Zawya

IRTI Signs MoU with Al-Manhal to Boost Dissemination of Islamic Finance Literature

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group has signed an agreement with Al-Manhal, a provider of electronic scholarly publications, to host IRTI's Islamic finance publications in Al-Manhal electronic databases. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) provides for electronic versions of IRTI's publications--including books, reports, training manuals, and conference proceedings--to be made available to Al-Manhal subscribers that include universities, government agencies, corporations, and public libraries. IRTI Director General, Prof. Mohamed Azmi Omar, and Al-Manhal representative, Mr. Rany Al Baghdadi, jointly signed the MoU at the IDB Headquarters in Jeddah.

Global Islamic Wealth Management Industry Faces Trust Deficit

A global survey on the Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) of the Global Islamic Wealth Management Industry conducted by Edbiz Consulting revealed that the global Islamic wealth management industry is facing a trust deficit that is hampering the growth of the industry. 48% of the respondents said they have never used any Islamic wealth management products and services, citing lack of understanding, lack of trust and preference to manage own wealth as reasons for not subscribing. Dr Sofiza Azmi, Group CEO of HD-Edbiz Group of Companies highlighted that 40% of Islamic wealth is concentrated in non-Muslim countries.

Tokio Marine Egypt General Takaful plans 56% rise in investments this FY

Insurer Tokio Marine Egypt General Takaful plans to increase its investments in the country by 56 percent in the financial year 2015/16 to 46.8 million Egyptian pounds (5.3 million), its managing director said. Satoshi Furuya further said that the group's investments had surged to 30 million pounds by the end of the financial year 2014/15. Tokio Marine Egypt General Takaful's investments are Shariah-compliant, notably in governmental bonds, treasury bills, in addition to deposits in investment accounts with Islamic banks, Furuya added. The company is part of Japan-based Tokio Marine Group.

GCC to introduce VAT Jan. 1, 2018

GCC government officials confirmed that value-added tax (VAT) will be introduced as of January 1, 2018, a statement from EY said at the conclusion of the EY-hosted annual MENA Tax Conference in Dubai on March 16. The MENA tax conference featured a session on preparing for VAT in the GCC, providing status updates on the tax implementation and the actions that companies in the region need to take. The introduction of VAT will diversify government revenue sources and reduce reliance on oil revenues to finance government expenditures. The additional revenues collected are likely to fund programs for the development of job opportunities for nationals and improve education and healthcare in the GCC.

The IFSB and Banco De Espana to Organise Seminar on Islamic Finance: The Real Economy and the Financial Sector

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) is organising a Seminar on Islamic Finance with the theme, "The Real Economy and the Financial Sector" on 24 May 2016 in Madrid, Spain, supported by the Banco de Espana and in collaboration with the IE Business School, Spain. This Seminar is part of the IFSB European Forum series, held in prominent financial centres in Europe. The one-day 'Seminar on Islamic Finance' is designed to encourage broad interaction among the delegates to explore the potential re-alignment of economic policy frameworks in a manner that strengthens the linkages between the real economy and the financial sector.

SAR 3.6 Billion Financing for Jeddah Economic City Project

Alinma Jeddah Economic City Fund has secured shari'a compliant financing of up to SAR 3.6 Billion from Alinma Bank on December 10 2015. Formulating the financial model of the project with Alinma Bank was finalized based on a financing strategy that fulfills the project's needs in accordance with the first business plan covering the first phase of the project which is expected to take five years. The objective of the financing is to provide funding to build and develop the infrastructure for phase one of Jeddah Economic City project and to continue the construction of Jeddah Tower.

Ithmaar Bank's retail banking subsidiary in Pakistan, Faysal Bank Limited, reports record growth in 2015

Bahrain-based Ithmaar Bank has announced that its retail banking subsidiary in Pakistan, Faysal Bank Limited, has registered a record profit for 2015. Faysal Bank registered a profit, after tax, of US$ 41mn (PKR 4.2bn) during 2015, a 70 percent increase over the profit reported for 2014. During the year, the bank's operating income increased by 95 percent, growing from US$ 35mn (PKR 3.5bn) in 2014 to US$ 67mn (PKR 6.9bn) in 2015. Total assets increased by 11 percent to US$ 4bn (PKR 430bn) as of 31 December 2015, compared to US$ 3.7bn (PKR 388bn) as at 31 December 2014. Faysal Bank also announced a cash dividend of PKR 1 per share (10 percent of share par value) for 2015.

