Zawya

UNHCR's Refugee #Zakat Fund raises $38.1mln; assists 111,209 families

The UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund has raised $38.1 million in six months and supported 111,209 families (648,476 individuals) across seven countries. The United Nations' refugee agency’s zakat fund is a Sharia-compliant structure that channels zakat funds to the most vulnerable refugees. It is a dedicated non-interest-bearing account in Switzerland. Due to generous contributions from donors across the globe, the fund surpassed the fundraising target of $26 million originally set for 2019. The largest three destination countries comprise Yemen ($13.5 million); Jordan ($0.7 million), and Lebanon ($0.6 million). The remainder of the funds are mostly assigned to help some 670,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and distribution is in progress.

Noor Bank collaborates with Unionpay international to launch EMVCo QR-based mobile payment solution

Noor Bank has partnered with UnionPay International to inaugurate the bank’s EMVCo QR-based mobile payment service that allows consumers in the UAE to make instant and secure payments on the go. Customers and merchants across the country can now leverage UnionPay QR code scanning for all their payments. The launch ceremony was attended by Han Wang, General Manager-Middle East of UnionPay International, and John Iossifidis, CEO of Noor Bank. In the UAE, UnionPay is accepted nationwide both on POS terminals and ATM machines, acceptance rate is 100% and more than 60% on POS terminals for the UnionPay card and QuickPass. The new solution is expected to create wider acceptance and increase the number of current QR-code-enabled merchants in the country by end-2019.

Kuwait Finance House launches open banking

Kuwait Finance House-Bahrain (KFH-Bahrain) has announced going live with advanced open banking infrastructure, which will allow it to partner with innovative fintech firms. The kingdom is one of the earliest global adopters of mandatory open banking, putting it at the vanguard of customer-driven change in financial services. KFH-Bahrain is one of the first banks to integrate a fintech through the launch of its KFH Jazeel banking platform in partnership with Tarabut Gateway, a subsidiary of Almoayed Technologies. According to KFH-Bahrain executive manager Mohammed Fahmi Hamad, open banking will allow bank account holders to consent to sharing details of their accounts and payments history to licensed third-party providers to make more aware financial decisions. In addition to that, customers will soon be able to link their accounts to independent licensed applications.

INTERVIEW: Major Gulf sovereign wealth funds gear up for ESG investing

Four Gulf countries are laying the groundwork to be aligned to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards through their sovereign wealth funds’ undertakings. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) are among founding members of 'One Planet Sovereign Wealth Funds'. The aim is to accelerate integration of financial risks and opportunities related to climate change in the management of long-term asset. A recent Moody’s report said that ESG risks are becoming more significant as regulatory policies, market developments and social attitudes change rapidly, putting the banks under growing pressure to integrate ESG considerations into their investment decisions.

UAE lender ADCB plans to cut 2,000 jobs post-merger: Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) is planning to slash about 2,000 jobs in the near future. In May ADCB, Union National Bank (UNB), and Al Hilal Bank merged to create the UAE’s third largest bank with 423 billion dirhams ($115 billion) in assets. Before the merger, the three banks employed about 8,500 people. ADCB started laying off employees once it began the merger with the two other banks. While the new entity retained the name ADCB, UNB was delisted and dissolved as a legal entity. Meanwhile, Al Hilal Bank retains its existing identity and continues to operate as a separate Islamic bank within the ADCB Group.

Sharjah Islamic Bank raises $500mln #sukuk

Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) raised $500 million in its debut Additional Tier 1 (AT1) sukuk at the lowest price of 5%. Accordingly, the bank’s AT1 Sukuk yield is the lowest in the region, down from 5.25% in 2015. The lender has received orders of $4.8 billion or 9.5x oversubscription from many investors, as well as nearly 209 individual orders from Asia, GCC, and Europe. SIB has appointed Citi, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank as joint global coordinators. It also hired Joint Structuring Agents along with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Bank ABC, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, KFH Capital, and Standard Chartered Bank as the joint lead managers and joint bookrunners. The sukuk is a Non Call 6 years Perpetual Instrument which will reset to 6 years Treasuries in 2025.

