GCC

Dana Gas bid to void #debt stuns analysts who question motive

The gas producer's decision to declare its own Shariah-compliant bonds unlawful has baffled investors all over the world. Sharjah-based Dana Gas said it no longer considered its two Islamic bonds totalling $700 million issued four years ago as Shariah compliant under UAE law. The move comes after Dana Gas announced plans in May to restructure the debt. The company is owed about $1 billion from Egypt and the self-governed Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Dana Gas plans to replace the current sukuk with four-year bonds paying less than half of the current profit rates and without a conversion feature. The Sharjah Federal Court of First Instance has issued an injunction while it considers Dana Gas’s application. Dana Gas said it won’t pay its next two profit distributions on July 31 and Oct. 31, and that they will be accounted for as part of the new instrument.

IIRA maintains ratings of #Bahrain Islamic Bank

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed ratings of Bahrain Islamic Bank (BIsB) at BBB/A2 on the national scale and BBB-/A3 on the international scale. IIRA added that the bank’s rating outlook is constrained by the macroeconomic environment and tougher industry conditions for banks in the Gulf. Given the presence of external, regional concerns, the outlook on international scale ratings is assessed as Negative. Impairment in recent financings remains minimal, indicating improvement in the bank's business underwriting capability. However, overall asset quality concerns remain notable. IIRA has assigned BIsB a Fiduciary Score of 71-75, which signifies that the rights of various stakeholders are adequately protected.

#UAE's Dana Gas invites #sukuk holders to a call to discuss sukuk's "unlawfulness"

Abu Dhabi's Dana Gas has invited holders of its outstanding $700 million sukuk to discuss the planned sukuk restructuring. The energy company plans to provide background on its declaration of the current sukuk's "unlawfulness". Dana Gas announced last week that its sukuk were not sharia-compliant and were therefore unlawful in the UAE.

Islamic finance overcomes teething problems in #Oman

According to a recent report issued by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), the Islamic banking industry is growing at a faster rate than conventional banking, with Islamic banking assets up more than 62% year on year. Total assets held by Islamic banks and Islamic banking windows in February 2017 amounted to 3.27 billion Omani riyals (Dh31.2 billion), compared to 2.43 billion riyals a year earlier. This took Islamic banking’s market share from 5.1% in 2015 to 10.8% by February 2017. Islamic banking has a sizeable market share of more than 25% in the GCC. Saudi Arabia dominates the region with an Islamic banking market share of 51.2% in terms of total banking assets, followed by Kuwait at 45.2%. In UAE, Qatar and Bahrain Islamic banks’ market share stood between 20-30% of gross assets. In Oman, within a span of four years from introduction, the Islamic banking segment has reached OMR 3.07 billion in gross assets with a market share of 10.8% as of February 2017. The two main players in Oman are Bank Nizwa (BKNZ) and Alizz Islamic Bank (BKIZ).

Mideast Debt: Islamic finance industry frets as Dana Gas deems its #sukuk invalid

The decision by Dana Gas to declare $700 million of its sukuk invalid has raised concern about the safety of sharia-compliant debt instruments in general. Dana Gas received advice that its sukuk were not compliant with the Islamic sharia code and had become unlawful in the United Arab Emirates. The firm said it would halt payments and proposed that creditors exchange the sukuk for new Islamic instruments. Dana has struggled to obtain payments from its production assets in Egypt and Iraq's Kurdistan. With a cash balance of just $298 million in March, it had been expected to have difficulty redeeming its sukuk in October. Mohammed Khnifer, a senior associate at the Islamic Development Bank, said this specific sharia compliance risk was unprecedented and this incident had startled the Islamic finance industry.

#Saudi Arabia's Sedco Capital launches #green #investment strategy

Saudi Arabia's Sedco Capital has launched an investment strategy combining environment-conscious and sharia-compliant principles. The move could help develop green investing in the Middle East and make Islamic finance appeal to a wider client base. Green finance is increasingly important for Islamic firms seeking to differentiate themselves from peers. Sedco said its new strategy, dubbed Prudent Ethical Investing, would focus on due diligence and transparency around investment structures, while integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. The firm launched two ESG funds in 2012 and has published research which showed how a combined investment approach
can outperform conventional funds. According to its research, such a strategy can lead to investments with lower financial leverage and better cash conversion qualities, adding a prudential element to those portfolios.

Abu Dhabi builds a '#fintech bridge' to Asia

Abu Dhabi is taking ambitious steps to tap into financial technology. The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) signed a cooperation deal with the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The goal of the arrangement is to spur financial entrepreneurship through mutual exchanges of fintech know-how. Last November the ADGM launched the FinTech Regulatory Laboratory, or RegLab, to provide a platform for foreign players to innovate. So far five companies have been selected to participate. Richard Teng, CEO of the emirate's Financial Services Regulatory Authority, said there was a clear trend toward cultivating sectors besides oil and the cooperation with Singapore is designed to make fintech the driving force of economic diversification. In his view, Asian financial companies have a big market in the Middle East to develop and explore business in wealth management, remittances and other fields.

