Morocco expects to sign a $ 2.4 billion loan deal next month with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The North African country has agreed a package with the IDB under which it will receive $600 million each year from 2013 to 2016. A small part of that sum will be a donation rather than a loan. A formal signing will be held in May. Moreover, Morocco is expected to raise around $ 1.5 billion this year by selling its first sukuk, with a final decision on borrowing to be taken by July. Morocco’s government has said it will limit its public debt to 60 percent of GDP despite the rising budget deficit.
Senior Shariah scholars and advisers of Islamic banks and conventional banks with Islamic windows have agreed to standardise Forex and interbank Musharakah agreements between Islamic banks and Islamic banking windows. This move will facilitate the availability of Shariah-compliant venues for deployment of excess liquidity of Islamic banks. This agreement was reached during a meeting called by Meezan Bank Ltd, in which Shariah scholars discussed the challenges in Islamic Treasury Operations.The forum was attended by several prominent Shariah scholars along with Product Development and Treasury professionals of all major Islamic banks and Islamic banking windows of conventional banks.
In Pakistan, a number of businesses have emerged, which are collecting investments informally from an increasing number of people, and offering them very lucrative and frequent returns. Although it may sound incredible, it is not impossible to offer such returns. However, there is a definite need to look into the matter with respect to money laundering, even if the investments are genuine, and the returns offered by those groups actually come from the investments they made. One thing that these informal groups claim is perhaps true: putting your money in banks does not generate appropriate returns to investors. If a proper corporate governance and regulatory framework is devised for these informal Shariah-compliant investment and business groups, one may observe a new way of doing business in compliance with Shariah.
As the conventional financial system is losing credibility, many believe some form of an ethical finance system could be a better option. Ethical finance can mean investing in companies which have business models that are sustainable in an ecological, social, economic and political way. Islamic finance, through its investment filters, provides one means of doing so. However, for ethical finance to take firm root, it must appear to be as competitive as conventional finance. Customers, after all, may not be willing to pay a premium for their beliefs. Moreover, it is important to mention that Islamic banks are open to non-Muslims and Muslims alike. If Islamic finance was presented as ethical financing, which is what it is, there is a lot of demand.
The Islamic Development Bank plans to invest US$3 billion into the Egyptian market over the next five years as it sees promise and many long-term investment opportunities there. The funds would come in the form of financing and investment. Over the past few years the bank has made investments in Egypt worth US$3 billion, of which US$1 billion came during the last year alone. The Islamic Bank increased its investments in Egypt after the 25 January revolution, at a time when several international institutions had doubts about investing in the nation. The bank’s main objective is to support development.
The Kuala Lumpur-based International Islamic Liquidity Management Corp (IILM) plans to issue $500 million through its sukuk programme in the second quarter of this year. The long-awaited announcement was overshadowed by the unexpected pull-out of Saudi central bank, selling its shareholding to Qatar and Malaysia. According to industry executives, the pull-out would not necessarily deter Saudi commercial banks from buying the IILM sukuk - and that even if it did, demand in other countries would be more than ample. A key factor will be the yield that the IILM sukuk pays versus the cost of funds at individual banks.
Islamic finance and socially responsible investing (“SRI”) have been two of the most rapidly growing areas of finance over the last two decades. Although both types of investors seek to achieve a strong return on their investments, Muslim and non-Muslim SRI investors are also looking for their investments to make a positive impact on their societies. Islamic finance and SRI both suffer from a distinct lack of liquid fixed income investment options. A socially responsible sukuk could fill a need for both markets simultaneously and also help bridge the divide between the conventional and Islamic financial markets.
The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) announces that the suspension of Saudi Basic Industries Corp Sukuk 3 took place on Monday 15/04/2013 based upon the CMA approval of Saudi Basic Industries Corp. request to purchase (redeem) the SABIC SUKUK 3 issue. Accordingly, the SUKUK will be delisted from the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) on Wednesday 15/05/2013.
Qatar Financial Centre Authority in its first ‘Mena Asset Management Barometer‘ has predicted that Qatar will soon become a “key international distribution hub” for Shariah-compliant products. It suggests that Qatar’s position in the Islamic finance market will be boosted with the development of new infrastructure projects that will help in the growth of alternative fund structures and encourage public-private partnerships. However, the report also highlights that the asset management sector in Qatar is still in its infancy and the alternative sector will need time to develop. Besides, Qatar was also chosen by hedge fund management firms as the most favored location to establish a presence in the GCC.
Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has launched its new investment product called International Sukuk Portfolio. It will be invested predominantly in global sukuks issued by sovereign, quasi-sovereign and corporate issuers using well defined investment guidelines and is designed to keep risk exposure under control. The portfolio will be managed by QIB’s subsidiary in the United Kingdom QIB-UK, which has experience in asset management. Since International Sukuk Portfolio is priced and available for trading on a weekly basis, liquidity will be ensured. The portfolio will be diversified across sukuk issuers, a wide sector split and a broad geographic allocation. Part of the profits will be distributed to investors on a quarterly basis.
