Bahrain

Ratings scheme planned for #Islamic #endowments

Islamic institutions in Bahrain and Malaysia are developing a ratings scheme for Islamic endowments, or awqaf. The Bahrain-based Islamic International Rating Agency and the Malaysia-based International Institute of Islamic Waqf (IIIW) hope that greater accountability in the management of awqaf can help integrate them into Islamic financial markets. This could mobilize idle assets which are estimated to be valued between $100 billion and $1 trillion across the globe. Awqaf operate social projects such as hospitals, mosques and schools with donations received from Muslims. Most Awqaf do not disclose financial figures, but their underperformance is believed to be considerable since they have traditionally been run by administrators rather than investment managers.

#Bahrain to launch compulsory risk regime for Islamic banks

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) will publish a consultation on a proposed risk assessment framework for Islamic banks in the first quarter of 2018. Khalid Hamad Abdul-Rahman Hamad, director of banking supervision at CBB, said the bank was planning to issue a very detailed risk management toolkit to improve risk management practices taken by Islamic banks. Under the proposed new rules, banks are required to have proper reserves, be it profit equalisation reserves or investment risk reserves. Whenever banks are investing, they must have a pre-plan regarding how much of bank assets will be funded by unrestricted investment accounts and how much will be invested from funds.

Islamic banks brace to re-engineer itself to address customer needs in digital era

The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) is taking place on December 4th, 5th and 6th, in the kingdom of Bahrain. The theme for WIBC 2017 is Drivers of Economic Growth & Risks: Policymakers & Regulators. WIBC is expected to draw participation from over 1,300 global industry leaders, policy makers, innovators and stakeholders, all focused on navigating through the complexities of the global financial system. CEO of Path Solutions, Mohammed Kateeb, said the Islamic finance industry was going through drastic changes as a consequence of evolving customer behavior, channel proliferation and the digitization of operations. He underlined the importance of recognizing common challenges and opportunities facing the industry at large.

Gulf Finance House begins new #land #acquisition drive

Even though its Tunis Financial Harbour (TFH) mega-project has barely got off the ground, Bahrain's Gulf Finance House (GFH) is already looking to acquire adjacent land.

Islamic banks in #Bahrain urged to fully comply with new standards

Islamic banks in Bahrain have until June-end next year to fully comply with new standards mandated by Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB). According to CBB executive director for banking supervision Khalid Hamad, the new Islamic banking legislation, where independent external scrutiny is a mandatory requirement, will promote corporate governance and compliance with Basel III norms. Hamad said the CBB was also preparing comprehensive and detailed risk management legislation. According to him, Islamic investment banking needs to develop a sustainable business model as well as more mergers for a clear competitive advantage. To enhance governance and performance, Islamic banks are required to obtain a credit rating. The industry also needs to work on building the capacity of board members, senior management and officials, particularly those in risk management, through qualifications and training.

Ibdar: Pioneering a Fully Digitised Islamic Investment Bank

Ibdar Bank is directing its FinTech strategies to position the bank as a fully-digitised Islamic investment bank. The Bank has USD277 million in paid up capital and a geographical reach that spans the GCC and Middle East North Africa Turkey (MENAT) region. The Bank also transacts in Southeast Asia and select developed markets. Ibdar Bank has significant expertise in areas including aviation, infrastructure, maritime, oil & gas, and real estate. According to CEO Ayman Sejiny, Ibdar has set out a comprehensive plan in 2018 for its engagement with global Fintech service providers. In the first phase, the bank is set to digitise its operations internally, the second phase will focus on implementing its service offerings in response to the needs of a Global Islamic Digitised Economy (GIDE). Sejiny added that the Central Bank of Bahrain has taken decisive steps towards a FinTech supportive environment in order to facilitate the growth of the sector.

#Bahrain’s GFH eyes #Saudi asset management moves

Bahrain’s GFH Financial Group is considering a listing in Saudi Arabia. CEO Hisham al-Rayes said the Group was also keen to participate in Saudi Arabia’s privatisation programme in sectors such as education and healthcare. He added that GFH was looking at asset management and private equity sector as sectors to acquire. Al-Rayes also disclosed that GFH was in talks with an unnamed financial services company in the Gulf. GFH's acquisition of Dubai-based Shuaa Capital was postponed due to a failure to reach acquisition terms and a lack of initial regulatory approval.

