Bahrain

AAOIFI Shari'ah Board Adopts New Shari'ah #Standards on (Gold) and (Liability of Investment Manager)

The Shari’ah Board of AAOIFI held its annual meeting from 17 to 19 November 2016 in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The meeting was concluded with issuance of a number of resolutions as well as the adoption of two new Shari'ah standards. The new standard on the Liability of Investment Manager defines the concepts of transgression and negligence and breach of contractual stipulations on the part of the investment manager. The standard also sets out the Shari'ah rulings pertaining to investment manager's liability or volunteering to bear liability. AAOIFI has also approved a new standard on Gold and it Trading Controls. The standard will be officially launched at a press conference whose date will be announced shortly. It will also be published together with other standards in the new edition of AAOIFI's standards.

Groundbreaking Eskan bank REIT public offering opens today

The initial public offering of the Eskan Bank Realty Income Trust (REIT) has opened today. The BD 14.4 million offering represents 72.9% of the Trust’s total size of BD 19.8 million, and has a target of 6.5% in net distributable income payable semi-annually. This Sharia-compliant offering is reserved for Bahraini and GCC nationals and is open to individual and institutional applicants. Securities & Investment Company (SICO) is the mandated lead manager, while Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) has been appointed as the receiving bank. According to Eskan Bank's General Manager Dr. Khalid Abdulla, the REIT enables investors to share in a diversified portfolio of properties, namely Segaya Plaza and Danaat Al Madina, offering diversification within the real estate sector. The properties currently have an occupancy rate of over 85%, and the Trust intends to increase its Sharia-compliant property portfolio.

Growth in Islamic finance industry necessitates regulation advancement

Organised jointly by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and the World Bank Group, the 11th AAOIFI-World Bank Conference has started on Monday. CBB Governor Rasheed Al Maraj said in his keynote address that the CBB would introduce a set of new regulations for the Islamic Financial Industry. He added that the industry also needs to invest in the training of the human capital in addition to working on succession planning. Participants discussed the challenges, opportunities and development of Islamic finance in the changing economic climate. The main take away of the day was about the future prospects, innovation, differentiation between the capitalism and the Islamic finance as a whole.

Islamic bank Al Baraka Banking Group to expand network in #Pakistan

Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group plans to expand its network in Pakistan following its merger with Burj Bank. CEO Adnan Ahmad Youssef said the Group's strategy in the Pakistani market was built on expansion in all Pakistani cities. Burj Bank’s 74 branches will be added to those of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) to form a network of 224 branches. Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) aims to increase the number to 300 branches in the next four years. The merger is expected to take effect from the last quarter of this year, and the Bahraini bank will be the major shareholder in the merged institution. Al Baraka Banking Group is also setting up in Morocco after the North African nation introduced legislation allowing Islamic banks into the domestic market. With this entry the Group completes its network in almost all Arab Maghreb countries.

#Bahrain’s Mumtalakat to invest in the #realestate sector: CEO

Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, is planning to invest heavily in the country’s real estate sector in the coming years. According to CEO Mahmood H Al Kooheji, new hotels, shopping malls and spas will be constructed to boost tourism and the the total investment in the projects will be about $500 million (Dh1.84 billion) over the next five years. The new projects are being planned despite low oil price environment in the Gulf region that has impacted the revenue of the government. On profits of the company this year, Al Kooheji said he expects to cross $100 million. The company is now looking for investments in Saudi Arabia, but also for new markets in the Far East, the US and Europe.

#Bahrain's Ibdar Bank buys $78M prime #housing complex in Maryland, US

Bahrain-based Ibdar Bank has announced the acquisition of a $78-million multi-family housing property at Montgomery county in Maryland, USA. The area boasts the third-largest commercial downtown in the USA, being home to the headquarters of the White House, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Ahmed Al Rayes, acting chief executive of Ibdar Bank, said the acquisition was the Bank's first successful foray into the USA and was aligned with the Bank’s strategy to diversify its international real estate portfolio. Bassam Kameshki, the director of Real Estate at Ibdar, said the Bank has selected a straight forward asset class in a strategic location. The investment holding period will be up to 5 years. Besides real estate, Ibdar Bank is also engaged in private equity, capital markets and investment advisory activities.

Finance Minister meets IDB President

#Bahrain's Finance Minister Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa has met with the new President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, Dr. Bandar Hajjar. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the minister's participation in the annual meetings of the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank Group held in Washington. Ways to broaden the close cooperation between the two sides were discussed. The minister praised the IDB's distinguished standing, which plays a vital role in promoting the development movements in Arab and Islamic countries.

