GCC

#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.

Islamic banks defy market challenges in 2017

Islamic banks made big gains in financing growth and profitability in 2017 while keeping their operating costs and cost of risks under control. Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), reported a net profit Dh4.5 billion for 2017, up 11% compared to 2016. Total income increased to Dh10.19 billion, up 18% compared to Dh8.63 billion for 2016. Net revenue for 2017 amounted to Dh7.68 billion, an increase of 14% compared with Dh6.76 billion in 2016. DIB Managing Director, Abdullah Al Hamli, says the UAE continues to be one of the leading Islamic finance markets, with assets now reaching around $150 billion, a 7% growth this year. Emirates Islamic reported a net profit of Dh702 million, up 565% compared to 2016. Decline in operating costs and impairments boosted net profits last year. Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) reported a full-year 2017 net profit of Dh477.7 million compared with Dh462.9 million in 2016.

Emirates picking eight banks to arrange US$1b #sukuk: sources

Emirates airlines has mandated eight banks to manage a sukuk sale to raise about US$1 billion. Mandated banks include HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, BNP Paribas, Emirates NBD, Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Noor Bank. Emirates will join a list of regional issuers seeking funding before expected increases in US interest rates push up borrowing costs. Emirates typically raises financing each year from a combination of commercial loans, operating leases and export credit agency backed facilities. It last sold a bond in 2015, when it raised US$913 million from a 10-year sukuk to pay for four Airbus A380-800s. Emirates signed a deal last week for 36 additional Airbus SE A380 aircraft, handling the aircraft manufacturer the first orders for the model in more than two years.

Al Madina #Takaful names new CEO

#Oman's Al Madina Takaful announced the appointment of Usama Al Barwani as chief executive officer (CEO). Al Barwani was the acting CEO. He was one of the key people involved in transforming the company from a traditional insurance company into Oman’s first takaful insurance company. With a strong track-record of success, the company was recently awarded the Best Arab Company in the insurance category and he was also the recipient of the Best Arabian 100 CEO Award. Al Barwani has a degree in Strategic Management and Leadership ED (CMI) and has a Post Graduate Diploma in HRM in Information System Management and Education (CABA, Canada).

Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre enrols as observer member of Responsible Finance & Investment Foundation

The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) has enrolled as an observer member of the Responsible Finance & Investment (RFI) Foundation. DIEDC and the RFI Foundation will collaborate towards the common goal of shifting the focus of the financial sector from accumulating wealth to supporting equitable, inclusive, and sustainable growth. As a member, DIEDC gains access to the RFI Foundation’s research and its diverse network. Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, said by joining the RFI Foundation, the efforts of the two entities integrate to identify universal principles that guide responsible finance. Blake Goud, CEO of the RFI Foundation, welcomed DIEDC as an observer member. He added that DIEDC was a valuable addition to the RFI Foundation’s member community that includes multilaterals organisations, commercial banks and asset managers.

Dana Gas #Sukuk Talks Stall as It Seeks 15% Discount on Buyback

Talks to resolve a dispute between Dana Gas and its sukuk holders broke down after the company proposed a 15% cut on some of the debt. The United Arab Emirates-based energy company suggested buying back about $200 million at 85 cents to the dollar, and rolling over the rest into new securities with a profit rate of 4%. In June, Dana Gas announced it no longer considers its sukuk compliant with Shariah standards. It has since missed profit payments in July and didn’t repay two $350 million mudarabah bonds due Oct. 31. Dana applied to set aside a Nov. 17 judgment that went against it because the company couldn’t participate in the trial. If its application is unsuccessful, Dana Gas will appeal against the judgment. If the appeal is successful, the issue will be reheard by the English High Court over a three-day period from Jan. 30.

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