AAOIFI, ACCA sign MoU

The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the Association of the Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Bahrain. The MoU aims at enhancing the cooperation between the specialized professional accounting fellowship issued by AAOIFI, Certified Islamic Professional Accountant (CIPA) and the international professional fellowship ACCA. According to Farhan Noor, AAOIFI's Head of Professional Development, the new CIPA now requires the candidates to pass four module exams and fulfill a one-year practical experience requirement. By this agreement, ACCA qualified accountants can now get exemptions from half of the CIPA program to acquire the prestigious CIPA Fellowship. The MoU also includes cooperation in different areas such as research, events and continuous development.

Dagong and IIRA maintain the Ratings of Al Baraka Banking Group and revise the Outlook Upwards

Dagong Global Credit Rating and Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) have jointly maintained the ratings of AlBaraka Banking Group (ABG) at BBB+/A3. At the same time, IIRA has re-affirmed the national scale ratings of ABG at A+/A2. Outlook on the assigned ratings has been revised to 'stable' from 'negative' indicating the macroeconomic and political stability in ABG’s core countries. ABG operates through a globally diversified franchise spread across 11 jurisdictions in Europe, Africa and Asia. ABG’s ratings derive strength from the recent tier 1 Sukuk issuance this year. While the Group’s subsidiaries are individually governed by their supervisors, the Group maintains close coordination and oversight. Furthermore, Bahrain's institutional framework for Islamic banks ensures adherence to a strong framework for Shari'ah governance.

Interview: How #Bahrain Is Aiming To Position Itself As A Regional #Fintech Hub

In this interview David Parker, Executive Director of Bahrain's Economic Development Board, talks about the kingdom's efforts to position itself as a fintech hub. He recognizes that certain regulatory requirements can make it more challenging for firms to experiment. To mitigate this, the Central Bank of Bahrain launched a regulatory sandbox to help enable innovation. A number of accelerators and incubators have also launched operations recently, including the region’s first cloud accelerator, operated by C5 and powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). When determining the structure of the regulatory sandbox, the Board was in close consultation with the industry. An agreement was signted with the Singapore Fintech Consortium and advisory firm Trucial Investment Partners to support the local Fintech ecosystem. The Central Bank also issued directives on crowdfunding for both Shariah compliant and non-Shariah compliant platforms and launched a national e-wallet.

Ibdar Bank and partners acquire Boston office building for $48mln

#Bahrain-based Ibdar Bank has acquired a prime office building in Boston, USA. The deal is a collaboration with US property manager Lincoln Property Company and asset manager Ritz Banc Group and the total size is $48 million. The Boston property is a single-let building leased to Amazon Robotics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon Inc. The area is regarded as the "technology corridor", and is home to many well-known technology-related companies making it the epicentre of robotic innovation. The bank’s head of real estate, Bassam Kameshki, said the Boston metropolitan area has witnessed substantial growth within the technology and medical sectors. He ensured that Ibdar Bank will be working to add further value to the property and ensure a profitable exit scenario.

Arcapita And Mumtalakat Acquire NAS United Healthcare Services

Arcapita and Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company have partnered to acquire an approximately 90% stake in NAS United Healthcare Services (NAS). Arcapita is a global Shari'ah compliant alternative investment manager. Mumtalakat is the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Abu Dhabi-based NAS is a regional leader in the provision of third-party administrator services to more than 40 health insurance and takaful companies in the Arabian Gulf. NAS services a pool of more than 500,000 insured members and processes more than 3 million medical claims per year. The market for outsourced medical claims management in the GCC region is expected to grow significantly. Most GCC governments have either implemented mandatory healthcare insurance coverage or plan to launch initiatives in the next 2 to 3 years.

#Mergers among smaller Islamic banking industry likely in GCC

There are several rumors about possible mergers of the smaller Islamic banks in the GCC region. According to UCapital, the relatively small size of Islamic banks is one of the compelling reasons for them to consider consolidation. However there is no compelling reason for a big number of regional banks to rush into merger deals. Banks across the region are facing pressure on profitability and tighter liquidity. The UAE, Bahrain and Oman would benefit from consolidation as many banks in these countries lack sufficient scale. A proposed merger of Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank is expected to result in second biggest Islamic Bank in the GCC. Merger of Qatari banks Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar which was announced last year is progressing and is expected to complete by end of the year.

BisB denies reported #Sukuk issuance plans

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BISB) has issued a statement denying its reported intention to issue a Sukuk. The statement, signed by BisB CEO Hassan Amin Al Jarrar, said that the bank would not consider such an approach, at least not within the coming 12 to 18 months. The report about the bank was published Tuesday 19 September 2017 in AlBilad’s press release. The bank affirmed the rest of the report, namely, the rise of the bitcoin industry, applying the value added tax, and the bank’s preparedness towards digital and mobile payments.