Madinah governor opens SR52m 'Charity City'

Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman launched on Monday a 14-story complex costing SR52 million that would house all the region's charities. Speaking at the opening, Prince Faisal, who is also chairman of the Charitable Society for Social Services, said the complex would have state-of-the art facilities that would streamline services to the needy. Abdul Barie bin Awadh Al-Thibaiti, secretary general of the society, said the new building would generate much-needed funds for charitable activities. He said the 30-year-old organization helps more than 6,000 students a year on a five-year budget of SR33 million.

'Excellent future' for Mena Islamic bonds, says NBAD

The future of Islamic bonds in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) seems "excellent" in the medium-to-long term, but lack of supply and right price is "stifling" demand and liquidity in the market, according to NBAD. Finding that oil prices will be a key determinant of sukuk returns in 2016, NBAD said the uncertainty over the likely trajectory in the US interest rates, the bear market in oil, and increasing fiscal concerns across the region all contributed to a bearish tone in the market, causing many issuers to remain on the sidelines. Although GCC sukuk investors remain natural buyers, they have tightened their credit quality criteria, and become much more price sensitive.

Mena sovereign borrowings rise sharply

The Middle East and Northern African (Mena) sovereigns are expected to borrow an equivalent of $134bn from long-term commercial sources in 2016. This compares with borrowing of $143bn in 2015, which was more than double the $68bn that the region is expected to be borrowed in that year, Standard and Poor's "Mena Sovereign Debt Report 2016" noted. However, the ratings agency noted that its updated estimate for 2015 includes an additional $30bn in borrowing by Iraq. It has included Iraq in the survey for the first time, having assigned it sovereign credit ratings in September 2015. All in all, it is estimated that GCC countries' borrowing at $40bn in 2015 rather than the $5bn S&P projected in March 2015.

Market focus: Abu Dhabi

The region's thriving asset management sector saw a further addition towards the end of last year with the launch of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). The new financial centre is likely to mark a bold step for the emirate's plans to attract new firms and develop the local asset management sector. As the UAE's richest emirate, Abu Dhabi is already home to a large number of wealthy investors and a thriving financial services community. Despite the close proximity of northern neighbour Dubai's highly successful DIFC, industry participants have welcomed the addition of the ADGM to the region. Abu Dhabi is home to the region's largest sovereign wealth fund (SWF) in the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and a number of other multi-billion dollar funds also call the emirate home.

"Omar Al Mukhtar" social housing project in Sijoumi reaches progress rate of 65%

The progress rate of the second phase of the social housing project "Omar Al Mukhtar" in Sidi Hassine Sijoumi (capital western suburbs) is now 65% and the project will be completed by late August 2016. The handover of keys is expected before the end of 2016, noted the Minister of Public Works, Housing and Spatial Planning Mohamed Salah Arfaoui, at a visit Tuesday to the site of the project along with Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. The project with an estimated cost of nearly 54 million dinars financed by Qatar through a donation (40%) and a free-interest loan (60%) will help build 810 social residential units.

Demand for Islamic wealth management keeps growing

Growing demand for asset-based investments in times of fiscal insecurity in major economies in the world and the fact that still only a small portion of the estimated $11.5tn worth of wealth owned by Muslim individuals, institutions and governments is managed by Islamic financial institutions has turned the attention of investors towards Islamic wealth management. According to Malaysia-based International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA), there is a lot of potential to tap for Islamic wealth managers: As of the fourth quarter of 2015, total global Islamic assets under management were "just" $58bn and the number of Islamic funds worldwide stood at a meagre 1,053. This compares to $56.4tn of wealth owned by all high-net worth individuals globally combined and to more than 9,200 investment funds in the US alone.

Banking on wealth

There are nearly 500,000 high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in the GCC alone; these clients hold roughly $1.7 trillion of assets. A large majority of them are Muslims. If you look at the larger banks, be it in Switzerland, or in other established jurisdictions, it is mainly in the conventional banking space that wealth management solutions are offered to clients. The low oil prices have had an impact on liquidity and the cost of funds. As the demand for Islamic wealth management solutions is primarily from the GCC region and the sentiments in the region are weak due to the low oil prices, investors could take the wait and watch approach.

