USA

Yale University Announces Gift to Establish Center for Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School

Yale University President Peter Salovey and Yale Law School Dean Robert C. Post have announced a $10 million gift to create the Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School. This gift is from Abdallah S. Kamel, chief executive of the Dallah Albaraka Group, LLC, a banking and real estate enterprise based in Saudi Arabia. The center will bring prominent scholars of Islam to the Yale campus for public lectures, seminar discussions, visiting fellowships, and visiting professorships, attracting students from the Law School and other schools at the university to its lectures and other opportunities for collaboration.

Shariah Compliant, Globally Diversified

Islamic financial institutions have $2 trillion in assets under management, and this is likely to grow to $3 trillion in the next three to five years. The Shariah-compliant Azzad Wise Capital Fund offers an investment opportunity not only to Muslim investors but to anyone looking to invest in an alternative, non-correlated fixed-income fund with less volatility. The Fund currently has almost $100 million in assets under management. It pursues long-term income and capital preservation by investing primarily in Islamic Bonds and interest-free bank deposits and notes issued primarily by overseas banks in developing countries. A small portion of the Fund’s assets may be invested in dividend-yielding stocks.

Women in Banking: GOP Women on Banking Panel; Boardroom Gains

Banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council are starting to realize that if they want to capture more female customers then they need to recruit more female bankers. Samina Akram is helping empower women in Islamic Finance, running a London-based consulting firm based on Shariah-compliant finance after years running Merrill Lynch's Islamic finance wealth management business. The wheels are turning a little faster for women in the boardroom, according to leadership consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles. Its recent Board Monitor report showed that of 339 new directors appointed to Fortune 500 boardrooms in 2014, 99 were women.

Warba Bank invests in US residential real estate

Warba Bank is one of the initial investors in a US-focused real estate strategy managed by the Wafra Investment Advisory Group, Inc. Warba Bank has announced that the has acquired the commercial office building “The Nathaniel” in New York. Warba Bank’s co-investors include German insurance companies and pension funds. “The Nathaniel” is the first transaction by the fund. The building was completed in September 2014 and is a Class A+ nine story building consisting of 85 residential units with luxurious amenities and 18,000 square feet of retail space. It is fully occupied and located in upmarket area of East Village Manhattan, New York.

Azzad Welcomes Pope's Encyclical on the Environment, Social Justice

US-based Azzad Asset Management has welcomed Pope Francis' encyclical calling for swift worldwide action to combat climate change, protect the environment, and move toward economic equality. In the encyclical released 'Laudato Si' the pope issues an urgent invitation to people of all faiths to reduce their consumption of resources and make changes in their daily lives in order to safeguard the earth for future generations. He calls for sweeping government and economic reforms to counter environmental destruction and economic injustice. Azzad added its voice to that of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) which welcomed the pope's statement. Azzad joined ICCR earlier this year, becoming the first Muslim member of the shareholder coalition.

Buyout firm Arcapita sells $640m US real estate portfolio

Bahrain-based Islamic investment firm Arcapita said on Wednesday it had sold its real estate portfolio of retirement communities across the United States to NorthStar Healthcare Income Trust for $640 million. The portfolio includes 16 facilities and 4,000 residential units for continuing senior care. Net operating income from the portfolio grew by 41 per cent between 2010 and 2014, despite a slump in the U.S. housing market following the 2008 financial crisis. Abdulmalik said the firm has given $3 billion in exit proceeds to its investors in the last two years but did not give a breakdown of profits for its real estate portfolio exit. In November, Arcapita completed a $100 million fundraising, a little over a year after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Buyout firm Arcapita sells $640 mln U.S. real estate portfolio

Bahrain-based Islamic investment firm Arcapita said on Wednesday it had sold its real estate portfolio of retirement communities across the United States to NorthStar Healthcare Income Trust for $640 million. The portfolio includes 16 facilities and 4,000 residential units for continuing senior care. Net operating income from the portfolio grew by 41 percent between 2010 and 2014, despite a slump in the U.S. housing market following the 2008 financial crisis. Abdulmalik said the firm has given $3 billion in exit proceeds to its investors in the last two years but did not give a breakdown of profits for its real estate portfolio exit. In November, Arcapita completed a $100 million fundraising, a little over a year after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy driven by debt repayment difficulties.