Islamic finance body AAOIFI looks to finalise new standards by yr-end

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) plans to finalize several new standards by the end of the year. Bahrain-based AAOIFI has published a draft sharia standard for gold-based products with a one month consultation period ending on Nov. 9. AAOIFI's sharia board also discussed work on a new sharia standard covering credit cards, while a final draft of a sharia standard covering liability of investment managers would be issued during its next meeting. Standards for murabaha, sukuk and ijara are also underway with a working group expected to finalize them by the end of the year. A revision of the existing standard on sukuk will cover issues including the asset-backed and asset-based nature of sukuk, capital boosting instruments, beneficial ownership and non-viability clauses.

Fitch affirms GFH rating with revised outlook to positive

Fitch Ratings has affirmed GFH Financial Group’s (GFH) Short-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at "B" and revised its outlook upward from stable to Positive with a Long-term IDR at "B-". The positive outlook reflects the steps GFH’s management have taken to strengthen its balance sheet by paying down debt, reshaping the business model with focus on income-generating investments, and consequent improvement of profitability. GFH said it believes that this upward revision of the outlook is the result of its new strategy and in developing new recurring steams of income through income yielding investments.

Bahrain's Diyar Al Muharraq signs $366 million Murabaha contract

Diyar Al Muharraq has announced the signing of a Murabaha contract worth $366 million with a consortium of banks including Al Salam Bank-Bahrain, Kuwait Finance House, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait and Al Baraka Islamic Bank. The participating banks will part fund the Deerat Al Oyoun Social Housing project; total costs are estimated at $700 million. Diyar Al Muharraq will bear the responsibility for financing and constructing all units of Deerat Al Oyoun as well as the initial infrastructure and public utilities. The anticipated date for the project’s first phase completion is February 2018. Al Salam Bank Deputy Group CEO Anwar Murad commented on the agreement being a milestone in terms of organizing a project of this magnitude, stressing the cooperation between Islamic and conventional banks in the region.

#Bahrain to require external sharia auditors for Islamic banks

Bahrain's central bank has proposed new governance rules that would require Islamic banks to conduct external sharia audits of their operations, representing a shift away from the long-held practice of self-regulation. Islamic banks in the Gulf have traditionally used in-house boards of Islamic scholars to determine whether religious principles are being obeyed. Some scholars argue that this decentralised approach allows more flexibility and diversity in Islamic finance. Bahrain's central bank said that a public consultation period for its draft rules would close on Oct. 16. These provisions could place Bahrain among the strictest jurisdictions for sharia scholars.

Fitch Rates #Bahrain's Upcoming USD #Sukuk and Bonds 'BB+(EXP)'

Fitch Ratings has assigned Bahrain's proposed US dollar-denominated sovereign global sukuk trust certificates, to be issued by CBB International Sukuk Company 5 (CBB5), an expected 'BB+(EXP)' rating. Fitch has also assigned Bahrain's proposed US dollar-denominated bonds an expected 'BB+(EXP)' rating. The expected ratings are in line with Bahrain's Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR), which was downgraded to 'BB+' with a Stable Outlook in June 2016. Certain aspects of the sukuk transaction will be governed by English law while others will be governed by laws of Bahrain. Fitch's rating on the certificates reflects the agency's belief that the Bahraini government would stand behind its obligations.

A Comparative Study between Islamic Banks and Conventional Banks in Gulf Countries by Kingdom University Associate Professor Dr. Abdelrhman Meero Meets Success

The relationship between capital structure and performance in Gulf Countries Banks, came under the spotlight in a comparative study between Islamic Banks and Conventional Banks. The study was conducted by Associate Professor in Finance and Banking at Kingdom University Dr. Abdelrhman Meero. According to Professor Meero, it is imperative to conduct continuous studies and research in this field, especially as new trends and regulations are periodically introduced by governing authorities in this sector. Results of the study show that there is a similarity of capital structure of Islamic banks and Conventional banks in Gulf Countries. The similarity of capital structure could be the result of the regulation system of the Gulf Countries, which controls the two types of banks by the same capital adequacy regulations.

LCRs of Islamic lenders in Qatar comparable to conventional peers

Qatari Islamic banks’ short-term high quality liquidity assets to cover monthly net cash outflow is comparable to those of their conventional peers and their funding pressures are to some extent mitigated by frequent bonds and sukuks issuance by the government, according to Moody’s, a global credit rating agency.