#Qatar has ninth-strongest Islamic finance industry

The state of Qatar lists rank nine this year on the annually published Islamic Finance Country Index. The index is part of the Global Islamic Finance Report 2017 and was compiled by London-based Islamic finance consultant firm Edbiz Consulting. Qatar’s ranking is testament to its solid Islamic finance industry which is built upon solely fully-fledged Islamic banks. The country with the world’s strongest Islamic finance industry remains Malaysia, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. This is the second year in a row that Malaysia has been in the top position, taking over from Iran in 2016. According to Edbiz CEO Sofiza Azmi, in the list of 48 countries, there are 14 that saw a decrease in their scores. Among the 13 countries that improved their ranking, Tunisia took the biggest leap. Other big gainers are Pakistan and Kazakhstan. The report concludes that the ranking suggests that countries with large Muslim populations are the future frontiers for growth in Islamic banking and finance.

BRIEF-Al Izz Islamic Bank expresses interest in #merger with United Finance

Alizz Islamic Bank has expressed interest in the possibility of strategic merger with United Finance subject to conducting due diligence. No legally binding commitment has been made and the transaction remains subject to approval by the regulators and other stakeholders.

Oman's $2bn international #sukuk oversubscribed more than three times

Oman's inaugural US2bn international sukuk issuance witnessed a strong investor interest with an orderbook of US6.9bn and over 300 participating accounts. Oman entered the international public sukuk markets via a US2bn seven year sukuk issuance on May 23. The current sukuk follows a US5bn multi-tranche bond priced earlier this year. According to a press release, the final order book represented an oversubscription of nearly three times. The issuance was coordinated by a lead manager group comprising of alizz islamic bank, Citi, Dubai Islamic Bank, Gulf International Bank, JP Morgan, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. With this issuance the sultanate has now met significant portion of the funding requirements tied to its anticipated budget deficit for 2017.

#Dubai: #Meraas Holding has #issued $400 million #sukuk –sources

Meraas Holding, a real estate developer in Dubai owned by the UEA government, issued a $400 million sukuk last week. It was sold privately to a select group of investors, according to sources. The Islamic bond has a five-year maturity and is at par with a 5.112 % yield on May the 26th and traded at one to 1.5 points above par shortly after that. Emirates NBD, Noor Bank and Standard Chartered jointly coordinated the transaction and served as bookrunners along with Dubai Islamic Bank, Sharjah Islamic Bank and Warba Bank.
Meraas is the parent company of the leisure and entertainment company DXB Entertainment, which owns 4 theme parks and a water park in UAE capital. It has been said, that a new entity has been set up which will manage billions of dollars of development projects for Meraas Holding and Dubai Holding. Dubai Holding is the investment vehicle of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. Raed Kajoor Al Nuaimi, formerly chief executive of DXB Entertainment, has been appointed to lead the new management company.

#Emirates #NBD #launches Emirates NBD Markit iBoxx USD #Sukuk #Index

The new Index will contain 98 Sukuk from 61 issuers that will have a current market value of over $90 billion. The Emirates NBD Markit iBoxx USD Sukuk index captures sovereign, sub-sovereign and corporate Sukuk from emerging and developed markets and will contain investment grade, sub investment grade and unrated securities. They will all offer a broad representation of the global Sukuk universe and provide combining transparency, multi-dimensional analysis, independence and flexibility, it will provide an accurate and objective benchmark for Islamic finance investors.
Developed by Emirates NBD Group in collaboration with IHS Markit, the Emirates NBD Markit iBoxx USD Sukuk Index is a market-cap weighted index dedicated to capturing the performance of the Sukuk market. It will be used for benchmarking, risk and performance analysis and as an underlying for tradable products. In order to meet the growing demand for Shari'ah-compliant solutions, it is envisaged that the Index will be utilised by a range of institutions including asset managers, banks, pensions and sovereign wealth funds and ETF issuers.

#Dana Gas #venture #seeks #$26.5b damages from #Iraq Kurds

Dana Gas and its partners are looking at recovery for damages of at least $26.5 billion from Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region for all delays in oil and natural gas projects. Dana Gas is based in the UAE and its partners in the venture named Pearl Petroleum, filed a petition in May at a federal court in Washington, DC, seeking “recognition and enforcement” of awards in a London arbitration case. The petition is part of a legal process that may allow Pearl Petroleum to seize Kurdish assets if the Kurds don’t pay awards decided in arbitration.
According to the Kurdish Energie Minister stated, the Kurdistan Regional Government “considers that the claimants’ approach in the arbitration is unconstructive and unnecessarily escalates the dispute. It will continue vigorously to pursue its rights and defend its position in all appropriate forums.”
Dana Gas and partners are pursuing claims in the London Court of International Arbitration against the Kurdish Regional Government for damages related to delays they say were caused by the Government in developing the projects.