Saudi Arabian issuers boost #sukuk in first five months of 2019

According to S&P Global Ratings, the sukuk market enjoyed a strong start to the year but it may not last. S&P Global Ratings Head of Islamic Finance, Mohamed Damak said high levels of liquidity in Indonesia, Turkey's efforts to tap all available financing sources, and the return of Qatari and Saudi Arabian issuers to the market have boosted issuance of sukuk 17.6% in the first five months of 2019. S&P expects the total Sukuk issuance will average $105 billion-$115 billion this year, assuming the Brent oil price stabilizes at $55 per barrel. This follows a mild performance in 2018 when issuance dropped to $114.8 billion, a 5% decline compared with 2017; US dollar Sukuk alone fell by 15% year on year. Tightening liquidity conditions, high geopolitical risks in the Middle East, and challenges inherent to sukuk issuance will likely dampen sukuk market performance in 2019.

Dubai developer The First Group to issue $135mln #sukuk

Dubai-based real estate developer The First Group plans to issue $135 million in sukuk. The developer has appointed investment bank Shuaa Capital to arrange the planned transaction. The First Group specialises in hotel investments. It has completed 11 projects in the UAE to date and has seven hospitality developments under construction. This issuance is one of few debt issues in the pipeline in the Gulf region after business slowed sharply during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week.

IFSB database disseminates data for Islamic Banking Systems in 22 countries

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has published country-level data on financial soundness and growth of the Islamic banking systems for Q3 and Q4 of 2018 from 22 IFSB member jurisdictions. A special feature of this publication is the inclusion of full-fledged Islamic banking data of Kazakhstan for the first time as Kazakhstan joined the database project in January 2019. The total assets of the Islamic banking industry stand to USD 1,754 billion in 2018Q4 from USD 1,684 billion in 2017Q4. Financing by Islamic banks from the participating jurisdictions reached USD 1,052 billion in 2018Q4 from USD 1,024 billion in 2017Q4. The IFSB Task Force has been greatly facilitating the collection of Islamic banking data. The database is available at the IFSB website https://psifi.ifsb.org.

IFSB issues working paper on risk-sharing in Islamic Banking

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) issued its 10th research (WP-10) in the IFSB Working Paper series which explores the risk-sharing practices in the Islamic banking sector. It describes the views of both Islamic banks and regulatory and supervisory authorities (RSAs) on the practices of Islamic banks in IFSB member jurisdictions. This is in relation to the governance rights of unrestricted profit-sharing investment account (UPSIA) holders. The findings in WP-10 reveal that the capital treatment of the UPSIA in general varies across different jurisdictions and Islamic banking type. In most of the jurisdictions UPSIAs are considered to be 'investments' exposed to losses rather than 'deposits' with capital certainty.

#Kuwait International Bank starts marketing $300mln #sukuk

Kuwait International Bank started marketing $300 million perpetual sukuk to boost its tier 1 capital, with a yield of around 6.25%. Perpetual bonds mimic some of the characteristics of equity because they lack a maturity date. Citigroup, Dubai Islamic Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, KAMCO Investment Co, KFH Capital Investment Company, and Standard Chartered Bank have been hired to lead the transaction.

Abu Dhabi bank delays instalments on personal financing in Ramadan

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) revealed it would postpone a monthly instalment for its personal finance customers at no extra charge during the holy month of Ramadan. ADIB annually offers flexible payment to customers during Ramadan to meet their individual needs. Philip King, global head of Retail at ADIB, noted that customers eligible for the Ramadan payment postponement initiative would be informed by SMS, adding that the offer is valid for instalments due between 1 May and 31 May. However, customers are free whether to withdraw or maintain making instalment payments. Throughout the holy month, ADIB hosts Ramadan tents across the UAE that organise Iftars managed by the bank’s employees who have volunteered to be part of the initiative.

Global #sukuk market to hit $2.7trln by 2030: Franklin Templeton

According to investment management firm Franklin Templeton, the global sukuk market is set to grow at a compound annual rate of around 15% to reach $2.7 trillion by 2030. Global sukuk issuance stood at over $477 billion at the end of last year, but has slowed somewhat in recent years. Ratings agency S&P in January described sukuk issuance as 'mild' in 2018, as the total amount of sukuk issued dropped by 5% to $114.8 billion. It forecast issuance of $105 billion-$115 billion for 2019. Mohieddine Kronfol, head of fixed income at Franklin Templeton, forecasts that the growth continues at a relatively rapid pace. In GCC markets several corporate entities have been issuing debut sukuk in recent months. Saudi Telecommunications Company issued its debut $1.25 billion sukuk on Sunday, following on from Saudi food company Almarai’s first $500 million sukuk in February.

