GCC

#Kuwait Bank Adopts Ripple for Instant Cross-Border Payments

The Kuwait Finance House (KFH) has joined RippleNet, an enterprise blockchain network for international remittance payments. RippleNet is a SWIFT-replacement global blockchain network that sees over 100 financial institutions including banks, payment providers and remittance operators. KFH underlined its intention to use Ripple’s unique tool for cross-border payments for its retail customers. With this, KFH can provide instant and secure cross-border money transfers within seconds, with end-to-end visibility over the journey of the payment. Elsewhere in the region, UAE-based RAK Bank became a RippleNet member in September. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the defacto central bank of Saudi Arabia, has also partnered with Ripple. The SAMA also became the first central bank in the world to join RippleNet.

Dana Gas receives $40mn from #Egyptian government

UAE based natural gas producer Dana Gas has now received almost $90mn so far this year from the North African nation.

#Saudi Arabia's #Sukuk selling crosses SAR 3.95 bn

Saudi Arabia's finance ministry sold 3.95 billion riyals (USD1.05 billion) of domestic Sukuk in its monthly sale by re-opening an issue originally made last month. It sold 3.35 billion riyals of five-year Sukuk, 350 million riyals of seven-year and 250 million riyals of 10-year. Last month, the ministry sold 5.0 billion riyals of domestic Sukuk.

Call for promoting role of Islamic Waqf

Qatar's Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs organized a forum on waqf where participants called for the advancement of the waqf to regain its role in the Islamic economy. Qatar has made great steps in the advancement of the waqf, starting with the enactment of the laws regulating it, and taking all measures to ensure the governance and transparency of waqf operations. The four-day forum discussed current vital issues including the responsibility of scholars, the renewal of Islamic jurisprudence, the reform of religious education, and the Islamic waqf and its role in development.

Fitch issues rating for KFH #Sukuk

Fitch Ratings has assigned Kuwait Finance House’s sukuk programme an expected A+ and F1 rating. KFH Sukuk, the issuer and trustee, is a special purpose vehicle (SPV), incorporated in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), solely to issue certificates (sukuk) under the programme. The trustee has been incorporated solely for the purpose of participating in the transactions contemplated by the transaction documents.

#Kuwait's Noor Financial to divest stake in #Pakistan's largest Islamic bank

Noor Financial Investment Company will divest a portion of its 49% stake in Pakistan's Meezan Bank. The company is in preliminary discussions with foreign institutional investors for a proposed divestment of 9.59% of the total issued and paid up capital of Meezan. Noor has been mulling a sale since at least 2013. Meezan Bank is Pakistan’s fastest growing bank, it posted a profit in each year of operation and its net profits grew 13.5% in 2017 to $93 million. Noor’s stake in the bank was valued at $375 million in 2017.

#Sukuk issuance: QIIB weighs market mood

Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) is waiting for the right time to issue its $500m sukuk in the international market. QIIB CEO Abdulbasit Ahmed Al Shaibei said that QIIB is currently weighing market conditions before the issuance of the 5-year sukuk. QIIB is not in a hurry to hit the market, as it does not face any kind of liquidity issues. The lead arrangers of the QIIB issuance will be QNB, Standard Chartered and some Malaysian Banks. The tenor would be 5 years. QIIB issued its first sukuk in 2012 for $700 and it matured in October 2017. The bank’s $2bn Trust Certificate Issuance programme has already been approved by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA) and is being admitted to the official list of the FCA and the London Stock Exchange. The Programme has been assigned a provisional rating of A2 by Moody’s Investors Service Cyprus.

Asset management industry ‘set for growth’

#Bahrain’s assets management industry is set to see continued strong growth in the next five years. Central Bank of Bahrain supervisor Abdulrahman Al Baker said this positive trend can be attributed to the rapid expansion and increasing sophistication of the GCC financial markets. Other factors include the enchanced regulation on asset management and capital markets, the growing wealth of high net worth individuals, as well as the steady economic growth in the region.

