The Moroccan government granted state-owned Crédit Agricole of Morocco (CAM) approval to open a subsidiary of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). In addition to IDB, three foreign banks are looking to launch subsidiaries with domestic partners after Moroccan officials encouraged partnerships rather than fully owned subsidiaries. Morocco could see additional Islamic products introduced into the domestic market if new regulations are passed. Morocco will also see the introduction of mobile-to-mobile payments next year, which is expected to extend banking coverage, as well as reduce the number of cash transactions. New regulations will allow non-bank entities and individuals to open accounts to expand e-payments to transactions such as retail, utility and mobile phone payments.
The Shari’ah Board of AAOIFI held its annual meeting from 17 to 19 November 2016 in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The meeting was concluded with issuance of a number of resolutions as well as the adoption of two new Shari'ah standards. The new standard on the Liability of Investment Manager defines the concepts of transgression and negligence and breach of contractual stipulations on the part of the investment manager. The standard also sets out the Shari'ah rulings pertaining to investment manager's liability or volunteering to bear liability. AAOIFI has also approved a new standard on Gold and it Trading Controls. The standard will be officially launched at a press conference whose date will be announced shortly. It will also be published together with other standards in the new edition of AAOIFI's standards.
Trading of shares in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union National Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank were suspended on Sunday. The shares jumped last week because of renewed speculation that the Abu Dhabi government might engineer a merger between ADCB and UNB, and another between ADIB and Al Hilal Bank. Both moves would be part of an efficiency drive. There was no immediate official statement from the banks, but banking industry sources said the banks were expected to send statements denying that they had plans to merge.
The initial public offering of the Eskan Bank Realty Income Trust (REIT) has opened today. The BD 14.4 million offering represents 72.9% of the Trust’s total size of BD 19.8 million, and has a target of 6.5% in net distributable income payable semi-annually. This Sharia-compliant offering is reserved for Bahraini and GCC nationals and is open to individual and institutional applicants. Securities & Investment Company (SICO) is the mandated lead manager, while Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) has been appointed as the receiving bank. According to Eskan Bank's General Manager Dr. Khalid Abdulla, the REIT enables investors to share in a diversified portfolio of properties, namely Segaya Plaza and Danaat Al Madina, offering diversification within the real estate sector. The properties currently have an occupancy rate of over 85%, and the Trust intends to increase its Sharia-compliant property portfolio.
Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), a UAE based Islamic financial services company, announced the closing of US.$145 million fund raising for Apttus, a Silicon valley based software company. The funds will be used to complete the Quote-to-Cash customer process and the Procure-to-Pay supplier process. This is the fourth company out of Silicon Valley for which GII has raised funds for in the last 2 years, bringing the total amount raised to $350 million. GII further confirms a continuing partnership with Apttus to lend strong support to the company’s business development and market penetration in the GCC region. According to GII Founding Partner, Mohammed Alhassan, Apttus provides a golden opportunity at the level of business model and also in terms of achieving satisfying returns.
According to Standard Chartered Saadiq, much of the growth in Islamic finance is expected to come from capital markets business relating to sukuk. Ahsan Ali, Global Head of Islamic Origination, said that sukuk was a mainstream component of capital markets in core Islamic finance markets such as Malaysia and the UAE. There is a healthy pipeline of issuance across the world and more issuers are expected to come to the market over the next year. Although a significant share of capital market issuance have been dominated by conventional bond issuance and loan syndications, Ali expects GCC issuers to issue sukuks along with conventional bonds. In the future a pickup in issuance from Bank Negara Malaysia, coupled with the deficit financing needs of the GCC members is expected to boost issuance.
Djibouti plans to work on a framework to allow the use of sukuk to fund infrastructure projects. Djibouti is a relative newcomer to Islamic finance, having introduced sector-specific legislation in 2011. Central bank governor Ahmed Osman said the government has established a national sharia board to help oversee the sector, appointing five members to the independent body. The government is in discussions with the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank to help establish a framework to issue sukuk for either the government or state-owned enterprises. The central bank is also in discussions with two lenders seeking to open Islamic windows. Currently three of Djibouti's 10 banks are Islamic: Saba Islamic Bank, Salaam African Bank and East Africa Bank.
Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group plans to expand its network in Pakistan following its merger with Burj Bank. CEO Adnan Ahmad Youssef said the Group's strategy in the Pakistani market was built on expansion in all Pakistani cities. Burj Bank’s 74 branches will be added to those of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) to form a network of 224 branches. Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) aims to increase the number to 300 branches in the next four years. The merger is expected to take effect from the last quarter of this year, and the Bahraini bank will be the major shareholder in the merged institution. Al Baraka Banking Group is also setting up in Morocco after the North African nation introduced legislation allowing Islamic banks into the domestic market. With this entry the Group completes its network in almost all Arab Maghreb countries.
The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev met with the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Dr. Bandar Hajjar, on an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. President Nazarbayev praised the cooperation between IsDB and his country and congratulated Dr. Hajjar on his recent assumption of duties as the new IsDB Group President. President Nazarbayev plans to launch the program 100 Steps, which is designed to introduce structural and economic reforms to Kazakhstan. The program also envisages the launching of Astana International Financial Center as a center of excellence for financial services at regional and global level. President Nazarbayev called on IsDB to provide technical support in the fields of development and Islamic finance. Dr. Hajjar assured that the IsDB Group would provide the required technical assistance to support President Nazarbayev’s initiatives.
Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed underscores the importance of promoting its sukuk market to Qatar. Mohamed suggests to promote Malaysia’s sukuk industry and to invite the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) and Qatar-based Islamic banks to Malaysia and explore avenues for partnerships. The minister was in Qatar yesterday for a brief visit and met with major Malaysian companies and witnessed the signing of an MoU between Masskar Hypermarket and Infinity Channel. The minister said that there are several Malaysian companies in Qatar that would want to do more business in the fields of construction, services, consultancy, IT, and engineering. Malaysian ambassador Ahmad Jazri Mohamed Johar added that the minister’s visit also aims to enhance bilateral relations between Qatar and Malaysia, whose trade volume stood at around $1bn in 2015.
The Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) has been recently accepted as an institutional member of the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). The official signing ceremony was held at the CMA’s headquarters in Riyadh on 13 October 2016. The membership agreement was signed by Mohammad Bin Abdulla Al Jadaan, Chairman of CMA, and Hamed Hassan Merah, Secretary General of AAOIFI. Al Jadaan said the CMA was pleased to forge such a professional relationship with AAOFI, as their cooperation had always been successful. They had several joint activities and events, including a major international conference at al-Madinah al-Munawwarah and several training programs on essentials of Islamic finance and economics.
UAE-based telecommunications provider 'du' has been selected by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) to deliver opex-driven co-location services in the UAE. ADIB will be able to develop its operations with a foundation in secure data centre infrastructure as well as flexible and scalable network options. Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO of du, said the company's Data Centre and Managed Services are designed to enable rapid growth. ADIB will drive new cost-efficiencies while benefiting from infrastructure that is ready to scale and adapt as its business grows. du provides an ecosystem of network infrastructure to give customers easy access to Cloud service providers and markets across the MENA region. du’s data centre services won the best Enterprise Service award at Telecoms World Awards 2016.
More than 100 participants participated in the World Bank-Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) High-Level Seminar on Islamic Finance and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on October 6. The Seminar was highlighted by a keynote address by his Royal Highness Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Emir stressed the potential of Islamic finance to mobilise much needed capital to achieve the SDGs. Ms. Arunma Oteh, the Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank, similarly stressed the importance of Islamic finance as an agent for financial inclusion and for mobilising private investment in infrastructure. The panel discussion examined how countries are increasingly using Islamic finance to support developmental goals, and innovative sukuk structures supporting both physical and social infrastructure.
