Zawya

#Innovation in Islamic finance is better cultivated from the roots than the branches

Although Islamic banking and Sukuk comprise the lion’s share of Islamic finance assets, there are significant untapped opportunities in the securities, equity markets, investment funds, insurance and microfinance markets. For Islamic finance to flourish, time would be more valuably spent creating new financial products that are Shari'ah-based rather than adapting existing conventional products to become Shari'ah-compliant. The innovative magic is in the roots, not the branches. On 14 November 2017, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) will host the Global Financial Forum (GFF). The invited industry experts are set to provide valuable insights on the progression of the sector and innovation in Islamic finance.

Islamic banks in #Bahrain urged to fully comply with new standards

Islamic banks in Bahrain have until June-end next year to fully comply with new standards mandated by Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB). According to CBB executive director for banking supervision Khalid Hamad, the new Islamic banking legislation, where independent external scrutiny is a mandatory requirement, will promote corporate governance and compliance with Basel III norms. Hamad said the CBB was also preparing comprehensive and detailed risk management legislation. According to him, Islamic investment banking needs to develop a sustainable business model as well as more mergers for a clear competitive advantage. To enhance governance and performance, Islamic banks are required to obtain a credit rating. The industry also needs to work on building the capacity of board members, senior management and officials, particularly those in risk management, through qualifications and training.

The resurgence of Islamic social finance

The growth of the global Islamic finance has provided a niche market with solutions through a well-defined Islamic ethos. Unfortunately, Islamic finance has been criticised for having diverted from its core principles of socio-economic empowerment. As a model, Islamic finance has advocated the narrative of a sharing economy through risk-sharing and fairness. However, the growth of Islamic finance has been witnessed primarily in wealthy nations without equally impacting those that are less fortunate. International organisations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are now actively considering Islamic finance solutions. In terms of sukuk, the era of the 'Green' Sukuk is upon us. With regards to research, the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) initiated a whole unit dedicated to Social Finance.

#Saudi Arabia considers issuing international #sukuk early next year- Maaal

Saudi Arabia plans to issue an international sukuk in the first quarter of 2018. Fahad Al-Saif, head of the debt management office, said the government would issue domestic sukuk in November and December. Saudi Arabia issued its debut international sukuk earlier this year, raising $9 billion.

ADIB launches second Advanced & Autonomous Car #Equities basket note following high demand

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) launched a second 'Advanced & Autonomous Car' Equities Basket Note, following high investor demand for the first tranche. The Shariah-compliant note matures in one year and provides 100% capital protection. The product provides investors with exposure to a basket of five leading car manufacturers, including Daimler, SAP, Volkswagen, BMW and Tesla. The minimum investment for the note is US$30,000, with an option for early redemption after three months. In September 2017, the bank launched a similar equity basket note, which provided investors with exposure to a basket of nine companies operating across the car industry. On September 7, 2017, an ADIB Shariah-compliant diversified equity basket note capturing the performance of undervalued blue-chip yielded 5.45% upon its maturity.

DMCC and Dubai SME to develop Shariah compliant #trade finance #platform for SMEs

DMCC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai SME to create a web-based trade finance platform for SMEs. The platform will be Sharia-compliant and operate under the DMCC Authority regulatory framework. Present at the signing ceremony was Gautam Sashittal, CEO of DMCC and Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME. Gautam Sashittal said this cooperation between DMCC and Dubai SME opens a new avenue for funding and financing SMEs. Al Janahi said the SME sector in the UAE has evolved remarkably during the past decade chiefly due to support from the government. He added that this MoU was among a series of partnerships created after identifying the gap that existed in the SME landscape in terms of mobilising resources. DMCC is using Alternative International Management Services (AIMS) to make the platform Sharia-compliant.

Ibdar Bank and partners acquire Boston office building for $48mln

#Bahrain-based Ibdar Bank has acquired a prime office building in Boston, USA. The deal is a collaboration with US property manager Lincoln Property Company and asset manager Ritz Banc Group and the total size is $48 million. The Boston property is a single-let building leased to Amazon Robotics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon Inc. The area is regarded as the "technology corridor", and is home to many well-known technology-related companies making it the epicentre of robotic innovation. The bank’s head of real estate, Bassam Kameshki, said the Boston metropolitan area has witnessed substantial growth within the technology and medical sectors. He ensured that Ibdar Bank will be working to add further value to the property and ensure a profitable exit scenario.

