Bahrain

Bahrain's Islamic finesse

Bahrain was for decades regarded as the financial centre of the Middle East, but it was hard hit during the recession and is arguably still picking up the pieces.
The Gulf state expects to run a budget deficit of more than $3.8bn this year and has proposed a string of policy reforms, including axing millions of dollars of food, fuel and other subsidies, to help it rebalance the books.
Despite this, its leaders claim Bahrain has “passed the stress test” of the past years’ fiscal woes and is bouncing back as a financial hub.
The number of finance institutions in Bahrain has grown steadily over the years to around 400 (from 190 in 1991) and work has recommenced on the $1.3bn Bahrain Financial Harbour scheme, which houses the country’s stock exchange and high-profile tenants such as Gulf Finance House and BNP Paribas.

Islamic finance body IIFM launches cross currency swap standard

The Bahrain-based International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) launched a standard contract template for sharia compliant cross currency swaps on Thursday, as the industry body seeks to enhance use of hedging tools in the sector. As Islamic finance grows, institutions are increasingly taking larger positions, often in various currencies, prompting the need for widely-accepted mechanisms to manage such risks.
It is the seventh standard issued by the IIFM, a non-profit industry body which develops specifications for Islamic finance contracts. Applications of the standard are mainly for interbank treasury placements, but it can also be used alongside Islamic bonds (sukuk) as well as trade and corporate finance deals, chief executive Ijlal Ahmed Alvi told Reuters.

Waqf Fund hosts tenth Sharia Scholar Session

The Waqf Fund, a Bahrain-based special fund to support Islamic finance training, education and research, hosted its tenth Sharia Scholar session with Dr. Abdulbari Mash'al. Dr. Mashal made a presentation on "What Sharia Reviewers can do to enhance Sharia governance and compliance at Islamic banks". This was followed by an interactive two hour session during which the participants asked questions and gave their comments. Dr. Mash'al explained the general internal Sharia control environment of an Islamic bank and then focused on governance and Sharia compliance. He also explained the interplay between internal Sharia compliance and internal Sharia audit. Dr. Mash'al explained how inherent risks pass through the protection pillar or filter of internal Sharia supervision and the Sharia non-compliance risk is subjected to internal Sharia audit procedures to reduce the likelihood of such risks occurring. If the process is robust it will substantially reduce Sharia non-compliance risk. He emphasized that in order to be effective the internal Sharia auditor has to demonstrate independence and objectivity, technical competence and due care.

Value of global Islamic finance assets projected to reach $3.2 tn by 2020

Global Islamic finance assets had an estimated value of $1.8 trillion in 2014 and are expected to almost double by 2020 to reach $3.2 trillion, according to the ICD Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Indicator.

The projections come ahead of the 2015 World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2015), which will be hosted by Thomson Reuters, the world's leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, and The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), an affiliate of the Islamic Development Bank Group.

Powerhouse partners from across global Islamic financial ecosystem joining World Islamic Banking Conference

More than 1200 distinguished guests from more than 45 countries and 300 organizations participating this December, Bahrain

Key players from the global Islamic finance industry will be participating with the 22nd annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) 2015, taking place on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December at the Gulf Hotel, Bahrain. Focusing on 'New Realities, New Opportunities', WIBC will play host to more than 1200 leaders including Central bank governors, regulators, C-suite bankers & asset managers, policy makers, Fintech entrepreneurs and contemporary thought leaders.
WIBC 2015 will host 5 central bank Governors and deputy governors and feature speeches and discussions by the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, H.E. Rasheed Al Maraj, the Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman, H.E. Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali, Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Riaz Riazuddin and the Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, Nurlan Kussainov.

Albaraka Turk gets feedback in 10 % area for capital-boosting sukuk -sources

Turkish Islamic bank Albaraka Turk has received initial pricing feedback in the 10 % area for a potential U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk issue which would bolster its supplementary or Tier 2 capital, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
The lender has received indications of interest totalling over $250 million, including those from joint lead managers, for the ten-year non-call five sukuk, the sources said. A potential deal is expected early next week subject to market conditions, they said.
Albaraka Turk, a unit of Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group, has chosen Barwa Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD, Nomura, Noor Bank, Standard Chartered and QInvest to arrange the sukuk issue.