Financial ups and downs don’t hurt just the poor

A new report from JPMorgan Chase’s research arm examined the deposit and spending patterns of 100,000 of its 27 million accounts during 2013 and 2014. It found that almost all the customers in the sample experienced changes in income and spending of 5 percent or more a month — not a tremendous fluctuation by any measure. But over the course of the year, 26 percent experienced income changes of 30 percent or more —10 percent suffered declines, while16 enjoyed increases. Income and consumption changes didn’t move in tandem. Just 28 percent of the survey subjects spent more money when they had more, and less when they had less.

When Will Our Justice Department Jail the Criminal Bankers?

Big-time criminals engaging in major financial crimes that effectively involve the theft of billions of dollars from the public aren’t being prosecuted. Today we learned of yet another huge settlement by five of the largest banks operating in our country. The list includes JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland UBS. Each of these banks admitted to engaging in criminal activity. But banks don’t commit crimes. People working for banks commit crime. And when people working for banks commit crime, it’s the responsibility of our Justice Department to indict them.

Islam Meets Wall Street

Demand for Islamic financial products has increased over the last decade—not just in the Gulf and Southeast Asia, but also in America. There are 5.7 million Muslims in the U.S. with $98 billion in disposable income, according to a report by DinarStandard, and many are looking for Sharia-compliant investments. But for many advisors in the U.S., it’s a peculiar market because not a lot of financial experts have expertise in Sharia law. Deals often involve multiple layers to enable them to be Sharia-compliant, and that can lead to added costs, such as double taxation. But one of the biggest issues is the diverging opinions about what makes investments Sharia compliant.

Azzad Asset Management Becomes 1st Islamic Financial Firm to Join Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Representatives from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and Azzad Asset Management have announced that Azzad will join ICCR as its newest member—the first Islamic firm to be affiliated with the group. As a member organization focused on corporate social responsibility and environmental advocacy, ICCR leverages the influence of its shareowner members to enact change. The two organizations expressed optimism about the opportunities this collaboration affords. Azzad representatives reportedly hope to bring a fresh, Islamically inspired perspective to the many corporate and social issues confronted by ICCR.

Saturna Capital Launches Two Funds Emphasizing Sustainability

Saturna Capital Corporation (Saturna) has announced the launch of the Saturna Sustainable Equity Fund (SEEFX) and the Saturna Sustainable Bond Fund (SEBFX), two mutual funds that will invest globally in securities of issuers rated by Saturna as low risk in the areas of the environment, social responsibility, and governance (ESG). Saturna expects the funds will appeal to the growing number of investors who seek to incorporate sustainability and social responsibility into their investments, particularly retirement portfolios. The Saturna Sustainable Equity and Bond Funds will be available on major platforms such as National Financial Services (Fidelity), Charles Schwab, Pershing LLC, and TD Ameritrade.

American banks are missing out on the hot Islamic finance market

Islamic finance is surging across the globe, gobbling up an ever-increasing share of the more than $220 trillion in international assets outstanding. That is, everywhere except in the US and Canada. A combination of regulatory hurdles, a lack of proper rules and standards, and general Islamophobia can be blamed. Another hurdle is the requirement that US banks keep their risk ratios fairly low. In order to be compliant while also maximizing profit, banks usually invest in the huge supply of fixed-income securities such as treasuries and conventional corporate bonds, which are prohibited by Islamic laws. Despite the challenges, both the US and Canada are a natural fit as homes to the bustling and dynamic Islamic finance industry.

