Africa

Oliver Wyman says Islamic finance industry to grow to USD 1.6 trillion by 2012

Assets of the global Islamic finance industry are estimated to grow to around USD 1.6 trillion by 2012, a report by consultancy Oliver Wyman said. Growth opportunities lie in underpenetrated markets with large Muslim populations in the Middle East, Pakistan and South East Asia. Islamic wholesale banking needs to diversify from real estate finance to include advanced treasury services, innovative asset management, balance sheet management and securitisation management.

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Islamic Development Bank plans Sukuk

Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) plans to issue USD 5 bn Sukuk, over the next five years to finance its programmes.

IDB's president Mr Ali said he expected 2009 issue would be priced higher and that the new sukuk would increase the IDB’s 2009 financing programme by 15 %.

Global finance structures must be revamped, says UN expert panel

International finance structures must be drastically overhauled in the face of the current global economic crisis, a panel of experts convened by the United Nations General Assembly chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Economics said.

The expert panel made a number of suggestions to support developing nations and creating an international infrastruture for the global markets led by the United Nations.

The panel included Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia.

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Sustainability, Islamic Finance and Managing Risk While Seizing Opportunities

I just published an article with the Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes Newsletter, giving an overview about the lines of arguments regarding performance and ethical screens, be it Islamic or Sustainability and what empiricial findings have been published.

It is claimed by critics that the reduction of the universe through ethical screens shall reduce the performance, likewise corporate social responsiblity comes against a cost. Similar counterarguments have been raised regarding Islamic screening criteria.

Bank Sarasin published a study doing own research with partners and reviewing published empirical analyses in the literature. It shows that there is no negative impact on performance. My review of empirical analyses in regard to Islamic finance concluded the same and all publications let conclude that ethical screens add value by way of risk management. An example is the debt limitation of the Sharia tolerance criteria.

Ethical screens may therefore improve the investment decision process and more research shall determine, which factors add value to the portfolio and therefore form part of a professional process.

Two Islamic banks in Kenya founded, but first year of operations not yet profitable

James Makau reported in Business Daily on 31 March that the Gulf African Bank and First Community Bank became the first fully fledged Islamic banks in Kenya but both had to record losses in their first year of operations as operating expenses and heavy set-up costs took a heavy toll on earnings.

Gulf African Bank recorded a loss of Sh281 million last year while First Community Bank (FCB) posted a loss of Sh307 million within the same period despite both players recording increases in net income during the year.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Address The Growing Takaful Market

Press Release

LONDON, March 30, 2009 -- In a report published today, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services explains the way that its rating approach has been adapted to meet the growth of takaful insurance.

The article, "Standard & Poor's Approach To Rating Takaful And Retakaful (Islamic Re/Insurance) Companies," says that the last five years have seen takaful (Islamic insurance) grow from a niche product servicing relatively limited demand to become a mainstream risk management offering.

"In particular, we have seen rapid growth in the Arab world and an expansion across Europe. A further market development has been the growth of retakaful as a Sharia-compliant version of reinsurance," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Kevin Willis.

Standard & Poor's has rated a number of Islamic insurers and reinsurers and so is able to comment on the way that the rating criteria have been adapted to address the specifics of this product.

S&P: Nigerian Outlook Revised To Negative As Falling Oil Receipts Test Government's Institutional Capacity; Ratings Affirmed

Press Release

LONDON (Standard & Poor's) March 27, 2009--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today said it had revised its outlook on the Federal Republic of Nigeria to negative from stable. At the same time, the 'BB-' foreign currency and 'BB' local currency long-term sovereign credit ratings were affirmed. The 'B' foreign and local currency short-term ratings and the 'ngAA+' national scale ratings were also affirmed. The Transfer & Convertibility Assessment on Nigeria remains 'BB-'.

"The institutional policy response to the global economic downturn and the consequent sharp fall in the price of oil, on which Nigeria is overwhelmingly reliant, motivated our revision of the ratings outlook," Standard & Poor's credit analyst Ben Faulks said. "We believe the adverse terms of trade shock will hurt Nigeria's credit profile both on the fiscal and external side."

No stand alone Islamic banks in Morocco to be licensed

In spite of several applications Bank Al Maghrib, the central bank of Morocco, did not issue a stand alone Islamic banking license. The reasons: too much stress for the Moroccan market and the problem of taxation on certain Islamic products. However, since their permission on the market, the total value of Islamic finance products is around DH 200 mn.

Amanie Business Solutions LLC. launches its Shariah compliant stocks screening service

Amanie Business Solutions LLC. officially launched its web integrated Shariah stock screening service, the service will target new entrants into the Islamic fund management industry.

The web delivery platform of Amanie Screening can be accessed through http://www.amaniescreening.com . Investors and fund managers will be able to view the details and features of the Shariah Stock Screening service.

Amanie is a Shariah advisory and education company seeking to serve the global Islamic finance community.

2nd World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists: Fostering Partnerships

PRESS RELEASE

Conventional to Strategic: A New Paradigm in Giving

March 22-23, 2009 • Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi, UAE: The 2nd World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP) concluded today after several key developments had been achieved that indicate an evolution in Muslim giving. The WCMP is a high-level network of donors and foundations established to promote informed and effective giving. The annual Congress itself is a unique event which brings together a diverse set of participants, with the hope that enhanced cooperation between different philanthropies through strategic partnerships will add profound value to address global challenges that affect both humanity and the environment.