Damac Properties lists $400m #sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai

Damac Properties listed $400 million (Dh1.4 billion) sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai. It is the third Sukuk listed by Dubai-based Damac Properties on Nasdaq Dubai, following a $650 million Sukuk listed by the company in April 2014 and a $500 issuance in April 2017. Damac Chairman Hussain Sajwani said Damac continues to expand its development portfolio at home and internationally. Furthermore, the listing on Nasdaq Dubai provides them high visibility around the world and an excellent regulatory framework. Dubai's sukuk listings have now reached a total nominal value of $59.72 billion, the highest amount of any listing venue in the world.

QIB and INJAZ Qatar sign deal to launch financial literacy programme

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has signed an agreement with the youth organization INJAZ Qatar to sponsor a three-year financial literacy programme for selected high schools and universities in Qatar. The agreement was signed by Bassel Gamal, QIB Group CEO and Emad Al Khaja, INJAZ Qatar CEO. The new "Personal Finance Program" is a five-week training with interactive sessions tailored specifically for high school students and university freshmen. The programme explores ways to earn money and spend it wisely by budgeting, saving, and investing. Courses include the cautious use of credit cards, and protecting your personal finances. Emad Al Khaja said the course was in line with local cultural requirements, as Islamic banking principles are incorporated into the programme.

#UAE’s Dana Gas agrees $700m #sukuk restructuring deal

Dana Gas has reached agreement with creditors on restructuring $700m of sukuk. Under the deal with the sukuk holders’ committee, investors who want to exit the instruments can do so in a tender at 90.5 cents on the dollar. Alternatively, investors can exchange the sukuk for new three-year Islamic instruments with a 4% profit rate, while receiving final profit payments that they were owed before the old sukuk matured last October 31. Holders representing more than 52% of $350m of sukuk convertible into equity, and 30% of $350m of non-convertible sukuk, agreed to take no further action before the tender. The deal would require the support of 75% of sukuk holders and would then become compulsory for the rest. Dana’s shares jumped 3.9% on Sunday after news of the deal.

Dana Gas reports 27% increase in net profit in Q1 2018

Dana Gas reported a net profit of $14 million for the first quarter of 2018 compared to $11 million reported during the same period last year. The company attributed the increase in net profit to better realised prices and the positive arbitration settlement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). First quarter gross revenue reached $120 million compared to $118 million in the first quarter of 2017. During the first quarter of this year, group average production was 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), down 7% from 69,900 boepd in the first quarter of 2017. Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, said the first quarter 2018 saw Dana Gas continue to perform solidly from both a financial and operational perspective. The company recorded a 27% increase in net profit and higher revenues reflecting higher realised prices.

VEB and The Islamic Development Bank Group to Establish a Partnership Fund Amounting up to $100 mln

Russia's Vnesheconombank (VEB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group will establish a Partnership Fund. According to VEB Chairman Sergei Gorkov, the joint fund will be based on the principles of Islamic finance and will aim at promoting investment in the Russian economy and financing high technologies. The joint contribution of VEB and the IDB Group to the fund's capital will amount up to $100 million. Third-party investors will be involved as well. Gorkov added that the Middle East market is one of the strategic areas of cooperation for Vnesheconombank. It plans to open a representative office in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, and create a Russian business desk there. It will provide access to sales and capital markets in the region and create opportunities for partnership with local players.

Dana Gas close to a deal on $700m #sukuk dispute, say sources

Dana Gas has reached an agreement with key holders of $700m of its sukuk to restructure the securities. A committee representing sukukholders agreed to accept an immediate cash payout of 20 cents to the dollar and to roll the rest into a three-year security. According to the agreement, the new security will pay an annual coupon of 4%, bondholders agreed to remove the convertible option in the securities. Dana Gas said it would pay a further 20% of the sukuk after two years and will raise the coupon to 6% if it fails to do so. The majority of sukukholders have agreed to the terms. Investment bank Houlihan Lokey is advising Dana Gas and Moelis & Co is the consultant to the committee of sukukholders.