#Dubai strategy centre for #Islamic #finance close to its #goals

A strategy centre that was tasked to implement a strategy for Dubai to become a global hub for the Islamic economy can report that progress was made on about 75 % of its initiatives to this date.
The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, that was set up in 2013, stated yesterday it had held a board meeting on Tuesday which was attended by Sultan Al ¬Mansouri, the Minister of Economy as well as the chairman of the centre, to discuss these achievements.
The centre identified key sectors for developing three segments of Dubai‘s Islamic economy: Islamic finance, halal products and Islamic lifestyle including culture, art, fashion and family tourism.
The minister said: "Dubai and the UAE are instrumental in raising awareness about the culture of Islamic economy worldwide and boosting global interest in adopting its principles. The Islamic economy ¬strategy adopted by Dubai and the wider UAE is truly unique in its ability to foresee economic changes, offer secure investment options and utilise bonds to finance major projects across the globe."

#Oman's Islamic banking assets reach RO3.3bn

Total assets of Islamic banks and windows in Oman reached to RO3.3bn at the end of March 2017. This accounts for 10.8% of total banking system assets in the country. According to Central Bank of Oman (CBO) statistics, Islamic banking entities provided total financing of RO2.6bn as at the end of March 2017 compared to RO1.9bn a year ago. Total deposits held with Islamic banks and windows also registered a strong growth to reach RO2.4bn in March 2017 from RO1.7bn in March 2016. The statistical bulletin said the financial position of the banks in Oman in terms of asset quality, provision coverage, capital adequacy and profitability remained sound. The gross non-performing loans as a proportion of total loans and advances stood at 2.1% at the end of December 2016. Private sector deposits, which accounted for 66.1% of total deposits with conventional banks, increased by 4.6% to RO12.6bn in March 2017 from RO12bn a year ago.

STC Establishes Venture Capital #Fund

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has decided to form a $500 million venture capital fund to develop digital innovation in the region. During a news conference in Riyadh, STC CEO Khaled Biyari said the huge growth of e-commerce in Saudi Arabia represents an additional value to the expected success of the new fund. He stressed that Saudi Arabia has ambitious youths who have entered the field of e-commerce and the digital sector and achieved success. STC Ventures CEO Abdulrahman Tarabzouni said that the first investments of the new fund will be launched in the first quarter of 2017.

Financial sustainability imperative to supporting Awqafs

Waqf or the plural, Awqaf, provides funding towards initiatives that promote social and community welfare. Due to various reasons, Waqf had gradually become less popular, but it has now re-emerged as a beneficial force of good within society. In the UAE, a General Waqf Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments has been set up by government to coordinate Waqf institutions. The future growth of Awqafs require them to be managed in a sustainable way, that is to run them as modern financial institutions. A lot of Awqaf organisations in the UAE invest in properties and some have surplus liquidity. As a result, today Awqafs are also tapping the capital markets and there are various initiatives to issue Sukuks backed by Waqf land for mosques, schools and orphanages.

KFH Said in Talks for #Bahrain Ahli United Bank, Kuwait Unit

Kuwait Finance House is in talks to buy Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank in a deal that would create one of the Middle East’s largest Islamic lenders with $85 billion of assets. However, there is no guarantee that a deal will take place and final agreements haven’t been reached yet. Lower oil prices are forcing Gulf lenders to consolidate for scale. Abu Dhabi lenders National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank recently merged to create a regional powerhouse with $175 billion of assets. Qatar’s Masraf Al Rayan is planning to combine with unlisted Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar to create the country’s largest Islamic lender. Ahli United in Bahrain declined to comment. KFH shares have lost 0.6% so far this year, giving the lender a market value of $9.3 billion. Ahli United shares have jumped 16% so far this year, giving it a $5.57 billion market capitalization.

#Oman tightens price on $2bn #sukuk amid rush of orders

Oman's $2bn sukuk sale lured orders for more than three times the issue size. The sultanate set final terms on its seven year sukuk at 235 basis points over the mid-swap rate, from initial guidance of about 270 basis points. Landesbank Berlin Investor Lutz Roehmeyer said there was a good demand and now a rush to get an allocation with accepting even less yield. Alizz islamic bank, Citigroup, Dubai Islamic Bank, Gulf International Bank, HSBC Holdings, JPMorgan Chase and Standard Chartered are managing the deal. The country's last foray into international debt markets was a $5bn three part offering of dollar bonds in March.

#Kuwait's Noor to Weigh Stake Sale of #Pakistan's Meezan Bank

#Kuwait’s Noor Financial Investment is considering the sale of its 49% stake in Pakistan’s largest Islamic lender Meezan Bank. The stake has a market value of about $396 million at the current market price, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Noor Financial hired advisers to assess opportunities, but it has not tasked the consultants with either increasing or decreasing its stake in Meezan Bank. Shares in Noor Financial gained 5.9% by 12:30 p.m. in Safat, Kuwait, the highest since April 16. Meezan advanced 3.6% in Karachi trading to a record high.

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