The $101 Million syndicated #Murabahah financing facility for #Bahrain Islamic Bank closed

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BISB) has successfully closed a debut $101 million one-year Syndicated Murabahah Financing Facility. The Facility will be used for general funding purposes. Initially it was launched for $50 million and following strong interest BISB decided to utilise the significant over-subscription to increase the Facility size to $101 million. A total of eight banks from the GCC and Europe participated in this transaction. They include Bank ABC Islamic, Boubyan Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates Islamic, Sharjah Islamic Bank, National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah, The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, Federated Project and Trade Finance Tender Fund, and Federated Project and Trade Finance Core Fund. Sole Bookrunner and Coordinator was the Bahrain-based Bank ABC, which expressed its delight with the closure of the transaction and wished Bahrain Islamic Bank continued growth in the future.

The #continuing allure of #Islamic #finance

The total Islamic finance industry was estimated at around $ 1.9 trillion in assets for the year end of 2016, and it pales into insignificance compared with traditional finance. However of special interest is the growing popularity of Islamic finance from both the Muslim and non-Muslim financial institutions and investors. Islamic assets are very much concentrated in the banking sector which holds $1.5 trillion in total, with the Islamic bonds or sukuks worth $320 billion, and investment funds and insurance or so called takaful worth $56 billion and $25 billion respectively.
The majority are purchase and sale or murabaha and leasing or ijara transactions. Some major Gulf companies are turning to the sukuk market to raise funds, with Saudi Aramco and the Government of Saudi Arabia both successfully launching sukuk tranches which were heavily oversubscribed.

#Merger set to create largest #takaful firm

The entire business of Solidarity General Takaful (SGT) is proposed to be transferred to Al Ahlia Insurance Company. The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) received separate applications from SGT and Al Ahlia. SGT has applied to transfer its business to Al Ahlia and be dissolved under article 66 of CBB Law. SGT, a subsidiary of Solidarity Group Holding, is aiming to consolidate its position through the merger. The combined entity, which would be named Solidarity Bahrain, will have a paid-up capital of BD11.2 million and an estimated 15% market share with 10 branches, making it the largest takaful company in the country. In order to facilitate the merger, Al Ahlia shareholders approved the conversion of the insurance licence from conventional to takaful. Last year, Solidarity acquired a majority stake in Bahrain Bourse (BHB)-listed Al Ahlia Insurance Company via an open offer in a deal worth BD10.7m. Officials had said then that Al Ahlia would continue to be listed on BHB.

#Qatar# Islamic #Bank #offers #certificates of deposit after Q2 outflow – Nasdaq

The Qatar Islamic Bank aims to boost its deposit base by offering certificates of deposit in Qatari riyals and US$, after it was hit by an outflow of money due to sanctions against Qatar by its neighbouring Gulf countries. The bank said this weekend, that it was offering 1 and 2 year CDs in its 2nd series of such papers. Its first series was launched End of 2015. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar beginning of June this year, accusing the country of supporting terrorism. This prompted some firms and individuals from those states to pull money out of the Qatari banks. As a result, deposits in the Qatari banks shrank 1.8 % from the previous month in June. Qatar Islamic Bank was particularly hard hit, with its customer deposits falling to US$26.6 billion at end of June, according to its financial statements.

#Bahrain sends RFP for US dollar bond and #sukuk issues

Bahrain has sent out a request for proposals to banks to arrange issues of US dollar-denominated conventional bonds and sukuk. Bahrain needs to raise external financing to plug a budget deficit caused by low oil prices, as the state struggles to build political consensus around planned austerity measures. Last month the cabinet approved a draft budget projecting a BD1.3bn (US$3.4bn) deficit for 2017 and a BD1.2bn deficit in 2018. Bahrain had a deficit of BD1.5bn in 2016. Bahrain is rated BB- by S&P with a negative outlook. The agency last month revised the outlook to negative from stable, citing Bahrain's weakening external asset and fiscal positions. Fitch followed suit, revising the country's outlook to negative but affirming its BB+ rating.

KFH will benefit overall from #merger with Ahli United Bank – Transaction to create 6th largest bank in GCC

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) disclosed that it is studying a merger with Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank. Although the merger would present significant integration challenges owing to the banks’ geographically dispersed asset bases, it would be credit positive for KFH. If successfully completed, the transaction would create the sixth-largest bank in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with approximately $85 billion in total assets as of year-end 2016. The merger is at an early stage of evaluation, with financial analysis underway. The merger would expand KFH’s banking operations, which are primarily focused in Kuwait and Turkey, and include relatively small operations in Malaysia and Bahrain. In addition to Bahrain, AUB has principal subsidiaries in the UK, Kuwait, Iraq, and Egypt, and has an associate in Oman.

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