Gulf Capital Acquires Strategic Stake in #Saudi Arabia #Fintech Geidea

Asset management firm Gulf Capital has acquired a strategic stake in Saudi Arabian fintech company, Geidea. According to Gulf Capital, this deal with Geidea is the largest acquisition in the Saudi Fintech sector. Geidea was founded in 2008 and is the official distributor of Verifone and a payment solution company. Gulf Capital also reported that this deal is its fifth investment in the technology sector and is part of its efforts to develop the payment and digital financial transaction sector in the GCC. Dr. Karim El Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, stated that this partnership was paving the way to adopt Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and move towards a cashless society.

Sharjah turns to the debt market to raise investment capital

The government of Sharjah is tapping the debt markets to help fund large-scale infrastructure and economic development programmes. On March 8 the emirate closed the book on a dollar-denominated sukuk, valued at $1bn. The 10-year bond was listed on the NASDAQ Dubai with an initial price of 150 basis points over the 10-year mid-swap rate, which then tightened to 135 basis points. Demand was high and the bond was oversubscribed, at around $2.4bn. Book runners were local, regional and global lenders, including the Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB), Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered. In early February the emirate also became the first Gulf sovereign issuer to tap the Chinese interbank bond market, issuing a RMB2bn ($318.4m) Panda bond. The increased investment is expected to boost GDP growth, with ratings agency S&P anticipating growth of 2.5% per year by 2020.

Dentons advised banks on Islamic financing for Byrne Group sale

Dentons has revealed that it acted as legal counsel advising on the Islamic financing of the proposed $270 million acquisition of Byrne Group by Itqan Investments. Byrne is an equipment rental company servicing the construction, industrial, oil and gas industries in the GCC. Through the recently completed transaction, Itqan Investments purchased the entire share capital of Byrne Equipment Rental and its subsidiaries. The organisation hopes to enhance Byrne’s ambition to launch into the Asian market. The Dentons team was led by partner and head of Islamic Finance in the Middle East Qasim Aslam, with support from senior associates Atif Choudhary and Jane Flournoy.

UBF launches handbook on financial literacy

UAE Banks Federation (UBF) launched its handbook 'Financial Literacy for Individuals'. Financial experts have often noted that consumer debt has been piling up, resulting primarily from a lack of financial knowledge. The 'Financial Literacy for Individuals' handbook highlights various aspects of borrowing, saving and the ways to manage debt efficiently. It highlights the benefits of investment, including financial security, wealth generation, financial preparedness for emergencies, as well as accomplishment of financial objectives. It also introduces the key investment products such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

Board of Directors of Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation in Dubai Approves 2018-2020 Strategic Plan

Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation’s (AMAF) new strategic plan for 2018–2020 has been approved by its Board of Directors. The strategic plan covers 18 main objectives that collectively aim to achieve AMAF’s mission and expand the number of people benefiting from its charity work. The objectives are also aligned with the pillars of Dubai Plan 2021 and the emirate’s Smart Government goals. AMAF Secretary General Ali Al Mutawa said the new strategic plan would implement several initiatives to realize the foundation's primary goal of providing care to minors, protecting and investing their finances, growing endowments, and encouraging society to engage in charity.

SEDCO Holding Group Signs a Partnership Agreement with Saudi British Bank

SEDCO Holding Group signed a partnership agreement with the Saudi British Bank (SABB), for its Riyali Financial Literacy Program. The agreement was signed by Hasan Al Jabri, CEO of SEDCO Holding Group, and Naif Alabdulkareem, General Manager Retail Banking at SABB. The Riyali Financial Literacy Program attained the Ministry of Education’s endorsement to roll out the program in grade school as well as universities. The program aims to educate future generations on the importance and benefits of financial awareness. The program has already reached more than 400,000 beneficiaries and aims to reach 2 million beneficiaries by 2020.

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