#Qatar's new food security depot receives $439mln in funding

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has agreed a 1.6 billion Qatari riyal ($439.4 million) funding deal with Al Jaber Engineering (JEC) to finance a large food security facility at the new Hamad Port. The new food security facility is being built on a 530,000 square metre site and contains facilities that can be used for storing, processing and manufacturing of various foods. The complex will house rice silos, oil storage tanks and associated infrastructure. The funding deal was signed by QIB's CEO, Bassel Gamal, and JEC CEO Osama Hadid. Gamal said the bank was proud to finance JEC’s food security facilities project which is of strategic importance to the country. Hadid added that JEC would be responsible for both the design and construction of the new food security facility. Hamad Port is a $7.4 billion project which has been built to the south of the country's capital, Doha.

#Merger set to create largest #takaful firm

The entire business of Solidarity General Takaful (SGT) is proposed to be transferred to Al Ahlia Insurance Company. The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) received separate applications from SGT and Al Ahlia. SGT has applied to transfer its business to Al Ahlia and be dissolved under article 66 of CBB Law. SGT, a subsidiary of Solidarity Group Holding, is aiming to consolidate its position through the merger. The combined entity, which would be named Solidarity Bahrain, will have a paid-up capital of BD11.2 million and an estimated 15% market share with 10 branches, making it the largest takaful company in the country. In order to facilitate the merger, Al Ahlia shareholders approved the conversion of the insurance licence from conventional to takaful. Last year, Solidarity acquired a majority stake in Bahrain Bourse (BHB)-listed Al Ahlia Insurance Company via an open offer in a deal worth BD10.7m. Officials had said then that Al Ahlia would continue to be listed on BHB.

Abu Dhabi's Al Hilal Bank issues $100million private #sukuk- sources

Abu Dhabi government-owned Al Hilal Bank has raised $100 million through a private placement of sukuk. The issue, led by First Abu Dhabi Bank, has a two-year maturity and offers 90 basis points over three-month London Interbank Offered Rate. The bank issued a privately placed $225 million sukuk in June last year, describing the deal as the first private placement of sukuk by a United Arab Emirates financial institution. That sukuk matures in January 2019, while the new $100 million issue is due on Aug. 14 of the same year. Al Hilal Bank is rated A1 by Moody's and A+ by Fitch Ratings.

#Sharjah says no immediate plan to issue #sukuk

According to officials, Sharjah does‘nt have immediate plans for a sukuk, contrary to previous media reports. These had suggested that Sharjah had hired HSBC for a US dollar sukuk programme which could happen in the 4th quarter of 2017.
But, Tom Koczwara, Director, Debt Management Office, Finance Department at Government of Sharjah reiterated that the situation is still the same as in early May. “There is currently no immediate plan for a further sukuk issuance,” Koczwara said in an email. “The Debt Management Office reviews all financing options on an ongoing basis, assessing market conditions and the government’s financing requirements, and we will make appropriate recommendations on the different options to the relevant government authorities.“
S&P expects the Emirate’s fiscal deficit to narrow to 1.9 % of GDP in 2017 compared to closer to 3 % of GDP in 2016.

London court to hear Dana Gas #sukuk case in September

London's High Court plans to hold a full hearing in September on efforts by Abu Dhabi-listed Dana Gas to restructure $700 million of its outstanding sukuk. Dana Gas declared the bonds invalid last month, saying they were no longer compliant with changing interpretations of the Sharia law. The judge upheld an interim High Court injunction blocking holders of the bonds from enforcing claims related to the securities against Dana Gas. However, he imposed restrictions on asset sales by Dana and its ability to raise more debt or pay dividends. The case has worried the Islamic finance industry as it has raised the prospect that other firms could justify not honouring obligations by claiming sharia-based financial standards had changed.

Mideast Debt: Islamic finance industry frets as Dana Gas deems its #sukuk invalid

The decision by Dana Gas to declare $700 million of its sukuk invalid has raised concern about the safety of sharia-compliant debt instruments in general. Dana Gas received advice that its sukuk were not compliant with the Islamic sharia code and had become unlawful in the United Arab Emirates. The firm said it would halt payments and proposed that creditors exchange the sukuk for new Islamic instruments. Dana has struggled to obtain payments from its production assets in Egypt and Iraq's Kurdistan. With a cash balance of just $298 million in March, it had been expected to have difficulty redeeming its sukuk in October. Mohammed Khnifer, a senior associate at the Islamic Development Bank, said this specific sharia compliance risk was unprecedented and this incident had startled the Islamic finance industry.