The CMA Board has issued its resolution approving the initial public offering of 10,500,000 shares, which represent 30% of Aljazira Takaful Ta’awuni Company’s share capital. The offer price will be SAR 10 per share, and the subscription period will be from 03/07/1434H (13/05/2013G) to 09/07/1434H (19/05/2013G). The prospectus will be published within sufficient time prior to the subscription period. The prospectus includes all relevant information that the investor needs to know before making an investment decision, including the company's financial statements, activities and management.
According to a report titled "Record Low Borrowing Costs Are Boosting Gulf Issuers' Credit Quality, But Will They Last?", published by Standard & Poor's, corporate and infrastructure issuers in the Gulf region are benefitting from sustained positive macroeconomic fundamentals and strong appetite from regional and international investors. Moreover, GDP growth of 4% and above in 2013 is expected for most of the GCC nations. All GCC sovereigns have stable outlooks. The key risks to this rosy picture are an escalation in regional political instability or an unexpected fall in oil prices. Fortunately, these risks are negatively correlated, with any threat to supplies of hydrocarbons normally resulting in immediate price hikes.
The Board of Gatehouse Bank has announced its expansion in South East Asia to cement its growing operations and to ensure its proximity with its key clients, regulators and stakeholders in the region. This follows on from the £165 million acquisition of the law firm SJ Berwin’s offices in London, in collaboration with a Malaysian Sovereign Wealth fund in September 2012. Richard Thomas OBE, will relinquish his current responsibilities as Chief Executive Officer and will take over a new role with the Bank to spearhead this SE Asia business expansion and operations. Mr Fahed Boodai, Chairman has been appointed as interim Chief Executive Officer.
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said that it has assigned its 'A-1' rating to International Islamic Liquidity Management 2 SA's US$500 million Islamic finance program. The vehicle has been established with the sole purpose of purchasing sovereign, sovereign-linked or supranational sukuk assets with long-term ratings that correspond to an 'A-1' rating. In addition, the vehicle is to issue short-term Sharia-compliant certificates with maturity profiles of less than one year. IILM will act as the program administrator of the vehicle.
Dubai-based GFH Capital, owners of English football club Leeds United, have confirmed the appointment of Brian McDermott as the club's new manager with immediate effect. McDermott has agreed a three-year contract and will be joined by Nigel Gibbs as his assistant. The pairing previously worked together at Reading, where McDermott won promotion to the Premier League last season. McDermott brings with him the experience of having clinched promotion from the Championship last season when he guided Reading to the Premier League.
Simply Sharia Human Capital (SSHC) is now offering the Islamic Finance Qualification (IFQ) in collaboration with the Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB). The SRB-SSHC partnership will deliver the internationally recognised and UK-certified IFQ across the Gulf region. The IFQ is accredited by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments (CISI), equipping candidates with a practical understanding of Islamic finance principles, products and models of business. The qualification will prepare candidates with knowledge of Islamic finance including Sukuk, Takaful, Mudaraba, Musharaka and Murabaha as well as offer an insight into the influence of Shari'ah in a business context.
The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) has partnered with Cheraman Financial Services Limited, a Kochi-based Islamic fund. KSIDC has 11 per cent share in the Rs. 250 crore fund which is a shariah-based entity aimed at funding selected sectors. Cheraman is the new avatar of the Al Baraka fund proposed by KSIDC two years ago. Cheraman has received the go-ahead from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and has been registered as a trust, despite the Reserve Bank of India stating that the Banking Regulation Act did not permit Islamic banking in the country.
Qatar is set to become a "key international distribution hub" for Shariah-compliant products. While infrastructure projects will feed new alternative fund structures and boost public-private partnerships, Qatar also has a long-term interest in developing as a centre for Islamic finance, The position of Islamic finance in Qatar, according to Mena Asset Management Barometer, bodes well for the future, as demand for Shariah-compliant products grows. Qatar is ranked first in Mena and the second globally in terms of opportunities for infrastructure investments. The country has outlined public investment plans worth $95bn over five years to 2016, as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.
Kuwaiti aircraft leasing company Alafco has hired Deutsche Bank to advise it on a potential sale of global depositary receipts (GDRs) in London. The bank is looking at Alafco’s operations to ensure it is ready for the additional scrutiny that comes with a London listing. The timing of the GDR sale and the amount, if any, that a listing could raise were still unknown. Alafco made a profit of 25.6 million dinars ($89.7 million) in its last financial year ended on Sept. 30, 2012, a 45 percent decline from the previous year.
The Council of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has yesterday resolved to admit sevenorganisations into the IFSB membership. The newly admitted Associate Members are Indonesia Deposit Insurance Corporation, Banque Centrale Des Etats de L'afrique de L'ouest (Senegal), and the Central Bank of Tunisia. New Observer Members are SAB (France), Finance Accreditation Agency Berhad (Malaysia), RAM Rating Services Berhad (Malaysia) and Fajr Capital Limited (UAE). Consequently, the IFSB comprises now 187 members, consisting of supervisory and regulatory authorities, as well as international inter-governmental organisations, and market players.