Maine lacks loan options for Muslims looking to start businesses, buy homes

Although many states with large Muslim populations have set up businesses to offer alternative financing products that comply with Islamic law, no such companies exist in Maine. That means no credit cards, no mortgages, leaving little opportunity for Muslims in Maine to establish credit or participate in certain aspects of the state’s economy. Several organizations that assist immigrants and refugees in Maine have convened to examine the problem, which they say is holding back economic growth in some of the state’s most depressed areas. Despite those challenges, a surprising number of immigrants and refugees are starting businesses and creating jobs by relying on alternative financing methods such as borrowing from friends and family

Islamic Teaching On Usury Kills Property Tax Exemption In Tennessee

The Islamic Center of Nashville is listed as being a church meaning it qualifies for a property tax exemption. Only ICN did have a problem with its property tax exemption. When ICN decided to finance a school it deeded property to Devon Bank, which paid for the construction. ICN leased the property and bought it back over time from the bank. So even though the religious use of the property had not changed, it was no longer owned by a religious organization and hence for a period of time did not qualify for property tax exemption. ICN was asking for the exemption to be retroactive three years. However, the Tennessee State Board of Equalization ruled against ICN.

How advisers can help Muslim clients invest with faith

U.S. advisers who are not alert to the special investing needs of Muslims are missing an attractive segment of the investing populace. The U.S. Muslim population is expected to reach 6.2 million by 2030, almost three times the nation's 2.6 million Muslims in 2010. Muslim-Americans are younger and better educated than the average U.S. citizen. Moreover, they want to see a greater number of appropriate financial products. Meeting their investing needs is similar to working with clients who want socially responsible investments, but it requires additional expertise. But the main point is that advisers can help Muslims get in the market.

Countries with very high religious diversity - including China - outpace world in economic growth

The Weekly Number's analysis of a new Pew Research Center report - a study based on methodology developed by Brian J. Grim - finds that the 12 countries identified in the study as having very high religious diversity each outpaced the world's economic growth between 2008 and 2012.

Full Report: http://www.pewforum.org/2014/04/04/global-religious-diversity/

US investor backs European Sharia mezzanine fund

An unnamed US investment manager has committed $100m (€80.4m) to a Sharia-compliant mezzanine real estate fund managed by Gatehouse Bank. The closed-end fund, which will invest in western European financings, is the first mezzanine product to comply with Sharia principles. Gatehouse will source, arrange and structure loans up to 85% loan-to-value over the next 18 months. The main principle of Sharia investment involves avoiding assets where more than 10% of the property involves the sale of alcohol, pork or tobacco. With three to five-year terms, the loans are expected to generate net IRRs of between 6% and 10%.

Challenges mushroom for embattled HDG Mansur chief

HDG Mansur is on the ropes, with numerous affiliated companies in bankruptcy, and its principal Harold Garrison himself sought personal bankruptcy last month. Worse Garrison and HDG Mansur are the subjects of a federal criminal investigation into whether they took $5.8 million from a client. Those plaintiffs, two Cayman Islands-based funds, aren’t alone in howling fraud. A year ago, KFH Capital Investment Co. and Kuwait Finance House Real Estate Co. filed a lawsuit in the United Kingdom accusing Garrison and HDG Mansur of misappropriating more than $11 million in connection with a failed development called Finzels Reach in Bristol, England. The court did not go along with a push by creditors to convert the bankruptcy of the HDG Mansur companies from Chapter 11 reorganizations to Chapter 7 liquidations.

FAAIF Brings Islamic Finance to the United States

FAAIF CEO Camille Paldi says the potential for Islamic finance, sukuk, and takaful is huge in the United States. Paldi conducts two Islamic Finance, Banking, and Sukuk workshops in New Orleans and New York, USA in association with Al Huda Center of Islamic Banking and Economics and University of New Orleans. Paldi says that the USA participants were enthusiastic about learning Islamic finance concepts despite negative imagery in the media. Paldi explains that in general, educated Americans are excited to learn about new alternative financial structures and investment opportunities.

Syndicate content