GCC

Supporting Islamic #fintech’s growth

In this interview Ayman Sejiny, CEO of Ibdar Bank, talks about founding the Bahrain Fintech Bay. Bahrain Fintech Bay (BFB) is working to build a fintech ecosystem that will support industry growth and position Bahrain as a regional fintech hub. Sejiniy believes that the days of 'e-banking' are nearly over and the shift to mainstream digital finance is becoming a reality. Ibdar is an early adopter, transforming its organisation into a fully digitised Islamic Investment Firm for the Global Islamic Digital Economy (GIDE). Ibdar bank provides opportunities in aviation, real estate, Sukuk and investment funds. The bank is also expanding its services to include an array of Investment Advisory services.

Mortgages set to boost lending at #Saudi banking giant Al Rajhi

A jump in mortgages and a recovery in Saudi Arabia’s economy may help Al Rajhi Bank to reverse a decline in lending. According to CEO Steve Bertamini, higher government spending and faster economic growth amid higher oil prices should help the revival. Home loans have risen as much as 6% this year and there are 450,000 Saudis eligible to purchase a home under one of the government programs. Saudi Arabia’s new housing project announced in February includes an 18 billion riyal ($4.8 billion) loan-guarantee program to boost access to funding and 12.5 billion riyals to support down-payments. Al Rajhi Bank in July reported an 18% rise in second-quarter profit to 2.57 billion riyals. According to Bloomberg economists, Saudi Arabia’s economic expansion will accelerate to 1.6% this year from 0.9% in 2017.

#Saudi refinance firm mulls #Sukuk issuance to fund mortgage drive

The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC) plans to begin issuing sukuk in late September or early October 2018. SRC aims to refinance 20% of Saudi Arabia's primary home loans market, which authorities hope to expand to SAR 500 billion by 2020. Currently Saudi Arabia’s primary home loans stands at SAR 290 billion. Fabrice Susini, CEO of Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company, said that the company will now begin issuing Sukuk to raise money, first in Saudi riyals but eventually in foreign currencies. The company was founded in 2017 by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and has so far operated with financing from the sovereign wealth fund and short-term deals with banks.

AAOIFI adoption set to standardise #UAE Islamic finance

The Central Bank of the UAE announced that the country's Islamic finance industry will be required to comply with AAOIFI Shariah standards from September 1. Islamic finance products in the UAE have historically adhered to AAOIFI standards, but the formal move to adopt AAOIFI standards will benefit the Islamic finance industry not only in the UAE. According to Dar Al Sharia CEO Mian Nazir, this move will facilitate standardisation of the Islamic finance industry across markets. These regulations are expected to grow consumer confidence and benefit the sukuk market as well. Dar Al Sharia is holding workshops to help relevant stakeholders, from internal Shariah control committee members to lawyers, develop an understanding of AAOIFI’s Shariah standards.

Dana Gas issues new #sukuk, drawing earlier dispute to a close

Dana Gas has completed refinancing its $700 million sukuk which has been sized down to $530m. The issuance of the debt instrument had been completed and listed on the Euronext Dublin, previously known as the Irish Stock Exchange. Dana has paid $235m in redemptions, profit payments and early participation fees bringing an end to its long legal battle. Dana Gas CEO Patrick Allman-Ward said the new sukuk represented a fair consensual deal for all sukuk holders. The new sukuk will have a three-year life, maturing in October 2020, with a new profit rate of 4% per annum. Legal proceedings in courts in the UK and UAE have been brought to an end by all parties. Last month, Dana Gas received about $44m in dividends from Kurdistan Region of Iraq for the first half of the year and expected its output from operations there to rise by 25% in the third quarter.

Saudi-based ITFC, Federated Investors to launch $300 mln trade finance #fund

The Saudi-based International Islamic Trade Finance Corp (ITFC) plans to launch a $300 million fund alongside U.S. fund manager Federated Investors. The sharia-compliant fund is expected to launch later this year and would invest in energy-related structured trade, supply chain financing and project finance assets of sovereign entities. The fund will be managed by ITFC with input from Federated Investors. The two firms have worked together on Islamic trade finance transactions since 2014.