GFH reports net profit for 2015

GFH Financial Group (GFH) has announced its full year financial results for 2015 with a consolidated profit of US$ 29 million before provisions of US$17 million, and a net profit of US$ 12.0 million, signaling sustained profitability for the Group. Total consolidated income for 2015 was US$85 million, as compared to US$90 million in 2014. Net profit for 2015 was US$ 12 million compared to net profit of US$ 27.3 million for 2014. Commercial banking income attributed to US$57.8 million and investment banking income attributed to US$20.1 million, while real estate has contributed US$5.6 million. The Group reported a loss of US$ 5.95 million for the last quarter of 2015 compared to a profit of US$ 4.2 million for the last quarter of 2014.

A pioneering spirit

Euris Group wants to develop Islamic Finance in Europe. The firm designed a banking concept and is now promoting its project, a Shari'ah compliant private bank in Luxembourg. The European market remains fragmented and far from comprehensive. To fill the gap, it's necessary to build a pure player, i.e. a fully fledged Islamic bank in the Eurozone. From there, a lot will remain to be done: entering the retail and commercial banking space, providing Takaful solutions to European customers and exploring the relevant investment banking opportunities, especially when it comes to European Sukuk. Euris Group chose Luxembourg because it occupies a central position at the heart of the Eurozone.

Al Baraka Banking Group Net Profits Raise by 4% to US$ 286 million in 2015, Total Operating Income Reached US$ 1 billion for the First Time and Total Assets Reached US$ 25 billion

Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group B.S.C (ABG) announced that its total operating income reached one billion dollars in 2015 for the first time since the start of the Group activities 12 years ago due to continued growth in income-generated business at all the Group units, while the net income for the year reached US$ 286 million in 2015, an increase of 4% on the net income achieved in 2014. Similarly, balance sheet items witnessed moderate increases as total assets increased by 5%, total finance and investments by 4%, customer accounts by 2% while total equity increased by 1% as at the end of December 2015 in comparison with the end of December 2014.

Al Baraka Bank to pump $127.7mn in Egypt SMEs this year: chairman

Al Baraka Bank Egypt, part of Bahrain's Al Baraka Group (ABG), is planning to pump one billion Egyptian pounds (US$127.7 million) to support Egyptian SMEs, its chairman Ashraf El-Ghamrawy said. The investments, with a five percent interest rate, are in favour of the central bank's initiative to advocate small and medium-sized enterprises. Earlier, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the banking sector would inject 200 billion Egyptian pounds ($25 billion) to support small and medium businesses. Within this year, Al Baraka Bank Egypt plans to sign a new partnership worth 200 million pounds with the Social Fund for Development (SFD) to finance small and medium businesses led by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

CIBAFI to discuss profound structural problems in the Islamic Micro and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSME) in Jeddah.

The General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) tackles the profound structural problems in the Islamic Micro and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSME) finance industry. The recent CIBAFI Global Islamic Bankers Survey from 83 Heads of Islamic banks in 35 countries revealed that MSME finance serves as the second key driver of sustainable growth of Islamic banks. Nonetheless, expanding this business line depends on the development of external factors of this market segment, as well as on how Islamic financial institutions can enhance their technical infrastructures in serving MSMEs. CIBAFI has therefore started the initiative to organize a series of Roundtable Meetings on the topic.

Rawabi Vallianz Offshore Services issues SR1b sukuk

RAWABI Vallianz Offshore Services (RVOS), an equally-owned joint venture between Rawabi Holding and Vallianz Holdings Limited, has appointed Alinma Investment Co., Saudi Fransi Capital, Saudi Hollandi Capital and GIB Capital LLC as Joint Lead Managers and Book-Runners for its first issuance of a SR1 billion Shariah - compliant sukuk. The sukuk were sold through a private placement to sophisticated investors in full and are to be used to partially finance the marine assets of RVOS over a period of five years. Rawabi Holding provides a range of products and services in the fields of oil and gas, petrochemicals, engineering and construction, power and manufacturing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. Vallianz Holdings Limited is a provider of offshore support vessels and integrated marine solutions to the oil and gas industry.

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