Sberbank of #Russia to expand capabilities in Islamic financial business

Sberbank received official certification for its Mudaraba Finance transaction from Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB). The bank also reaffirmed that it would remain fully committed to Sharia compliant financial activities for its customers. Sberbank, based in Moscow, currently has 16 thousand branches in all 83 constituent entities of the Russian Federation. It is the largest bank of Russia and the leading financial institution in the country. Yasser S. Dahlawi, CEO and Founder of SRB, noted that the Shariyah Review Bureau would continue to review and supervise Sberbank’s transaction and sharing best practices of the Sharia complaint marketplace.

#Oman starts marketing seven-year US dollar #sukuk

The Sultanate of Oman has started marketing a seven-year US dollar benchmark-sized sukuk offering at 270bp area over mid-swaps. Books are open for pricing via Alizz Islamic Bank, Citigroup, Dubai Islamic Bank, Gulf International Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan and Standard Chartered. The sovereign had signalled the possibility of an additional 12-year sukuk in its mandate. Expected issue ratings are Baa1 by Moody's and BBB by Fitch.

Egyptian central bank to launch a #microfinance initiative next Tuesday

Egypt’s central bank is launching its anticipated microfinance initiative to support the country’s small and medium-sized businesses. According to the new initiative, the banks will not be obliged to establish a special unit for microfinancing; as they can provide both direct and indirect lending to clients. The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) plans to allocate 20 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.2 billion) for the microfinancing activities in the country. CBE deputy governor Gamal Negm announced earlier that the central bank is preparing the ground to launch an initiative dedicated for the microfinance sector before the end of this month.

Qatari investors focus on #US #property market

Qatari investors are increasingly looking for opportunites in the booming US propery market. Just Real Estate (JRE) has recently launched its new US portfolio, while QInvest announced its US mulitifamily residential-focused real estate fund Magnolia Real Estate Fund. The fund completed its first acquisition of an outstanding asset in Colorado, US. QInvest has been investing in Western Europe, UK and US for the past 5-6 years. JRE recently added two upscale addresses in Miami and New York City to its ever-growing portfolio of luxury developments in Qatar. Qatar, as a country, is becoming a big player in the New York City’s real estate market, with unconfirmed reports showing Qatar Investment Authority ranking the city's ninth-largest commercial property owner.

ICD, Tamkeen & Ibdar launch $100million #Bahrain #SME #fund

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in partnership with Ibdar Bank and Labour Fund Tamkeen has announced the launch of the Bahrain SME fund. The Bahrain SME Fund is a Shariah compliant mezzanine private equity Fund which will invest in Bahrain’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). The Fund will target SME’s with high growth potential in consumer, industrial, ICT, education and healthcare sectors, as well as sectors experiencing dynamic change. The Fund will add immense value to Bahrain as a tool for SME growth and development where 90% of Bahrain enterprises are SMEs and their contribution accounts for about 30% of the Kingdom’s GDP.

Bids for record-breaking #Saudi debut #sukuk cross $33bln

Saudi Arabia saw bids of $33 billion (Dh121.11 billion) for its record-breaking debut sukuk issue. The issue size of the sukuk could likely be $8 billion, spread across $4 billion each for the 5 year and 10 year tranche. The sukuk was priced at 100 basis points over mid-swaps for the 5-year tranche, and 145 basis points over mid-swaps for the longer dated issue. Anita Yadav, Senior Director of Global markets and treasury at Emirates NBD, said the yield on Saudi sukuk is likely to be attractive on relative value basis, which would appeal to the yield hungry international investor. Analysts expect larger institutions like Aramco or SABIC to take advantage and come the market. On an yearly basis, Emirates NBD expects $20 billion worth of issuance from Saudi Arabia including issues from the government, and state-run enterprises, banks and corporates.

#Kuwait's Warba Bank boosts its #realestate investments portfolio & acquires a facility of KIA Motors in #UK

Warba Bank has recently purchased a newly constructed UK vehicle imports-exports facility strategically located next to Immingham port. The property is leased to KIA Motors UK for unbreakable lease term of 20 years. The facility has a capacity of over 15,550 cars and totalling 86.68 acres (35.08 hectares) of land. In addition, the site also includes a warehouse space of 63,515 ft.² (5,901 m²), facilitating distribution, refurbishment, valet, inspection, refuelling, offices and gatehouses. The site receives on average c.1,200 vehicles a week. KIA anticipate 100,000 UK car sales target by 2020. Warba Bank’s CEO, Shaheen Hamed Al Ghanem, said this acquisition was one of the best risks mitigated real estate investment of the bank, generating a steady and secured return from unbreakable long lease. He elaborated that the investment plan for 2017 is highly ambitious and the bank is looking for more international real estate investment opportunities in USA, UK and other continental European countries.

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