Diyar Al Muharraq, Al Salam Bank-Bahrain enter into $32 million agreement for Dragon City development

Bahrain-based urban development company Diyar Al Muharraq entered into a $32 million corporate agreement with Al Salam Bank-Bahrain Thursday.
The agreement will partially fund the company's Dragon City development and was signed by Diyar Al Muharraq Chairman Abdulhakeem Alkhayyat and Al Salam Bank-Bahrain Director and Group CEO Yousif Abdulla Taqi. The total price tag for the Dragon City development is $100 million.

“It is with great pride that I officiate this momentous occasion as this marks the beginning of a strong partnership that is set to produce rich rewards and collect significant milestones for a long time to come," Alkhayyat said. "With Dragon City set to start operating in full capacity before the end of the year, we are confident that our calculated and well-thought out decision will reap many benefits and look forward to reveling in the age of prosperity that will soon follow.”

BisB convenes its 2015 EGM

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) announced that its Extra Ordinary Shareholder Meeting has approved all agenda items, in the meetings which was held yesterday Tuesday 27th October 2015 at 10:00 am at BisB Headquarters – Al Salam Tower – Diplomatic Area. The items included the following the reduction in issued and paid-up capital of BisB aiming to write-off accumulated losses and the issuance of up to 200,000,000 Ordinary Shares with Nominal Value of BD 0.100 each. The EGM has empowered the Board of Directors to decide upon the terms and conditions of the Rights Offer. The EGM then exempted any existing shareholder whose ownership may increase up to 30% or more to make a mandatory offer to all shareholders.

Al Baraka Islamic Bank’s foreign currency ratings lowered

Capital Intelligence (CI) said that following the recent downgrade in the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Sovereign Ratings in September 2015, it has lowered Bahrain-based Al Baraka Islamic Bank’s (AIB) Long and Short-Term Foreign Currency Ratings to ‘BB’ and ‘B’, respectively (from ‘BB+’/‘A3’/‘Stable’). Accordingly, the Outlook for these ratings is revised to ‘Stable’ from ‘Negative’. The Support Level of ‘2’ is maintained on the grounds of the high likelihood of support from the parent ‘Al Baraka Banking Group’ (ABG), also in Bahrain.

Bahrain EDB hosts IIFM Consultation on Islamic Credit Support Arrangement

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) hosted a Market Consultative Meeting on Islamic Credit Support Arrangement in association with the International Islamic Financial Markets (IIFM) and its Islamic hedging joint-partner International Swaps & Derivatives Association (ISDA) in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Credit Support Arrangement (CSA) is one of the key documentations for risk management where counter-parties transactional risk is managed through collateral and margin maintenance mechanism. The Islamic CSA will be developed under the already published ISDA/IIFM Tahawwut Master Agreement for Islamic hedging transactions.

International Investment Bank (IIB) delivers profitable exit from aircraft leasing deal

International Investment Bank (IIB) announced the disposal of a Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, resulting in over 30% IRR for the Bank. The aircraft, which was purchased by IIB in a sale and leaseback transaction earlier this year, is on lease to a leading regional airline on a non-cancellable basis for a period of nine years, and has recently been sold to an international buyer. IIB is currently exploring other attractive deals in the aviation market, IIB Chief Executive Officer, Subhi Benkhadra said.

GFH Repays Over Us$37 Million For Debt Syndicates

GFH Financial Group (GFH), the Bahrain based financial group, has repaid US$37.5 million to its debt syndicates. These repayments are in addition to US$33 million paid by GFH to its debt holders in 2014, and represents more than 30% of the Group's outstanding facilities. Today, the Group has outstanding debt of US$ 137 million under three facilities to be repaid on an amortized basis through 2018/2019. As of 30 June 2015, the Group's debt to equity ratio stood at only 0.24 underscoring the strength of GFH's balance sheet.

CEO of Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) bags the "Islamic Finance Personality of the Year" award in Manama

At the 5th Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) 2015 held at the Gulf Convention Center, the CEO of Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), Mr Khaled Al-Aboodi, was awarded the "Islamic Finance Personality of the Year" for his contribution to the development of the Global Islamic finance industry. The Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) aims to highlight the best practices in Islamic banking and finance, and honor the efforts and contributions of individuals and institutions in the Islamic finance industry. Previous award recipients of GIFA include leaders such as Tun Abdullah Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and HE Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister of Pakistan.