INTERVIEW: Gulf banking consolidation 'long overdue' - Investcorp's co-CEO

According to the co-chief executive of Bahrain’s Investcorp, Rishi Kapoor, consolidation in the financial services industry in the region is long overdue. Consolidation in banking would build the scale required to increase investments in financial technology, as payment solutions are increasingly enabled by fintech. The banking sector in the Gulf Arab region is seen as overcrowded, an M&A deal among banks is currently either in the pipeline or has taken place within the past few months. Investcorp’s co-chief also expects more M&A in the region’s disorganised retail sector, particularly in Saudi Arabia. As for the sectors that offer attractive investment opportunities within the Gulf region, Kapoor favours the sectors related to privatisation, social infrastructure and domestic consumption.

#Egypt to get $1bln for basic goods from Islamic Bank - ministry

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) will provide Egypt with $1 billion to support the provision of basic goods. The financing is part of a $3 billion agreement with the ITFC, which is part of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Egypt's economy was battered after a 2011 uprising ushered in political instability that scared off tourists and foreign investors.
Earlier this week Egypt signed contracts with two global banks to hedge against fluctuating global oil prices. The investment ministry said the ITFC financing was part of a new cooperation strategy between Egypt and the IDB lasting until 2021.

Abu Dhabi Investment Council increases Al Hilal Bank's capital

Abu Dhabi Investment Council has increased the share capital Al Hilal Bank by AED 400 million. Al Hilal Bank's CEO Alex Coelho said this move will allow the lender to meet the growing demand for Islamic finance by investing in areas with the greatest prospects. The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) raised this year’s economic growth forecast to 2.7% from its previous projection of 2.5% while non-oil GDP growth is forecast to increase to 3.9% this year from 3.4% in 2017.

Noor exits $6mln stake in #Pakistan’s Meezan Bank

Noor Financial Investment announced selling 9 million shares or 0.85% of its equity ownership in Meezan Bank, Pakistan's first and largest Islamic bank. The equity transaction is valued at $5.57 million or KWD 1.68 million. Following this exit transaction, Noor currently owns 39.53% equity in Meezan Bank. The financial impact of this transaction will be a profit of KWD 293,000 that will be registered in Noor's income statements of the third quarter of 2018, in addition to an increase of KWD 648,000 in the shareholders' equity rights. In mid-July, Noor announced selling 27.23 million shares or 2.56% of its equity in Meezan Bank at a value of $15.76 million or KWD 4.77 million.

Algosaibi signs grant agreement with Ebdaa Bank

The Algosaibi Holding Group has signed a grant agreement with Ebdaa Bank. This grant of BD100,000 ($263,000) will enhance the bank’s financial solvency and increase its ability to expand borrowers list which currently includes more than 2,500 borrowers. The agreement was signed by Dr Khalid Al Ghazawi, CEO of Ebdaa Bank, and Fawaz Algosaibi, CEO of Algosaibi Holding. As a nonprofit social financing, Ebdaa Bank seeks to help low-income Bahraini make their way to business. Fawaz Algosaibi praised the efforts made by Ebdaa Bank to provide easy financing for low-incomers and for the prudent management practices implemented by the Bank. He expressed his full confidence in the ability of the bank to manage the amount of support and maximize the benefits.

Fitch: #UAE Reforms Aid #Sukuk Market; Implementation Still Key

The UAE's Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) said that issuers of Islamic securities should improve disclosure. Issuers should specify how transaction resources and revenues would be treated if a security were deemed no longer compatible with the provisions of sharia. Issuers should also specify whether the Islamic securities being issued are tradeable under sharia rules. In addition, the SCA set out basic provisions for the composition and responsibilities of sharia boards. The SCA regulation provides a general framework for disclosure around these issues, not a detailed template. Nevertheless, the regulation is one of a number of initiatives that could support the UAE's sukuk market.

GII Islamic REIT acquires $32mln office in Dubai

GII Islamic REIT has acquired an AED 117.54 million two-floor office property in Downtown Dubai developed by Emaar Properties. The property is under a lease agreement with a global professional services firm, whose term will end after three years. The property was sold in consideration of $32 million with gross yields of around 8%. According to Mohammed AlHassan, CEO of GII, this is a high-quality acquisition for the REIT, and is consistent with GII REIT’s strategy to distribute 8% annual dividend to investors net of all costs.

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