Nasdaq Dubai and IdealRatings has announced the launch of benchmark indices that track the performance of global Sukuk, in order to provide investors with new data to make informed trading decisions. The data includes daily movements in price and total return, with monthly updates on yield and other key indicators. It tracks a universe of more than 1,800 Sukuk globally, with eligibility criteria including a minimum issue size of 100 million US dollars. The Global Sukuk Index covers all currencies and has five sub-indices. The sub-indices reflect distinct segments of the market, which are: investment grade issuances, issuances by sovereigns, issuances by corporates, issuances by financial institutions and GCC issuances. According to Hamed Ali, CEO of Nasdaq Dubai, the indices add a valuable new stream of information to investors’ existing trading tools.
The Affin Bank Group hopes that its new new strategic alliance with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) will catapult both institutions to a new level. Affin Bank and ICD have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) where they agreed on strategic collaboration especially within the Asian region. The cooperation reflects ICD’s ambition to expand its geographic footprint and exert its influence within the Asian region. In the process, both parties will offer technical and advisory support particularly on product development and Shariah concepts. Mohammed Alammari, acting CEO of ICD, and Kamarul Ariffin Mohd Jamil, CEO of Affin Bank, signed the MoU. Mohammed Alammari expressed his strong support for the partnership.
A recent study on Islamic microfinance by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), Yale University and Tameweelcom found less price sensitivity by some consumers and a lot of focus on simplicity in product offerings and Shariah compliance. Consumers of financial products are in general price sensitive and as costs increase, demand goes down. It turned out that about 30% of Muslims always prefer a Shariah-compliant product with little price sensitivity. When given the option to choose between Islamic and conventional banking products, consumers are less likely to make a choice than if presented with only one of the products. The authors attribute this finding to the 'paradox of choice'. If a conventional bank thinks they can maintain market share by starting an Islamic window to offer Islamic products alongside conventional products, they may end up turning off consumers.
Al Rajhi Capital has announced the closing of a private placement subscription for the Al Rajhi European Real Estate Fund after raising SR581 million ($155 million) in equity. The five-year closed-ended fund will invest in income generating properties, such as warehouses occupied by solid tenants with long-term leases. The main geographic focus of the fund will be Western Europe. Gaurav Shah, CEO of Al Rajhi Capital, said that this fund marked the commencement of the global expansion of the company's real estate investment platform. Al Rajhi Capital has managed over $1 billion in transactions across the logistics and community retail space and recently successfully exited a $360 million fund focused on investing in KSA and UAE logistics.
Creditors of Kuwait's debt-laden Investment Dar are forming a team to restructure 813 million dinars ($2.7 billion) in debt. Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank, the Islamic investment company's largest creditor, is taking charge of forming the committee, which will be responsible for representing the roughly 70 to 80 creditors in negotiations with Investment Dar. Any deal remains complicated by a rise in the number of legal cases against Investment Dar. Another complication is that Investment Dar has been in legal dispute with Commercial Bank of Kuwait over part of its nearly 20% stake in Kuwait's Boubyan Bank, which is one of the assets it aims to hand over to creditors.
Amid challenging economic conditions, the Islamic banking sector in Oman achieved significant growth since its start in 2012. The total assets of Islamic banks and windows combined, amounted to RO 2.7 billion as at the end of July 2016 which constituted about 8.5% of the total banking system assets. According to Khalid Howladar, Global Head of Islamic Finance at Moody’s, the growth has been a result of the Omani government’s strategy that has allowed conventional banks to offer Islamic services. Howladar addted that the growth is driven by strong retail demand and proactive government legislation. Across the GCC the Islamic banking sectors have been experiencing growth in their respective market shares with the lone exception of Kuwait.
Fitch Ratings has assigned Bahrain's proposed US dollar-denominated sovereign global sukuk trust certificates, to be issued by CBB International Sukuk Company 5 (CBB5), an expected 'BB+(EXP)' rating. Fitch has also assigned Bahrain's proposed US dollar-denominated bonds an expected 'BB+(EXP)' rating. The expected ratings are in line with Bahrain's Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR), which was downgraded to 'BB+' with a Stable Outlook in June 2016. Certain aspects of the sukuk transaction will be governed by English law while others will be governed by laws of Bahrain. Fitch's rating on the certificates reflects the agency's belief that the Bahraini government would stand behind its obligations.