GCC

IDB #Infrastructure #Fund II takes equity stake in Utico

ASMA Capital owned by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Public Pension Agency (PPA), Ministry of Finance of Bahrain and Ministry of Finance of Brunei has signed a deal with Utico for a significant minority stake. The deal with Utico for a stake in its water business is done through Asma Capital managed IDB Infrastructure Fund II. The deal is valued overall at $ 147 million in equity and project finance and will be completed in the first quarter of 2017. Ernst & Young, Hatch USA, ILFS, GU Advisory UAE, Latham and Watkins, Trowers and Hamlins and Taylor Wessing are advisers to the deal. Utico is making significant investments in the UAE and expanding its infrastructure assets in water, power, transmission and distribution, storage, billing and collection. Richard Menezes, Utico’s Managing Director stated that its model of development has saved the governments billions of dirhams in capital expenditure and subsidies.

#ADIB leads $272m #Islamic #financing for #Meydan

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) is leading a $272m Islamic financing facility for Meydan Group to fund its projects in Dubai. The deal was structured to meet Meydan’s financing objectives, on the back of its ongoing District One Project, a master-planned luxury residential neighborhood in Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid City.
Dubai Islamic Bank and Al Hilal Bank were both mandated lead arrangers for the financing, which matures in December 2018. Tirad Al Mahmoud, CEO of ADIB, said: “[The deal] also evidences the results we are achieving through stepping up our corporate financing activity, with a particular focus on high-growth companies and the real estate sector.” The deal will help utilise financing for the group’s current and future projects including those along the Dubai Water Canal. The funding will also help finance continued investment across all Meydan areas.

Would-be #entrepreneurs #rise up #to the #challenge at #Abu #Dhabi #fintech #hackathon

The fintech event, held earlier this month, was organised by GlassQube and Startup Weekend, a global movement coordinated by TechStars and supported by Google for Entrepreneurs, with the support of Abu Dhabi Global Market, Abu Dhabi’s financial free zone and financial regulator, and Temenos, a global financial software vendor. It brought together more than 100 developers, designers and aspiring entrepreneurs – many of are at university and some still at school – and challenged them to build a functional minimum viable product.
"We took those products and judged them based on their technical aspects, their commercial viability, how thoughtful those teams were about what is the actual potential of these products and services to find a market," says Bernard Lee, GlassQube’s chief executive and a co-founder.
"What’s important here is that it’s not just an idea. It is how do we take this idea and how do we actually convert it into something that is real? Something that shows how a consumer base can potentially interact with this particular application."

#DIEDC to #update #Islamic #Economy #Strategy

The participants discussed the outcomes of a workshop held on 8 December outlining the strategic goals and future objectives for Islamic economy and also examined steps forward for the Centre and its partners in developing initiatives and programme implementation mechanisms.
His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori emphasised that in order to realise the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to position Dubai as the capital of Islamic economy, DIEDC needs to continually adapt its Islamic economy strategy to reflect emerging trends across the sector’s dynamic pillars.

#Emirates #Islamic fosters #innovation in #Islamic #Finance

The Emirates Islamic Bank recently organised an ‘Innovation Day’ where various internal teams shared and showcased their innovations with working prototypes, to the bank’s management.
Emirates Islamic staff across business units participated in the event, designed to ideate and showcase innovative solutions in banking and financial technology. Emirates Islamic’s Innovation Day was aligned with the National Innovation Strategy launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai as a primary tool to achieve UAE Vision 2021 in the finance and banking sector.
Commenting on the bank’s push toward innovation, Jamal Bin Ghalaita, CEO of Emirates Islamic said: “Banking today demands an innovative and fresh approach to keep pace with the evolving needs of our customers. Tapping into our internal talent pool for ideas allows us benefit from their varied skills and experience to create products that match customers’ expectations and needs.

#MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: #IDBank #Dragon #Capital to Develop Sharia-compliant #Investment “Silk-way Growth Fund” for SMEs in #Kazakhstan

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), a development finance institution of the Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and Dragon Capital Partners, the venture capital and private equity arm of Ukraine-based Dragon Capital Group, recently announced the intention to develop the Silk-way Growth Fund, a Sharia-compliant investment fund benefitting “high growth” small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in manufacturing in Kazakhstan. The fund is slated to address the “financing gap created due to difficulty of accessing capital at sustainable market rates and the banking sub-sector’s lack of confidence in SME entrepreneurs.” According to ICD, SMEs make up 96 percent of all businesses in Kazakhstan and 25 percent of the country’s GDP.
ICD will act as fund advisor to Silk-way as part of its SME Platform, an initiative aimed at building Sharia-compliant investment management capacities in ICD’s 52 member countries, and it will consider investing capital in the fund as plans for the fund are finalized.

