The Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, or the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative is central to China’s evolving role in the global economy. OBOR, unveiled in 2013, is China’s ambitious policy of revitalising the infrastructure of the ancient Silk Road trading routes and forging new trade routes. It offers great opportunities for the GCC in terms of inbound investments from China as well as the chance to deepen economic, cultural and diplomatic ties with Beijing. For the UAE is particularly important to showcase Dubai’s ability to provide China with a gateway to accessing regional liquidity and its expertise in Islamic finance. However, there are constraints arising out of stakeholders’ lack of familiarity with Islamic finance and the current Chinese policies and laws, which only cater for conventional financing methods.
The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev met with the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Dr. Bandar Hajjar, on an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. President Nazarbayev praised the cooperation between IsDB and his country and congratulated Dr. Hajjar on his recent assumption of duties as the new IsDB Group President. President Nazarbayev plans to launch the program 100 Steps, which is designed to introduce structural and economic reforms to Kazakhstan. The program also envisages the launching of Astana International Financial Center as a center of excellence for financial services at regional and global level. President Nazarbayev called on IsDB to provide technical support in the fields of development and Islamic finance. Dr. Hajjar assured that the IsDB Group would provide the required technical assistance to support President Nazarbayev’s initiatives.
Gulf Finance House (GFH) said the negotiations are underway for acquisition of Bank Alkhair of Bahrain. The due deligence is continuing and formalities are yet to be completed. In a separate statement, GFH said that its unit has won a case against its former deputy chief executive. The verdict issued in favour of GFH’s unit is for circa $5 million (Dh18.4 million). Earlier in the month, the GFH board has approved the proposed settlement with assets of an estimated $350-450 million, subject to counterparties’ fulfillment of their obligations. The company said the estimated value of the assets is preliminary and subject to regulatory approvals and will have a positive impact on GFH’s financials for the fourth quarter of 2016.
Qatar-based developer Barwa Real Estate has signed a new facility agreement with Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) worth $165m (QAR600m). According to the official statement, the move is aimed at securing finance for a part of its upcoming projects. This agreement reinforces Barwa’s strategy of strengthening its financial position by funding the upcoming projects through credit facilities with favorable rates, terms and conditions.
Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, is planning to invest heavily in the country’s real estate sector in the coming years. According to CEO Mahmood H Al Kooheji, new hotels, shopping malls and spas will be constructed to boost tourism and the the total investment in the projects will be about $500 million (Dh1.84 billion) over the next five years. The new projects are being planned despite low oil price environment in the Gulf region that has impacted the revenue of the government. On profits of the company this year, Al Kooheji said he expects to cross $100 million. The company is now looking for investments in Saudi Arabia, but also for new markets in the Far East, the US and Europe.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) reported nearly flat third quarter net profit, thus being the latest bank in the United Arab Emirates to suffer from a rise in bad loans as a result of the economic impact of lower oil prices. ADIB made a net profit of 508.9 million dirhams ($139 million) in the three months ending Sept. 30, compared to 503.2 million dirhams in the same period a year ago, up 1.1%. Earlier this month, ADIB chief executive Tirad al-Mahmoud said the bank's earnings in the second half would be similar to the opening six months of 2016. ADIB booked credit provisions and impairment charges totalling 267.7 million dirhams in the third quarter, compared to 193.0 million dirhams in the year-ago period. Net revenues in the third quarter were up 7%, reaching 1.37 billion dirhams compared to 1.28 billion dirhams in the prior-year quarter.
Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed underscores the importance of promoting its sukuk market to Qatar. Mohamed suggests to promote Malaysia’s sukuk industry and to invite the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) and Qatar-based Islamic banks to Malaysia and explore avenues for partnerships. The minister was in Qatar yesterday for a brief visit and met with major Malaysian companies and witnessed the signing of an MoU between Masskar Hypermarket and Infinity Channel. The minister said that there are several Malaysian companies in Qatar that would want to do more business in the fields of construction, services, consultancy, IT, and engineering. Malaysian ambassador Ahmad Jazri Mohamed Johar added that the minister’s visit also aims to enhance bilateral relations between Qatar and Malaysia, whose trade volume stood at around $1bn in 2015.
Emirates Islamic Bank has approved a new plan to double its share capital to Dh10 billion from the earlier Dh5 billion. The shareholders also approved a plan to issue and allot Dh1.5 billion at the nominal value of Dh1 each. The bank has also approved the change of the memorandum and articles of association to reflect changes in the share capital.
Qatar's Barwa Real Estate has secured a 600 million riyal ($164.8 million) financing facility from Qatar International Islamic Bank. The official statement said the money was to fund part of the company's new projects under construction. It did not specify which projects.
Bahrain-based Ibdar Bank has announced the acquisition of a $78-million multi-family housing property at Montgomery county in Maryland, USA. The area boasts the third-largest commercial downtown in the USA, being home to the headquarters of the White House, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Ahmed Al Rayes, acting chief executive of Ibdar Bank, said the acquisition was the Bank's first successful foray into the USA and was aligned with the Bank’s strategy to diversify its international real estate portfolio. Bassam Kameshki, the director of Real Estate at Ibdar, said the Bank has selected a straight forward asset class in a strategic location. The investment holding period will be up to 5 years. Besides real estate, Ibdar Bank is also engaged in private equity, capital markets and investment advisory activities.
