UAE

#UAE Central Bank warns against #Bitcoin

The UAE Central Bank has warned against Bitcoin, terming it as unofficial and lacking sufficient supervision. According to Governor Mubarak Rashed Al Mansouri, it can be easily used in money laundering and in funding terror activities. Al Mansouri also said the central bank has completed the formation of a committee for developing Islamic Sharia-compliant products in order to support the Islamic finance sector. On the level of the UAE financial exposure to global capital markets, the governor said local markets have a slight exposure as the existing liquid assets now account for 17% of the banking sector's total assets. He added that UAE banks are robust enough to deal with risks as they have sufficient capital on account of the rising level of individual deposits.

Islamic Development Bank (IDB) celebrates listing $1.25 billion #Sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai

Dr. Zamir Iqbal, Chief Financial Officer of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), rang the market-opening bell to mark the listing of a $1.25 billion Sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai. 53% of the five-year Sukuk issuance was acquired by investors in the EMEA region, while 47% went to investors based in Asia, with an annual return of 2.261%. The IDB is one of the largest Sukuk issuers on Nasdaq Dubai, with a current total of eight listings valued at $10.25 billion. The bell-ringing ceremony was attended by Hamed Ali, CEO of Nasdaq, as well as Azahari Bin Abd Kudus, Capital Markets Manager of the IDB. Dubai is a leading international centre for Sukuk activity, with Sukuk listings in the Emirate currently totalling $52.47 billion.

Dubai Economy launches Sharia-compliant #smart #programme

Dubai Economy in partnership with Dar Al Tawreeq has launched a Sharia-compliant smart programme to offer receivables finance to suppliers dealing with government entities in Dubai. Dubai Economy is the first government entity to offer such a financing option to suppliers. Faster payment will support businesses in growing sustainably and maintaining cash flows. Businesses working with government entities can use the smart software developed by Dar Al Tawreeq to ensure liquidity by obtaining financing on their invoices. The programme also provides easy access to on-demand working capital for businesses at no additional cost. The programme was launched by Khalid Al Kassim, Assistant Director General in Dubai Economy and Haitham Al Refaie, CEO of Tawreeq Holdings. The programme emphasises the principle of public-private partnership adopted by Dubai in its evolution into an Islamic Economy Capital.

Dubai Entrepreneur Launches Shariah-Compliant #Cryptocurrency Token

Dubai-based entrepreneur Com Mirz is set to launch a new Shariah-compliant cryptocurrency called Habibi Coin. The startup has already seen a staggering 750-member syndicate that is willing to invest in Habibi Coins with a $100-million initial coin offering (ICO). That is in addition to $3 million dollars raised by Mirza. In the same way that Bitcoin works as a decentralized payment system of digital currency with peer-to-peer transactions, Habibi Coin is essentially the bitcoin of the Middle East as it involves no intermediary. There is a significant rise in technology and digital currency that is paving the way forward in the Middle East. The Middle East is set to undertake one of the largest Shariah-compliant tokens, the Habibi Coin.

Dubai Aerospace plans #sukuk issue by mid-2018

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) intends to tap the Islamic bond market within the next nine months to diversify the company's funding. DAE Chief Executive Firoz Tarapore confirmed that the company intended to issue a sukuk very soon, but did not specify how much the company could raise. According to Tarapore, DAE wants to change its capital structure to include a higher percentage of unsecured debt. The company intends to be a benchmark issuer in the U.S. debt market. DAE has already raised $2.3 billion in the United States through a senior bond issue this year to finance its acquisition of AWAS.

What the West doesn’t understand about #UAE foreign #aid

In 2013, 2014, and 2016, the UAE was the world’s biggest international donor, disbursing billions of dollars each year. In 2015, it had the fourth highest aid per capita in the world. Most westerners have no idea that the UAE is so active in foreign aid. Around 90% of its foreign aid is developmental with the rest going on humanitarian and religious/cultural assistance. The recipients are primarily developing Arab and Islamic countries, including Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan. A key factor is a difference in Islamic and secular westerner attitudes to charity. When Islamic banks in the Gulf region are solicited for funds to support civil society projects, they often donate only on the condition that their donation be anonymous. Going forward, transparency efforts must continue. However, the UAE must also work hard to protect the dignity of its aid recipients via appropriate levels of discreetness.

#United Arab Emirates: The Securities And Commodities Authority (SCA) Launched A Strategy For Islamic Capital Market Development

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) launched a strategy for Islamic capital market development. The strategy includes the supervisory role played by SCA, the role played by self-regulatory organizations (SROs) and the challenges encountered. SCA's role is to issue legislative regulations for the Islamic capital market, updates on sukuk and capital adequacy regulations, the introduction of shari'ah board governance system and the organization of training programs. Markets' role is to issue provisions regulating trading securities, update existing regulations and develop investment indicators for Islamic securities. There are numerous challenges facing the Islamic finance market. They include the high costs of Islamic contracts, the increased complexity of Islamic products, the difference in perspectives of Islamic law and the availability of trained and qualified human resources.