Awqaf And Minors Affairs Foundation Adopts #Endowments Investment Policy 2018-2021

The Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) has adopted a three-year Endowments Investment Policy. The board meeting was attended by senior board members who reviewed the achievements of AMAF’s newly appointed Charity Work Committee, Investment Committee, and Endowment Development Committee. In addition, it also reviewed the executive regulations of the Dubai Waqf Law No. 14 of 2017 (Dubai Waqf Law) and Dubai Law No. 9 of 2007 establishing Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation. The Charity Work Committee presented the financial budget for charitable work in 2018, which has exceeded AED74 million to date. Philanthropic projects during the Year of Zayed included the voucher initiative for needy families worth AED700,000, the AED150,000 Umrah initiative, and the AED450,000 Fund for Cancer Patients. AMAF also joined the project of "Modon Al Khair" to contribute AED500,000 towards the construction of homes for low-income people.

#Saudi Arabia’s first #sukuk issuance through primary dealers positive for Islamic capital market development

Saudi Arabia announced the completion of its first sukuk issuance under the primary dealers program. The Saudi government has been a regular issuer of Islamic bonds since the Ministry of Finance established a Saudi riyal-denominated sukuk program last year. In the new primary-dealer system, the Saudi debt management office appointed five local banks to act as primary dealers for local government securities, namely National Commercial Bank, Samba Financial Group, Saudi British Bank, Bank Al-Jazira and Alinma Bank. The appointed primary dealers purchase sukuk sold at auction directly from the government and later place these securities in the secondary market for final investors, acting as market makers for government securities. The government expects that the primary-dealers scheme will develop the local government sukuk market and the debt capital markets in Saudi Arabia.

Islamic Banks' Assets Surge To AED565 Billion In H1 2018

Assets of Islamic banks operating in the UAE amounted to AED565 billion by the end of H1 2018, a 6.7% growth of AED35.5 billion over the corresponding period in 2017. The assets of Islamic banks account for 20.55% of total bank assets in UAE, valued at AED2.749 trillion, by the end of June 2018. The value of credit provided by Islamic Banks during the first half of the year surged to AED367 billion, a growth of 5% against the same period in 2017. Loans and credit facilities provided by Islamic banks made up 22.6% of total loans. Deposits held by Islamic banks amounted to AED392.4 billion, making up 23.3% of total deposits held by UAE banks, estimated at around AED1.7 trillion by the end of June.

Physical Gold #Fund SP announces Shariah compliance

Physical Gold Fund SP (PGF) has been endorsed as Shariah-compliant by Amanie Advisors. Amanie Advisors issued the fatwa in accordance with the Shariah Standard on Gold set by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and developed in cooperation with the World Gold Council. According to Alex Stanczyk, managing director of Physical Gold Fund SP, this fund is unique in the Mena region and is a perfect fit for the values expected by Islamic investors.

BRIEF-#Qatar Islamic #Insurance Receives C.Bank Nod To Change Name

Qatar Islamic Insurance Company received central bank approval to change its name to Group Islamic Insurance Company. The company also received approval from the central bank to establish a real estate company owned 100 percent by the group.

GCC bonds, #sukuk issuance rises by 10 per cent

The aggregate primary issuance of bonds and sukuk by GCC entities increased by 9.64 per cent to $95.25 billion in first half of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017.

GFH fully settles $200m #sukuk

Gulf Finance House (GFH) has fully settled its $200 million (Dh734 million) sukuk, which was originally drawn in 2007. The facility, which had its final maturity in July 2018, has now been settled with a recent payment of an outstanding amount of $34 million. GFH posted a 9% increase in its consolidated net profit for the first quarter to March. The total net profit rose to $36.89 million (Dh135.5 million) in the three months to March up from $33.55 million in the first quarter of 2017.

DIB donates Dh3m to Al Jalila Foundation

Al Jalila Foundation has received a donation of Dh3 million from Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) to support it’s Aawen (treatment) programme. Since its inception in 2013, Al Jalila Foundation has supported 467 patients from 36 nationalities, including 190 children, and invested Dh34 million to provide relief to patients who suffer from chronic illnesses. The treatment costs for patients, newborn to 90 years of age, have ranged from to Dh20,000 to Dh250,000 per individual.