Dr. Tariq Cheema, the founder of the WCMP, affirms that the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP)' brings together leaders who understand the risks and opportunities they have are common as global citizens, and therefore realize that collaboration across the lines of faith and race is a necessity and not merely a choice'.

Developments

Call for Islamic Microfinance in Nigeria

Maje T. Sanusi reported in the Triumph Newspaper on 24 Marcht about the Micro-Finance Investors Forum organized by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and held in Kano. The Principal of Oasis Associates, Malam Ahmad Dogara has called for Islamic Micro financing in the Nigeria’s banking system.

Forum African de la Finance Islamique, Avril 1 et 2 2009

Isla Invest Consulting, the first french advisory services compagy is
going to organize the second edition of FAFI, the african islamic
finance forum in Casablanca, 1 and 2 April 2009 in Casablanca, Morocoo.

More details in french:

Crise financière & finance islamique, quelles perspectives pour l'Afrique ?

La Place de Paris a adopté, au cours des six derniers mois, des
mesures censées lui permettre de devenir le « hub » de la finance
islamique en Europe et d'être aussi compétitive que la place de Londres.

Trois mesures phares ont été adoptées en 2008 :
- Conditions de la cotation de sukuk sur Euronext - Paris
- Neutralité fiscale des opérations de murabaha
- Déductibilité fiscale de la rémunération versée au titre des sukuk

Elles complètent la recommandation de l'AMF de juillet 2007 concernant
les OPCVM Islamiques.

Nigeria circulates draft of Islamic banking regulation

According to Les Afriques the Central Bank of Nigeria is circulating a draft of their regulation for Sharia compliant financial institutions.

Global sukuk sales to fall again in 2009

Experts are expecting further drop in Sukuk isssuance in 2009. Local currencies help to support the markets, K. Salman Younis, head of Kuwait Finance House's Asian operations was cited.

UNEP FI Insurance Working Group conducts first-of-a-kind global survey on ESG factors and insurance

The UNEP FI Insurance Working Group, supported by leading academic institutions from the United States and Europe, is conducting a landmark global survey on the understanding and integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in insurance underwriting and product development. The nature and scope of this survey makes it the first of its kind.

The core objectives are to:

- Assess the understanding and integration of ESG factors in insurance underwriting and product development globally
- Assess the financial materiality of ESG factors in insurance underwriting and product development
- Provide recommendations for sustainable insurance underwriting
- Provide research input for potential projects on other core insurance processes (e.g. investment, claims management, and sales & marketing)
- Establish a solid business case for the development of "Principles for Sustainable Insurance"

Visit http://www.unepfi.org/events/2009/survey to find out more and participate.

Sharia compliant Microfinance bank planned in Nigeria

The InNyx Centre for Microfinance Development (ICMD) is a UK non-profit making organisation and our main activity is the promotion and development of microfinance banks in Sub-Saharan Africa. The ICMD has recently completed a scoping study for the establishment of a Greenfield microfinance "Sharia compliant" banking institution and is looking for strategic investors currently.

Vatican related newspaper: Islamic finance suggests ideas for Western financial crisis

Loretta Napoleoni and Claudia Segre suggesting in the Vatican related L'Osservatore Romano, that Islamic finance offers ideas for the Western financial crisis. Citing the main concepts of Islamic finance and emphasizing specifically Sukuk.

The original article is in Italian linked via Source.

President of IDB addresses the 5th World Islamic Economic Forum

Press Release

Jakarta, 3rd March, 2009

The Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB Group) provided “Gold Sponsorship” to the 5th World Islamic Forum WIEF being held in Jakarta, Republic of Indonesia. In his speech in the Leadership Panel on “Innovative Solutions to Global Challenges”, HE Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of the IDB Group praised WIEF for addressing these critical topics, and emphasized three avenues to new innovative solutions to meet global challenges, namely, ethics-based rather than rule-based financial governance structure, investment partnership with the poor and the vulnerable, and unleashing the God-given potential and innate strength of the full human resources. In his speech, he briefed the participants on IDB Group activities in meeting global challenges.

The first day of the Forum included two panel sessions titled “Leadership Panel” and “Global CEO Panel” followed by four plenary sessions namely; Beyond Scarcity: Overcoming the Global Food Crisis, Paving Greener World: Creating a Future for Alternative Energy, Stemming the Tide of the Global Financial Crisis, and Global SMEs: Business Beyond Boundaries.

Islamic Securitization - The Right Way Forward?

Heiko Hesse, Andreas Jobst and Juan A. Sole published on RGEmonitor on 13 February an analysis regarding Islamic Securitization and the grown interest for Islamic finance during the financial crisis.

Islamic finance is driven by the general precept of extending religious doctrine in the shari’ah to financial agreements and transactions. Predatory lending, deteriorating underwriting standards, and a series of incentive problems between originators, arrangers, and sponsors, of which all have infested the conventional securitization process, belie fundamental Islamic principles.

The article linked in the source relates the characteristics of this form of securitization to calls for enhanced disclosure and standardization, ratings agency reforms, and better transparency of origination and underwriting practices in conventional structured finance. In particular, it assesses the potential of conflicts of interest (which became apparent in the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis) to contaminate the integrity of the securitization process if it were conducted in compliance with shari’ah principles.

Gulf Finance House and others to develop resort in Morocco

Morocco has signed a letter of intent with Itmar developpement, Abou Dhabi Investment and Gulf Finance house to develop a USD 1.8 bn, 270 hectar large resort in Essaouria, Morocco at Davos.

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