#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.

#UAE court postpones judgment at Dana Gas #sukuk hearing - source

A judge at a United Arab Emirates court has postponed the ruling in the Dana Gas sukuk case. Dana is refusing to make payments on the sukuk, which will mature this month. It argues that changes in Islamic finance over recent years have made the bonds unlawful in the UAE. The postponement means the next major development in the dispute may occur in a London High Court, where fund manager BlackRock and Deutsche Bank are representing the sukuk holders. In late September, High Court judge George Leggatt said he would adjourn the London trial until October 12.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank says its ramping up spending on digital technologies

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) is planning to spend significant financial resources on digital technology this year. The lender is not rushing to downsize its branch network, as clients continue to value human interaction. According to Phil King, head of retail banking at ADIB, the bank is also planning to open three to five branches across the UAE next year. King noted that while mobile banking transactions at ADIB rose 49% in the first half of the year, there was a 10% drop in visits made by customers to the bank’s branches in the same period. He added that new branches would be smaller in size, ranging between 35 to 70 square meters versus the larger ones of the past. As a result of the bank’s increase in consumer lending, ADIB’s retail staff has grown 7% so far this year to 247 employees compared to a year-earlier period. ADIB's second-quarter net profit rose 8.7%, beating analyst forecast, thanks to a drop in provisions, gains in income from credit cards and other fee products.

Rasmala Trade Finance #Fund surpasses $100 million

Rasmala Investment Bank Limited (RIBL) announced that assets under management in the Rasmala Trade Finance Fund have recently surpassed $100 million. The Fund specialises in providing short-term structured and/or asset-backed liquidity and has delivered 34 consecutive months of positive returns generating an annualised return of 4.5% for investors since inception. The Fund has seen interest from regional and international institutional investors as well as family offices, corporates, and high net worth investors. The Fund provides a regulated Shari'ah compliant investment vehicle to diversify international asset allocation. David Marshall, Head of Products at Rasmala, said the team worked hard on expanding the Fund’s asset base while matching inflows with investment opportunities. He promised to remain focused on tailoring products that offer clients real alternatives.

#Sukuk market great hope may never recover from Dana

Dana Gas is an independent natural gas supplier based in Sharjah. Its dispute with investors is now making its way not only through UAE courts, but through English courts as well. Dana’s gone so far down the road to avoid its debt repayments that the affair could easily scare international investors away from the sector. The fallout can be seen in the new issue market. While sovereign sales are carrying on, the broader corporate and financials market in the Middle East has been awaiting resolution of this dispute. In June Dana claimed that its $700mn outstanding sukuk were non-compliant with Shariah law and the money it paid out to holders of the bonds should be returned. Bondholders objected and suggested an immediate payment of half of the $700mn face amount outstanding and the due date for the balance extended for three years. The case is now disputed in Sharjah and London, where it stays until October 12, to allow court proceedings in Sharjah to conclude.

New round of GCC bank #mergers in the offing

GCC's banking sector is expected to see a new round of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the wake of the latest such move initiated by Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank of Bahrain. According to U Capital, at least five M&A deals are in various stages of discussion. The new round of M&A follows the merger between National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and First Gulf Bank (FGB) in the UAE, resulting in creation of the regions second biggest bank. Combined assets of four top conventional banks in the region stand at $621 billion whereas the assets of entire Islamic banks in GCC stand at $563 billion as of second quarter 2017. According to banking sources, Masraf Al Rayan, International Bank of Qatar and Barwa Bank are in the due diligence phase. The three-way merger is expected to create the largest Islamic bank in Qatar. Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank are also said to be discussing a potential merger that would create the third-largest bank in Saudi Arabia.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank joins local #fintech hub

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) marked a new partnership with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) to promote the growth and development of the FinTech ecosystem in the UAE. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Sagheer Mufti, CEO at ADIB, and Richard Teng, CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM. ADIB and ADGM participate in joint innovation projects on digital and mobile payments, blockchain and distributed ledgers and artificial intelligence. Both entities will also seek to develop local FinTech entrepreneurship through mentorship and knowledge transfer across incubation, accelerator, academic and internship programmes. ADIB continues to integrate pioneering FinTech solutions into its banking services. The bank has partnered with Fidor to launch the region’s first community-based digital bank. This year, ADIB launched its new generation of digital branch called ADIB Express and has revamped its internet banking platform to enable an intuitive online banking experience.