ADIB plans a Dh1.16bn rights issue and tapping the #sukuk market

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) plans to maintain growth and pay off some of its old debt. The board of ADIB is recommending to increase the bank’s issued capital through more than a Dh1.16 billion rights issue. The proposed deal includes issuing 464 million new shares at a nominal face value of Dh1 per share. The bank’s board has also proposed the issuance of a $750m (Dh2.75 billion) perpetual tier 1 sukuk, and the repayment of its $1bn hybrid tier 1 sukuk issued in 2012. ADIB’s vice-chairman Khamis Buharoon said the pace of the bank's growth has been fast, increasing its number of customers to 1 million in the UAE, nearly double the number it had five years ago. He noted that the bank was raising capital to maintain its growth trajectory, while maintaining a capital buffer.

#Bahrain's Bank Alkhair sells stake in Turkish investment firm

Bahrain’s Bank Alkhair has sold its majority stake in Turkish investment firm Alkhair Capital, as the lender exits some markets. Bank Alkhair entered the Turkish market a decade ago, acquiring an initial 75% stake in the investment firm. The bank has faced a challenging business environment over the past year and is currently streamlining its business lines. Additionally, the bank sold its stake in Pakistani lender Burj Bank and in 2017 the firm upgraded its business licence in the UAE and expanded its capital markets business in Saudi Arabia in a bid to focus on other markets. Now Bank Alkhair has received approval to transfer its 95.79% stake in Alkhair Capital to Ankara-based A1 Capital. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

#UAE private wealth forecast to grow to $590bn by 2022

According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), private wealth in the UAE saw positive growth between 2016 and 2017 of 8% and this growth is projected to remain steady over the next five years. Private wealth is expected to reach $590 billion in investable assets by 2022. The main drivers were the bull market environment in all major economies and the significant strengthening of most major currencies against the dollar. While offshore share is expected to decline over the next five years from 30% in 2017 to 24.1% in 2022, it will continue to grow to reach $140 billion in the UAE in the same period. The report also showed that personal wealth in the Middle East rose by 11% to $3.8 trillion in 2017, a significant increase compared with the rate for the previous five years.

Noor Bank rolls out Noor Wealth

Noor Bank has launched Noor Wealth, a Shari’ah-compliant platform offering tailored product mixes. Noor Wealth targets customers with a minimum of AED 367,300 of assets under management or a minimum salary of AED 50,000. The bank offers mutual funds among other 10 lenders in the GCC and it also offers access to fixed-income products through its Sukuk platform and Islamic structured products. Noor Wealth collaborates with Knight Frank to offer global physical real estate services for its customers. Mufazzal Kajiji, Head of Retail Banking at Noor Bank, said that Noor Wealth currently serves clients from 10 countries and is in the process of expanding.

Islamic #Insurance sector to stay profitable in ’18

The net income of listed companies in the GCC Islamic insurance sector has nearly halved in 2017 to $375m, from $674m in 2016. The decline in 2017 net income was mainly driven by weaker results in the Saudi Arabian insurance sector. S&P Global Ratings believes that medium-term growth prospects in the sector remain satisfactory given relatively low penetration levels. It expects Islamic insurance to remain profitable overall in 2018. The ratings agency also observes strengthening capital levels. The Islamic insurance industry in GCC countries outside Saudi Arabia recorded an increase in net income by about 832% to $82m in 2017 from$9m in 2016. Also, there was an increase of more than 60% in first-quarter 2018 compared with the same period last year. This improvement was mainly driven by better results in the UAE.

#Kuwait's KFH invites #Bahrain's AUB to begin due diligence

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) invited Bahrain's Ahli United Bank (AUB) to begin a due diligence process for a potential merger. KFH also asked AUB to sign a non-disclosure agreement. If the merger goes ahead, it would be the latest of several recent tie-ups to create bigger and stronger lenders in an over-banked region. If the merger proceeds, the total assets of the two banks would be $90.57 billion, making it the sixth largest bank in the Gulf. The agreement to begin due diligence demonstrates seriousness in the deal process and backing from the lenders' major shareholders. The major shareholders in the two lenders are Kuwait state-owned entities.

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