#CBB #plans to #shut #down #Future #Bank

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has announced plans to close down Future Bank, a joint venture between two Iranian lenders – Bank Saderat and Bank Melli – and Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank, said a report. The CBB said it intends to submit a petition to the competent court for compulsory liquidation of the Bahrain-based retail bank, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.

#Saudi #Arabia said to #consider #sale of #Islamic #bonds next quarter

Saudi Arabia has met with banks to discuss the potential sale of Sharia-compliant bonds in the first quarter to help plug its budget deficit, according to five people familiar with the matter. The country is considering selling sukuk, or Islamic bonds, with different maturities to the five-, 10- and 30-year debt it sold in October, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. This could include tenors of seven and 16 years, the person said. No final decisions on the size or timing have been made.

#Kuwait's #central #bank #fine-tunes governance of #Islamic banks

Kuwait's central bank has issued new governance rules for Islamic banks, including requirements for external sharia audits, as regulators seek more transparency and accountability in the sector. Regulatory scrutiny over Islamic banks has been building as they now hold around a quarter of total banking assets in the Gulf, while in Kuwait that figure stands at around 40 %. Kuwait's central bank said the rules published this week aim to increase customer confidence in Islamic banking by strengthening both internal and external oversight. This follows similar steps by Bahrain which proposed new requirements in September for its Islamic banks, including external sharia audits. The central bank directive, which must be fully implemented by January 2018, provides guidance covering independence of sharia boards as well as fit and proper criteria for scholars.

#FinTech in #Islamic #finance

Financial technology widely referred to as FinTech has grown primarily in the last decade due to growing Internet access worldwide and the emergence of smartphones and apps. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report published last year, 70 %bof the world’s population is expected to be using smartphones by 2020.
As smart devices are increasingly becoming part of everyday life for most people in the digital age, it is essential for the banking sector to become more innovative to enhance its productivity. “We’re transitioning toward a situation where growth for companies and economies will have to depend more on productivity than before,” said Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economist at the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).
“To achieve that, you will need better management, better innovations, new distribution channels and new capital.” Increasing the efficiency of digital banking will particularly serve customers in Saudi Arabia, where banks’ working hours overlap with those of most employees.

Emirates NBD launches #edutainment mobile simulation game to promote financial literacy

Emirates NBD has launched the new edutainment mobile simulation game Banki in its efforts to promote financial literacy in the #UAE. Banki will target the country’s youth to become economically aware at a young age and consider careers in the banking and financial services sector. Banki allows users to play five engaging games that help them understand the concept of savings, trading, simple financial transactions and digital banking. They can learn about the basics of banking products, financial services, stock markets, economics and additional topics aligned to the Ministry of Education’s curriculum. Husam Al Sayed, Chief Human Resource Officer at Emirates NBD said the launch of Banki aims to communicate the benefits of being financially literate to the next generation of customers. Available on both the Google Play and Apple stores, the edutainment game can be downloaded for free and can be used by registering with an email ID.

Islamic finance key to #GCC funding needs in the 'new oil order'

According to the chief economic adviser of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), Islamic finance will need to play a pivotal role in meeting the increasing demand for funds by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Dr Haitham al-Salama said oil prices are not likely to exceed $100 in the near future and are forecast to stay around the $55-$65 per barrel. Also, a spike in the shale oil production is expected, which will push the prices down. He added that this puts further emphasis on the economic diversification efforts of oil producing countries, particularly in the GCC. Qatar has already taken various measures to diversify the economy, which includes lowering the subsidies and cost optimisation apart from prioritising planned spending. Finance Minister HE Ali Sherif al-Emadi had recently said Qatar would be spending another QR46bn in 2017 to upgrade its infrastructure in the run up to 2022 FIFA World Cup.

#Qatari bank trio in talks for potential $44 b #merger

Qatari banks Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar have begun initial talks for a potential merger. This deal would create the Gulf state's second-largest bank and it would have assets worth more than 160 billion riyals ($44 billion). If the deal goes ahead, it would be a rare example of consolidation among banks in the Gulf, which have previously been reluctant to tie up. The previously lavish state spending is now being trimmed to adjust to lower oil prices and the argument for consolidation is now more compelling. Though negotiations have begun, there is no guarantee any agreement will be reached. The proposed merger of Rayan, Barwa and IBQ depends on financial and legal due diligence, as well as securing approvals from regulatory authorities and shareholders of all three banks.

Safe innovation in #Islamic #Banking

According to Noor Bank's CEO Hussain Al Qemzi, Islamic banks need to understand that they need to provide efficient and transparent services to their clients. Just being Sharia compliant cannot make a product less transparent and more expensive to access. Technology remains an important driver for innovation. Islamic banks that only look at product development and not product delivery or customer acquisition, will risk being left behind. There is a need to continue product development. Variable return products need to be developed and propagated in the market. According to Al Qemzi, it is important to refute traditional sayings that Sharia compliance limits innovation. Sharia principles reject prohibited practices but do not reject innovation. Progressive Islamic education is a key area, the Islamic banking curricula have to be developed so that they combine financial sciences with other economic sciences.

