Bahrain

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.

Kuwait Finance House studying #merger with Ahli United Bank

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) is looking to merge with Bahrain's Ahli United Bank. The Gulf's banking sector is in consolidation as three years of low oil prices squeeze deposits and push up bad loans. KFH Chief Executive Mazin Al-Nahedh said the merger was currently only under study and there has been no agreement so far. In other regional bank mergers, First Abu Dhabi Bank was recently created in the United Arab Emirates after a tie-up between two Abu Dhabi lenders, while mergers are under way in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. KFH said in the statement that it was looking at a range of alternatives to boost its profitability, adding that such decisions require approval from regulators, including the central bank.

Interview with Ahmed Abdul Rahim, Chief Executive Officer of Ithmaar Bank

In this interview, Ahmed Abdul Rahim talks about Ithmaar Bank’s recent performance, the global Islamic banking industry and the increasing use of technology in banking. Ithmaar Bank is now entirely focused on retail banking and is considered one of the biggest Islamic retail banks in Bahrain. The waiting period at the branches has been reduced and the customer is provided various delivery channels for services like call center, Internet banking, EasyPay and mobile banking. EasyPay is the first-of-its-kind mobile-payment service in Bahrain. The service enables customers to shop simply by tapping their mobile phones at the checkout counters of participating merchants. As a pioneering Islamic retail bank, Ithmaar ensures that all its products and services are compliant with Islamic Sharia rules and that business is conducted accordingly.

The rise of Islamic fintech, global opportunities for #Bahrain

At the moment Islamic fintech is more of an aspiration than a reality. As the fintech industry and the demand for ethical investments grows exponentially, we are witnessing a want for the convergence of two. Seeing this space in the Middle Eastern banking industry, the Kingdom of Bahrain has entered a partnership with fintech incubator Singapore Fintech Consortium (SFC) and asset management and advisory firm Trucial Investment Partners. This partnership stands to initiate, nurture and sustain Bahrain’s fintech ecosystem while pulling from the experience of global industry leaders. Likewise, Bahrain has also recently opened a consultation led by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), with the aim of establishing a regulatory sandbox for fintech. It enables businesses to take advantage of the concentration of Islamic financial institutions and the consultation focuses on crowdfunding, including Shari’ah-compliant crowdfunding.

IIRA maintains ratings of #Bahrain Islamic Bank

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed ratings of Bahrain Islamic Bank (BIsB) at BBB/A2 on the national scale and BBB-/A3 on the international scale. IIRA added that the bank’s rating outlook is constrained by the macroeconomic environment and tougher industry conditions for banks in the Gulf. Given the presence of external, regional concerns, the outlook on international scale ratings is assessed as Negative. Impairment in recent financings remains minimal, indicating improvement in the bank's business underwriting capability. However, overall asset quality concerns remain notable. IIRA has assigned BIsB a Fiduciary Score of 71-75, which signifies that the rights of various stakeholders are adequately protected.

KFH Said in Talks for #Bahrain Ahli United Bank, Kuwait Unit

Kuwait Finance House is in talks to buy Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank in a deal that would create one of the Middle East’s largest Islamic lenders with $85 billion of assets. However, there is no guarantee that a deal will take place and final agreements haven’t been reached yet. Lower oil prices are forcing Gulf lenders to consolidate for scale. Abu Dhabi lenders National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank recently merged to create a regional powerhouse with $175 billion of assets. Qatar’s Masraf Al Rayan is planning to combine with unlisted Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar to create the country’s largest Islamic lender. Ahli United in Bahrain declined to comment. KFH shares have lost 0.6% so far this year, giving the lender a market value of $9.3 billion. Ahli United shares have jumped 16% so far this year, giving it a $5.57 billion market capitalization.

$100m fund launched in #Bahrain to help #SMEs growth

A $100 million fund has been launched in Bahrain to invest in the country's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The initiative has been unveiled by the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in partnership with Ibdar Bank and Labour Fund Tamkeen. The Bahrain SME Fund is a Shariah compliant mezzanine private equity fund which will target SMEs with high growth potential in consumer, industrial, ICT, education and healthcare sectors. Khalid Al Aboudi, CEO of the ICD, said that SME support is at the centre of ICD’s strategy as they seek to facilitate further prosperity in Islamic countries. Ahmed Al-Rayes, CIO of Ibdar Bank, added that the creation of this fund is aligned with the Bank’s mission to support Bahrain’s economic diversification through private sector growth.

ICD, Tamkeen & Ibdar launch $100million #Bahrain #SME #fund

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in partnership with Ibdar Bank and Labour Fund Tamkeen has announced the launch of the Bahrain SME fund. The Bahrain SME Fund is a Shariah compliant mezzanine private equity Fund which will invest in Bahrain’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). The Fund will target SME’s with high growth potential in consumer, industrial, ICT, education and healthcare sectors, as well as sectors experiencing dynamic change. The Fund will add immense value to Bahrain as a tool for SME growth and development where 90% of Bahrain enterprises are SMEs and their contribution accounts for about 30% of the Kingdom’s GDP.

Normes Charaïques #AAOIFI

La traduction en langue française de l’ensemble des standards de l’AAOIFI a été achevée. La première édition officielle en français des Normes Charaïques pour les institutions financières islamiques sera présentée le 12 avril 2017 à l’ouverture de la 15ème conférence annuelle de l’AAOIFI à Manama, Bahrain. Cette démarche s’inscrit dans le cadre des efforts de l’AAOIFI pour la diffusion de ses Shari’ah Standards, qui sont devenus la principale compilation de jugements de Fiqh contemporain dans le domaine de Fiqh al Mouamalat au niveau mondial. Eu égard à la taille des communautés francophones dans le monde, l’AAOIFI a entrepris de faire traduire ses Shari’ah Standards en français selon une méthodologie rigoureuse pour assurer une traduction une traduction fiable comportant plusieurs niveaux de révision, d’édition et d’assurance qualité.

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