Emirates NBD Asset Management (Emirates NBD) has entered into a partnership agreement with UTI International (UTI) to launch the Emirates Islamic India Equity Fund. The fund will expand Emirates NBD’s global portfolio and offer investors exposure to Shariah compliant Indian equities. Emirates NBD is looking to develop a portfolio of global funds with leading international partners, and its latest collaboration with UTI forms part of this strategy. Leo Puri, managing director of UTI, said the new fund presents an excellent opportunity for GCC investors to realise strong returns on Shariah compliant Indian equities. The rationale for the agreement is driven by Emirates NBD’s strong interest in India as a growth market. According to a recent McKinsey report, India is expected to rank in the top five global economies by 2020 and to reach the top three by 2030.
Ahli United Bank (AUB) has concluded the subscription of its issue of a $200 Million Perpetual Additional Tier 1 Sukuk. The Bank’s Chairman, Anwar Al Mudhaf, expressed his appreciation to the Central Bank of Kuwait and the Capital Markets Authority, to the many investors both in Kuwait and abroad and to the Bank’s team. CEO Richard Groves said the sukuk had been oversubscribed by over three times more than the targeted amount. This was achieved in less than one week from the date of the announcement, with a roadshow covering meetings in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The Perpetual Additional Tier 1 capital issue Sukuk is issued in compliance with the requirements of Basel III, the regulations of the Central Bank of Kuwait as well as in compliance with the regulations of the Capital Markets Authority.
Gulf Finance House (GFH) has approved the proposed settlement with assets of an estimated $350-450 million, subject to counterparties' fulfillment of their obligations. The company said the estimated value of the assets is preliminary and subject to regulatory approvals before being recorded in GFH’s financial statements. The recoveries after realisation will have a positive impact on GFH’s financials for the fourth quarter of 2016. GFH shares, which have outperformed the Dubai index, were up nearly 1 per cent to be at Dh1.14.
Qatar Islamic Insurance turned in nine months net profit of QAR 50.117 million, down 29.6 per cent on the QAR 71.212 million recorded in 2015. Earnings per Share (EPS) amounted to QAR 3.34, compared to EPS amounted to QAR 4.75 for the same period of the previous year.
Dar Al Sharia Islamic Finance Consultancy has recently confirmed that the shares of DAMAC Properties are Sharia-compliant for the purposes of investment and trading. Adil Taqi, Group Chief Financial Officer of DAMAC Properties, said this certification will open up new horizons by attracting a wider range of potential investors that seek Sharia-compliant financial instruments. DAMAC's financial ratios are within the acceptable limits prescribed by the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institution (AAOIFA) Sharia Standards and the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) Sharia Standard for share trading. DAMAC Properties’ financials will be reviewed on a quarterly basis in order to ascertain the ongoing Sharia compliance status.
Ahli United Bank Kuwait has opened books on a perpetual dollar sukuk after wrapping up investor meetings on Monday. Books were oversubscribed and were due to close on Tuesday. Citi, Credit Agricole and Credit Suisse ran the roadshow, which started in Abu Dhabi and Dubai last Wednesday before taking in Zurich and Geneva, London and Singapore. Books were opened at 5.75% area on Monday before guidance was refined to 5.5%-5.875%.
Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) in collaboration with the Institute for Corporate Governance recently held the second session of its training programme entitled "The Principles of Corporate Governance in Government Entities". The session targeted second and third level female leaders to promote the role of Emirati women and support their leadership. Shamsa Saleh, CEO of Dubai Women Establishment stressed the important role of the training in highlighting good corporate governance practices. The training session was attended by representatives of various sectors and featured presentations about a range of governance elements. The session supports the UAE Cabinet's decision to make the representation of women on boards of directors compulsory.
Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has launched a new automated complaint management system, a system that helps customers to track the status of an issue and to understand what is happening at every step in the process. The complaint management system is accessible by all employees, ensuring that every person working for the bank is able to contribute to improving customer service. The moment a request/complaint is logged into the system, a text message (SMS) is sent to the customer providing a unique reference number related to the inquiry. This allows QIB customers to get easy updates on the status of their complaint any time. Upon a suitable resolution of each case, QIB customers receive a closing/confirmation SMS. Constantinos Constantinides, the bank's chief strategy officer said the new system would increase customers’ satisfaction and maintain their loyalty to QIB.
Saudi Arabia is joining forces with Japanese telecom firm Softbank (SFTBF) to form a tech investment fund worth as much as $100 billion, making it one of the largest on the planet. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said that over the next decade the fund would be the biggest investor in the technology sector. Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund will put up as much as $45 billion of the money, with Softbank throwing in at least $25 billion. Neither partner appears to be deterred by warnings of potential bubbles in the valuations of big startups and established tech companies in the US. Funding for startups has also plunged recently in India. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced an ambitious plan to create a huge sovereign wealth fund that would be worth 7 trillion riyals ($1.9 trillion) by 2030, which would make it by far the biggest in the world.
The Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) has been recently accepted as an institutional member of the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). The official signing ceremony was held at the CMA’s headquarters in Riyadh on 13 October 2016. The membership agreement was signed by Mohammad Bin Abdulla Al Jadaan, Chairman of CMA, and Hamed Hassan Merah, Secretary General of AAOIFI. Al Jadaan said the CMA was pleased to forge such a professional relationship with AAOFI, as their cooperation had always been successful. They had several joint activities and events, including a major international conference at al-Madinah al-Munawwarah and several training programs on essentials of Islamic finance and economics.