UAE

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.

Dubai Islamic Bank hits the 'billion dollar profits club', what's next?

In this interview, Dr. Adnan Chilwan, CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank, reflects on the bank’s performance in the last couple of years and prospects for future growth. Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has entered the billion dollar profits club and the challenge is to keep up the pace of exponential growth. Chilwan says a billion dollars is just a start and he wants to find the right way of replicating the successful strategy. He hopes the bank will be able to keep up that good work, making sure the customers are happy, the regulator is happy, the ratings agencies, research analysts and shareholders are all happy with what they get from the bank. He is grateful for the board of directors and for the team behind him that made this billion dollar profit possible.

Rise of #Islamic #finance meets #human #capital #gap

The strongly growing popularity of Islamic banking and Islamic finance and its increasing global spread has led to a considerable undersupply of talent in this sector. Both the Middle East and Southeast Asia, but also new regions currently adapting to the alternative finance system such as in Africa and Central Asia are effected.

Estimations are that there is a shortfall of between 8,000 and 10,000 in main Islamic finance fields in Gulf Cooperation Council countries alone, plus more in peripheral sectors such as law and regulatory affairs, financial technology, insurance and others. Altogether, as the industry continues to grow, at least 56,000 people will be needed to serve the Islamic financial sector in the coming years, according to the Finance Accreditation Agency of Malaysia.
“Islamic banking assets in six core markets – Qatar, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the UAE and Turkey – are estimated to reach a combined asset volume of $1.8tn by 2019,” says Dr. Amat Taap Manshor, the FAA’s CEO. “But the human capital meant to support the industry is still in its infancy, and shortages will be felt most acutely in the capital market sector,” he added.

#Kurdistan pays $1 billion to Dana Gas, partners to settle London case

#Iraq’s Kurdistan region will immediately pay $1 billion to UAE-based Dana Gas and its partners to settle a long-running London court case. The full and final settlement of the $2.24 billion case is the latest effort by the semi-autonomous region to put its finances in order ahead of a referendum seeking independence from the government in Baghdad. Kurdistan has ramped up oil sales independent from Baghdad and is hoping to raise gas exports. The settlement is significant for both parties, with Kurdistan settling the dispute at a time it is working on reshaping public finances. For Dana, the Kurdish settlement will be eagerly watched by its bond holders which are disputing Dana's move to restructure its $700 million sukuk on the grounds it is no longer sharia-compliant.

DFSA pens Hong Kong #fintech innovation deal

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) have signed an agreement to cooperate on Fintech innovation. The two public entities said the agreement will further strengthen the efforts of both authorities to develop an innovation-friendly ecosystem and regulatory environment. This continues a trend by both countries to ink bilateral relationships to boost emerging technology within the financial sector. The agreement was signed in Hong Kong by DFSA chief executive Ian Johnston and Ashley Alder, chief executive of the SFC. This step follows the introduction of regulations formalising a tailored regime for loan and investment crowdfunding platforms earlier this month. It also follows the launch of the FinTech Hive at DIFC and its Innovation Testing Licence (ITL).

Moody’s Upgrades Dubai Islamic Bank Ratings

Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Dubai Islamic Bank’s (DIB) local and foreign currency long-term issuer ratings to A3 from Baa1. The outlook for the bank has been changed from positive to stable. Moody's also upgraded the bank’s baseline credit assessment (BCA), adjusted BCA as well as the long and short-term counterparty risk assessment. The primary driver for the BCA upgrade is the bank’s significant improvement in its asset quality and provisioning coverage. The upgrade also captures DIB’s improving profitability in recent years, with return on assets (ROA) improving to 2.0% for 2016. DIB said that its net income rose 13.8% in the second quarter to Dh1.1 billion compared with Dh929 million in the same period last year. Going forward, the rating agency expects that the bank’s net profitability may face modest pressure, due to increased funding costs, but that it will remain above the domestic average and global median.

Applying VAT to Islamic finance products can get complicated

Some countries have introduced laws to level the playing field between Islamic and conventional finance when it comes to the relationship between VAT and financial products. Whereas countries like Malaysia and Singapore have legislated to level the playing field between conventional and Islamic finance by recognising its religious underpinning, the United Kingdom have dealt with the issue in a not dissimilar manner but with a secular approach. Customers have enough difficulty understanding conventional finance. Investment in training to ensure product sales persons can comfortably communicate their Islamic finance offerings will be essential.

DFSA launches #crowdfunding framework

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) launched its regulatory framework for loan and investment-based crowdfunding platforms. The DFSA crowdfunding regulations have the ability to catalyse growth in the FinTech industry by targeting the specific requirements of crowdfunding platforms. The regulations ensure clear governance for FinTech businesses and provide appropriate protection for their customers. They also formalise the DFSA’s approach to regulating crowdfunding platforms which had operated since 2016. Data provided by the Khalifa Fund shows that approximately 50-70% of SMEs have had their applications for funding from conventional banks rejected. Crowdfunding is expected to grow further in importance in the UAE as entrepreneurs seek alternative sources of funding.

DGCX to launch region’s first Sharia compliant Spot #Gold contract

The Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) and Ayedh Dejem Group have agreed to develop and launch the Middle East’s first Sharia compliant Spot Gold contract to be traded on an international exchange. This development is reflective of the growing potential of the Saudi Arabian and wider GCC regions Sharia compliant gold markets. Ayedh Bin Dejem, Chairman for the Group, said this cross-border collaboration offered access to the regional gold and commodities market. It provides customers with improved hedging and investment solutions in compliance with Sharia law. DGCX Chief Executive Gaurang Desai added that Amanie Advisors LLC, the leading global Islamic Finance advisory firm, have been selected to advise on the initiative. The launch of this product appealing to a wider range of investors in the region is an ideal way for the Exchange to extend its reach.

Abu Dhabi Global Market launches first #foundations regime in the #UAE

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has launched a Foundations regime in support of more effective structures for wealth preservation and wealth management. The new ADGM Foundations regime provides a strategic platform for financial planning and structuring, serving as an alternative to trusts and corporate vehicles. The platform offers a variety of services, including family succession planning, tax planning, asset protection, wealth management and corporate structuring, without relying on foreign regimes and practises. Both local and foreign entities will benefit from the ease-of-doing-business environment. The ADGM Foundations Regime creates a new type of legal structure with its own distinct attributes. It combines compliance regime with a high degree of operational autonomy to the founder and offers access to the double tax treaty network of the United Arab Emirates.

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