“In Qatar, the LCRs (liquidity coverage ratios) of Islamic banks are comparable to those of their conventional peers. This situation reflects the absence of sizable retail deposit franchises among the Qatari banks, coupled with heightened systemic liquidity pressures that had led to banks relying more heavily on market funding,” Moody’s said in a report. The funding pressures are mitigated somewhat by the frequent issuance of bonds and sukuk by the Qatari sovereign, a situation, which provides local Islamic banks with the same good access to HQLAs (high quality liquid assets) as their conventional peers, it said.
The rating agency found that five of the six GCC countries are Basel III compliant and have introduced LCRs, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman; only the UAE has yet to adopt a LCR framework for its banks.

Islamic banking lends advantage to financial Institutions

Switching from conventional ‘Western’ financial practices to Islamic banking gives distinct advantages to banks, with the change improving the liquidity and value of stocks. Researchers at the Universities of Birmingham and Brighton studied a merger that took place in Bahrain, between an Islamic bank and a conventional bank in the wake of financial crises that rocked the world between 2007 and 2009.

Their study showed that the 2009 acquisition of Bahrain Saudi Bank by the Islamic institution Al Salam Bank Bahrain (ASBB) prompted a significant increase in the liquidity of ASBB after adopting an Islamic banking system. Published in the Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, the study looks at how the amalgamated bank operated after the merger, concluding that Islamic banking offered the institution significant advantages.

How Islamic finance treats conventional credit cards

The existence of interest, variation of charges on the basis of amounts of cash withdrawals using the cards and the fact that the default rates with quite punitive charges are some of the features that makes the conventional credit cards non-compliant from the Islamic perspective.
In order to comply with the Shariah principles and guidelines, Islamic banking has embraced the needs of customers by repackaging and reimagining existing conventional banking products or engineering innovative products. These help regulating human interactions and transactions to promote transparency, fairness, justice and accountability to each other. The provisions of interest, the financing of business ventures involving alcohol, arms trade and undertaking excessive risks as well as ambiguous contractual obligations that end up benefiting some parties in transactions at the expense of others, form part of the Shariah’s prohibitions. Credit cards are therefore considered offensive to the Shariah standards

Bahrain Islamic Bank plans £166m sale of non-core assets

Bahrain Islamic Bank is seeking to sell about 82m dinars (£166m) of unproductive assets such as land and shares as part of a five-year plan to boost growth. The lender sold 14m dinars-worth of these assets in the first half and plans the sale of a similar amount in the remainder of the year. S&P Global Ratings downgraded Bahrain in February because its vulnerability to slumping oil prices has increased since 2009. Fitch Ratings expects Bahrain’s general government debt to rise to almost 80% of GDP this year, from 62% in 2015. According to CEO Hassan Jarrar, Bahrain Islamic Bank plans to boost revenue by 20 to 25% annually, achieve a return on equity of 15% to 16% and cut its cost-to-income ratio to mid-40% from 60% over two years.

CIBAFI technical #workshops schedule announced

The General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) has announced the schedule of its Technical Workshops on Product Development for Islamic Financial Institutions (IFIs). The workshops will start on August 30 and will be organized in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The three-day Technical Workshops aim to provide participants with hands on technical knowledge and skills pertaining to product development, with a focus on Islamic financial services. CIBAFI, as the voice of the industry, aims to provide platforms such as these to develop human capital and bring industry professionals together.

#Bahrain's GFH says may buy control of Bank Al Khair

Bahrain-based Islamic investment bank GFH Financial Group (GFH) has signed a memorandum of understanding to buy a majority stake in Bank Al Khair. Founded in 2004, Bank Al Khair is an Islamic bank with total assets of $580.5 million as of March 2016. The deal is subject to approval by the boards of directors and shareholders of the banks, as well as completion of due diligence and regulatory approvals.

Al Baraka Banking Group Increase its Total Operating Income by 7% to US$ 538 million and Total Assets Reach US$ 25 billion in the First Half of 2016

The #Bahrain based Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) announced that it achieved an increase in total operating income of 7% and net profits before tax and provisions by 4% during the first half of 2016. Total assets increased by 2%, total finance and investments by 4%, deposits by 1% while total equity increased by 2% as at the end of June 2016. Total operating income reached US$ 538 million in the first half of 2016 compared to US$ 502 million during the same period of 2015. Al Baraka's CEO Adnan Ahmed Yousif said the Group opened 24 new branches in the first half of 2016 to bring total branches to 611. He considers the entry of the Group to Morocco market a very important achievement, because it represents one of the main markets in the Arab Maghreb and Africa. Also, it means a higher diversification in assets and income sources for the Group.

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