800s.

Dubai theme park operator in talks to restructure $326.7 mln #loan

Dubai's Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari Group (IMG) is in talks with banks to restructure a 1.2 billion-dirham ($326.7 million) syndicated loan. The group is now looking to upsize its existing loan facility due to cost overruns. The loan taken in 2014 was used for corporate debt and to build the Worlds of Adventure theme park. IMG opened it in August 2016, with a total area in excess of 1.5 million square feet and the capacity to accommodate more than 20,000 visitors every day. According to IMG, the upsizing of the facility was linked to a cost overrun on the pre-opening of the theme park and not due to visitor numbers. However, bankers said one reason for the talks was low footfalls. The company is close to reaching an agreement with creditors and extending the loan maturity. In return, additional covenants would be put in place to allow banks to monitor the company’s financial situation better.

#Saudi Arabia Weighing ‘Soft’ #Crypto #Regulation

Saudi Arabia is watching the cryptocurrency market closely. According to Mohammed ElKuwaiz, chairman of Saudi Arabia's Capital Markets Authority, the authority is still evaluating the appropriate response and some regulations might be coming soon. However, the regulator comments indicate we should not expect any ban on cryptocurrencies. This is because the local Bitcoin craze has not reached the proportions seen in China or South Korea. There are several cryptocurrency-oriented companies that provide services in the kingdom. Before imposing any regulations, Saudi Arabia would like to see how the new markets behave, so it has left the door open for pilot projects from startups that operate with emerging technologies. Local regulators have initiated a sandbox program to facilitate such activities.

London court again finds for creditors in Dana Gas #sukuk dispute

A London High Court judge again ruled in favour of creditors in a dispute over whether Dana Gas must repay $700mln sukuk. Judge George Leggatt rejected an attempt by the company to overturn his decision last November that the purchase undertaking behind the sukuk was valid and enforceable. There was no immediate comment from Dana.

Dubai Islamic Bank issues $1 billion senior unsecured #Sukuk

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has announced the successful pricing of $1 billion Sukuk issued with a five-year tenor. The issuance carries a profit rate of 3.625% and is the first dollar benchmark Sukuk transaction from the GCC in 2018. The orderbook was driven by strong demand across the globe, including Middle East, Europe, Asia and North America, and across a broad spectrum of investors base. According to DIB's Group CEO Dr. Adnan Chilwan, the strong investor interest demonstrates not only the continued attraction of DIB, but also the resilience of the Sukuk market in general. Bank ABC, Dubai Islamic Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, J.P.Morgan, KFH Capital, Sharjah Islamic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank acted as Joint Lead Managers and Joint Bookrunners while Union National Bank and Boubyan Bank acted as Co-Managers on the offering.

First Abu Dhabi Bank mandates banks for dollar #sukuk - sources

First Abu Dhabi Bank has appointed banks to lead a U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk issue. Citi, First Abu Dhabi Bank, KFH Capital, NCB Capital and Standard Chartered will lead the deal, which has a five-year tenor. The sukuk is expected to be of benchmark size, which generally means upwards of $500 million. The bank, formed by a merger of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank, is tapping the sukuk market to diversify its funding sources. The planned debt sale would be part of the bank's $2.5 billion sukuk programme.

Investor appetite for Gulf Arab bonds remains high: experts

The market for Gulf Arab bonds and Sukuk achieved an all-time high issuance of 70 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, with sustained investor appetite expected in 2018. A recent study titled "The GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) Fixed Income Market: Then and Now," said that 70% of all debt and Sukuk issuances were from sovereigns, while 30% were from corporations. The study was conducted by Emirates NBD and Swiss portfolio management firm Fisch Asset Management. Regarding the outlook for 2018, increased debt issuance could continue in the region despite elevated geopolitical instability. According to Usman Ahmed, Head of Investments at Emirates NBD, growth of the GCC's debt investor base is expected to continue in 2018, with demand coming from the record inflows to emerging markets and supply provided by the diversification needs of the region.

#Bahraini bank plans aggressive #expansion in #Pakistan

Bahrain-based Ithmaar Bank plans to add more than 100 branches in Pakistan this year through its subsidiary Faysal Bank. Ithmaar's deputy CEO Abdul Hakeem al-Mutawa says banking penetration is less than 20% in Pakistan, so there are good opportunities to grow. Ithmaar Bank's parent company, Ithmaar Holding, listed recently on the Dubai Financial Market. Al-Mutawa believes the company is well established now to approach the capital markets and the bank has no imminent plans to raise funds through a bond or loan. Ithmaar Holding is also exploring the sale of its 25.4% stake in Bahrain's BBK, which has operations in Bahrain, Kuwait, India and Dubai. Al-Mutawa declined to comment on the timeframe for the disposal of the BBK stake.

#UAE-based real estate investment trust completes $210m deals

UAE-based Residential REIT has completed new property transactions worth AED772 million ($210.1 million). The deals were closed with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Arcapita and an unnamed large Saudi institution. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank has contributed 165 residential units located in three buildings in Marina Square on Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi. Arcapita and the Saudi institution have contributed three buildings with a total of 285 residential units located in Saadiyat Beach Residences on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Following the new acquisitions, the Residential REIT's portfolio includes a total of 1,069 units across Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai.

#Saudi SEDCO Capital launches #REIT Fund

Saudi SEDCO Capital announced the offering of its first Shariah-compliant real estate investment traded fund SEDCO Capital REIT. The fund will be offered to the general public through an initial public offer during the period of Jan. 24 to Feb. 6. With an occupancy rate of over 92%, SEDCO Capital’s real estate portfolio has grown to include seven assets across various geographical regions. According to CEO Hasan Al-Jabri, SEDCO Capital Real Estate Income Fund targets to generate an initial net yield of 7% through the acquisition of additional assets and by utilizing capital. To facilitate the offering period, three receiving entities were appointed for investors to subscribe, these include NCB, Al Rajhi Bank and Samba Financial Group.

CIBAFI and The World Bank presenting study on "Corporate Governance Practices in Islamic banks 2017"

It is well established that good corporate governance strengthens institutions and financial sectors, and in so
doing contributes to building strong economies and economic growth.

Deficiencies in corporate governance were among the factors that contributed to the global financial crisis
(GFC) of 2007–08. As a result, global standard setters such as the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision
(BCBS) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have been updating and
strengthening their guidelines on good governance practices.

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), which sets standards for Islamic financial institutions, published its
Guiding Principles on Corporate Governance in 2006 as its standard IFSB-3. The Principles address, within the
context of corporate governance, the distinct features of Islamic banks, such as the different relationship that
they have with some of their stakeholders.

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The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) Signs Memorandum of Understanding with JANA to Test New Banking Model

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with JANA Bena'a Productive Families of Saudi Arabia in order to test a new banking model named Biniog Sathi. The MOU was singed by Khaled Al-Aboodi, the CEO of ICD and Mohammed Al Khamis, Chairman of JANA Bena'a Productive Families. The new banking model will resolve the problem of credit default in the banking industry with the help of Zakat and Sadaqa. JANA Bena'a Productive Families Centre provides interest free loans to support women in starting their own businesses.

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