Building a #partnership between Islamic and traditional finance

According to Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC), leveraging the opportunities that Islamic banking and finance instruments represent is now more critical than ever before. DIEDC has identified a five-pronged approach to achieve this. First, Islamic economy has to be treated as one organic ecosystem that transcends borders and special interests. Second, a partnership is needed between Islamic and traditional finance to develop real projects in which both can work as stakeholders. It is also important to look for new strategic partners, not excluding countries that are experiencing internal conflicts. Such partnerships should be a true reflection of mutual interests. Islamic financial institutions have to factor in inclusive development and social impact as key priorities.

#Bahran's Bank Alkhair sells its stake in #Pakistan's Burj Bank

Bahrain-based Bank Alkhair has obtained approval from the State Bank of Pakistan to sell its stake in Pakistan’s Burj Bank to Al Baraka Pakistan Limited (ABPL). This transaction follows the announcement on 5 September 2016 about the merger of Pakistan’s Burj Bank and ABPL, creating an institution with assets totaling more than $1.1 billion. Ayman Sejiny, Group CEO of Bank Alkhair said the bank was pleased to sell its stake in Pakistan’s Burj Bank to Al Baraka Pakistan Limited. Bank Alkhair has completed several landmark transactions since its inception, including the establishment of t’azur, a regional Takaful company and the acquisition of Bahrain Financing Company, the oldest foreign exchange and remittance houses in the GCC.

Silatech signs new accords to support Arab youth

Silatech founder and chairperson HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser witnessed the signing of a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with its partners to support the Arab youth. HH Sheikha Moza also chaired the first meeting of the new Board of Trustees of Silatech at which Silatech’s annual performance 2016 and strategy and achievements report 2016 were presented. Silatech signed an agreement with QNB Africa to empower Youth in Sudan with Sama Al Shabab Portfolio. This way QNB Sudan will direct 12% of its portfolio towards financing youth enterprises. Another MoU to employ Tunisian youth was signed in order to create 50,000 jobs by 2020 and reduce migration of Tunisian competencies abroad. In another agreement, Silatech partnered with the World Congress for Muslim Philanthropists to develop the first innovative Micro-waqf platform to connect youth entrepreneurs with donors and investors.

Diverse, ethical banking draws global interest

The assets in #Bahrain’s Islamic banking sector have risen from $1.9 billion in 2000 to $25.1 billion in 2015 and account for around 13% of the kingdom’s total banking assets. According to Director & Group CEO of Al Salam Bank-Bahrain, Yousif Abdulla Taqi, the bank is particularly appealing to a growing number of international clients. Investors are attracted to Islamic finance products for various reasons such as: diversification, ethical investments and asset-based investments. Al Salam Bank-Bahrain (ASBB) has a 6% market share of total Bahraini bank financing. The bank recently signed an agreement with Eagle Hills Diyar and Diyar Al Muharraq to set up an escrow account for the real estate development projects in the kingdom.

#Malaysia-#Bahrain Should Lead World's Islamic #Fintech

Malaysia and Bahrain should take the lead in exploring the potential of introducing the world’s first Islamic financial technology (fintech). According to Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) Director David Parker, the favourable initiatives undertaken by regulators from both countries provide a positive edge for Islamic fintech. In Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia Governor, Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said a regulatory framework to enable the adoption of fintech would likely be announced by year-end. During the 23rd Annual World Islamic Banking Conference held here, Bahrain Central Bank Governor Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj hinted that the bank would soon issue regulations to facilitate fintech solutions. Bahrain Islamic Bank CEO Hassan Amin Jarrar described the need to introduce Islamic fintech to the world Islamic financial market as "critical" and if Malaysia and Bahrain do not take the first step, other big countries will snatch away the advantages.

Urgent need for #training to support growth of Islamic finance: SAMA chief

With the growing demand for Islamic finance, the need for specially-educated professionals in the field becomes crucial. Ahmed Alkholifey, chairman of Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) elaborated this idea in his keynote speech on the second day of the 23rd World Islamic Banking Conference. As an attempt to tackle the lack of human capital in Islamic banking industry, the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) attempts to train individuals on the field providing degrees that combine theory and practice. Ahmed A. Hameed Al-Shaikh, deputy director of BIBF, said one of the most popular courses was Advanced Diploma in Islamic Finance (ADIF), which gives a general yet intensive overview of Islamic finance. Education provided at BIBF is tailored to cater to each group of students as needed.

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