Bondholders push back on Dana Gas #sukuk invalidation claims in London court

Dana Gas sought to have US$700 million worth of Islamic bonds declared unlawful so it could avoid repaying its investors. The bondholder group, led by Blackrock, demanded in court that Dana Gas repays millions of pounds, or hand over stock in a subsidiary that runs its operations in Egypt. It also wanted the court to ban Dana Gas from issuing any new sukuk. The courtroom battle is notable for the absence of Dana Gas, which has been prevented from taking part because of an injunction in the UAE. Any prospect of an early conclusion has been disputed by Dana Gas, which has claimed that litigation could continue in the UAE and could last up to ten years. The trial in London, which is expected to last up to two weeks, is due to hear evidence from the former general counsel of Dana Gas.

Creditors tell High Court that Dana Gas #sukuk get-out is "absurd"

According to creditors, Dana's claim that it does not have to pay back its Islamic bonds because they are no longer sharia-compliant is "absurd" as repayment under such a scenario is covered in the original paperwork. United Arab Emirates energy producer Dana Gas said in June that its $700 million sukuk were unlawful and began proceedings to have this confirmed in British and UAE courts. The case could set a precedent for other sukuk issuers to refuse to redeem their debt obligations. Legal representatives for the creditors have asked the court to dismiss the Dana Gas claim and asked for permission to serve an exercise notice so they would be able to take action. Dana Gas and Deutsche Bank were not in court because of a last minute injunction obtained from a UAE court preventing them from taking part. Judge Leggatt said he would adjourn the trial until Oct. 12 to see if the Sharjah court in the UAE would lift the injunction preventing Dana Gas and Deutsche from participating in the UK proceedings.

Dubai’s Arqaam Capital launches specialist fixed income #funds in DIFC

Dubai-based investment bank Arqaam Capital has announced the launch of two specialist fixed income funds located within Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The high income fund will invest in emerging markets with a focus on the MENA region and will include a mixture of fixed and floating rate investments. The Islamic fixed income fund will invest in sukuk issued by sovereigns, quasi-sovereigns and corporates. Arqaam Capital said the funds are denominated in US dollars and pegged currencies and will target annual returns of 6 and 7%. The new funds will be co-managed by Abdul Kadir Hussain, head of fixed income asset management, and Zeina Rizk, director of fixed income asset management.

Dana Gas and partners start arbitration case against MOL over #Kurdistan settlement

Dana Gas and its partner Crescent Petroleum have begun arbitration proceedings against Hungary's MOL Group over Dana's settlement agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The KRG agreed to pay $1 billion to the consortium and to reclassify some additional $1.24 billion from debt to outstanding costs. MOL is unsatisfied with the way Dana Gas, Crescent Petroleum and the Pearl consortium handled the settlement and would have pursued a final litigation and enforcement outcome against KRG instead. Dana and Crescent Petroleum own a combined 70% stake in the Pearl consortium, while Austria's OMV, Germany's RWE, and MOL each own 10%. The KRG settlement boosted Dana's cash balance and lifted the company's stock on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange by 14%. Last week Dana bondholders requested a $300 million cash paydown, but Dana refused the proposal and the case is now being disputed in a London High Court.

#DIFC #Wealth and #Asset Management Report 2017

DIFC published a report about the Wealth and Asset Management industry.

From the abstract:

"Continued growth in Islamic asset management

Islamic asset management [IF: Islamic mutual fund business only] continues to grow, at a moderate CAGR of 2.44% since 2012 to reach US$58.89 billion in AuM by the end of 2016, despite the economic challenges in the GCC caused by falling oil prices. The industry is still highly concentrated in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, however.

Shariah-compliant investments have strong demographic demand but remain under-utilised. Targeting different
market sectors and regions has been largely ineffective, due mainly to poor marketing strategies. Inadequate government support and recent market conditions have also impaired market performance.

Despite developments in Islamic finance and growth in Islamic assets, Islamic wealth management remains a niche market, and with local services still largely underdeveloped, most Middle East investors continue to invest overseas. Islamic pension funds’ potential scarcely tapped Pension funds in particular present one way to add scale

#China-#UAE moot on Islamic banking, finance explores int’l cooperation in support of #OBOR Initiative

The Dubai Center for Islamic Banking and Finance in Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) concluded the 2nd China-UAE Conference on Islamic Banking and Finance. The two-day event focused on the objectives of the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, which aims to revitalize the Silk Road connecting Asia and Europe. The event was organized in cooperation with China Islamic Finance Club, ZhiShang Intercultural Communication, and Knowledge Partner Thomson Reuters. Talks focused on challenges and prospects for Islamic finance in achieving the goals of the ambitious Chinese initiative. The agenda comprised a series of panel discussions moderated by key international figures such as Prof. Baydoun; Mr. Gao Lin, Vice Director, Shenzhen Municipal Commission of Economy, Trade and Information Technology, and Dr. Adnan Chilwan, CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank.

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