ABG, Venture Capital top key Islamic banks list

Bahrain’s Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) and Venture Capital Bank lead the GCC Islamic Financial Disclosure Index Rankings, it has emerged. The conveners of the 22nd annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) revealed the ranking of the top five GCC Islamic banks rated according to their financial disclosure, subsequent to the announcement of the launch of the WIBC Leaderboard. As per the rankings, the banks, both based in Bahrain are positioned at the top of the Islamic financial institutions in the GCC with a score of 69 and 68 respectively. The index ranges from zero to 100, with higher values indicating more disclosure.

Bourse launches key Bahrain Islamic Index

The Bahrain Islamic Index, a tool to measure changes in values of Sharia-compliant securities listed on the Bahrain Bourse (BHB), was launched yesterday. In a statement issued after the launch, BHB chief executive Shaikh Khalifa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said the index will be computed from the prices of 17 selected stocks, all of which comply with standards and regulations set by the bourse's Sharia committee. The index will act as a standardised tool, adopted by investors in order to measure the fluctuations of their investment portfolios in the companies computed within the Islamic Index.

Dagong and IIRA Reaffirm the Ratings of Al Baraka Banking Group

Dagong Global Credit Rating Company Limited (Dagong) and Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) have jointly reaffirmed the international scale credit rating of Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) at 'BBB+/A3' (Triple B Plus / A Three). In addition, IIRA has reaffirmed ABG 's national scale rating at 'A+(bh)/A2(bh)' (Single A Plus / A Two). Outlook on the assigned ratings is 'Stable'. IIRA has also reassessed the group's overall fiduciary score in the range of '76-80', which indicates strong fiduciary standards and a well developed governance structure. Ratings assigned to ABG derive strength from the group's relatively strong wealth creation ability given increasing demand for Islamic banking services and ABG 's prominent position in the global Islamic banking segment.

Al Baraka Banking Group confirms expansion plans

Chief Executive of Al Baraka Banking Group Adnan Ahmed Yousif has revealed that the bank has completed the procedures for obtaining the necessary licenses to operate in the Moroccan market. It already has operations in Libya, Tunisia and Algeria. He added that the bank has also obtained the necessary approvals for the opening of 20 new branches, and plans to open 25 branches by 2020. Al Baraka is also planning to establish a software company in partnership with European investors and Indians with capital of $15 million under the name Al Baraka Banking Software. The Islamic bank also plans to expand into India and Indonesia. It already has a representative office in Indonesia but sold out of an investment company in India.

IIB appoints new CEO

Bahrain-based International Investment Bank (IIB) has appointed Subhi F. Benkhadra as its new CEO. Benkhadra, previously the CEO of Abu Dhabi-based Baniyas Investment & Development Company, replaces acting CEO Fareed Bader, who continues in the role of executive committee member at the bank. Benkhadra is described as an experienced financial leader with a wealth of experience in traditional and Islamic investment banking in the UK and the Middle East. Benkhadra graduated from the University of Bath in 1987 with a BSc in environmental engineering and holds a MBA in finance from City University Business School.

International Investment Bank Appoints Subhi F. Benkhadra as the New CEO

Bahrain based International Investment Bank announces the appointment of Mr. Subhi F. Benkhadra as the new Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Benkhadra, previously the Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi based Baniyas Investment & Development Company, replaces Mr. Fareed Bader, the acting Chief Executive Officer who continues in the role of Executive Committee Member at the bank. Mr. Benkhadra graduated from the University of Bath in 1987 with a BSc in Environmental Engineering and holds a MBA in Finance from City University Business School. He is also a former member of the Board of Directors of the Arab Bankers' Association in London.

Moody's holds its first Banking and Islamic Finance Workshop in Bahrain

Moody's Investors Service will hold its first Banking and Islamic Finance Workshop in Bahrain on Wednesday 2nd of September. The workshop will focus on Bahrain's banking sector amid low oil prices and global headwinds. It ill kick-off with a presentation from Jean-Francois Tremblay, Associate Managing Director, Financial Institutions Group, surrounding key global developments within credit markets. The workshop will also provide Moody's assessment of the local operating environment and the creditworthiness of banks in Bahrain and the rest of the region. In addition, the workshop will also discuss the latest developments in the Islamic Finance sector as well as growths trends and liquidity management challenges.

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