How Islamic finance plugs SME fund gap

Despite prominence in economic activity, SMEs face a funding challenge. November 2014 figures from showed that a mere 28% of respondents had resorted to bank financing, while a full 31% were self-funded. This is a gap that Islamic finance offerings can address. Despite this obvious synergy, Islamic finance is still gearing up to effectively service SME needs regionally. The first challenge is one of volume: there are simply not enough Shariah-compliant banks around. This has a chilling effect on SME financing, particularly in those countries where local SMEs won't consider non-Islamic finance. However, the picture is changing for the better as Islamic finance becomes mainstream and is supported by better regulation.

Islamic Development Bank in talks for Q1 sukuk issue - sources

Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has invited banks to pitch for roles in arranging a potential dollar-denominated sukuk, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The AAA-rated IDB is planning a benchmark-sized sukuk offering in the first quarter. IDB was not immediately available for comment. IDB, which last issued a $1 billion five-year Islamic bond in March, is looking to increase its issuance of sukuk, partly to raise its profile among international investors and to secure similar pricing levels to other development banks.

An Education on: The Harmonization of the Islamic Economy

Islamic finance is still not viewed as a viable career option by many college bound students. Neither is it offered at many colleges, especially in the Middle East. Over the last decade, the industry has witnessed impressive growth, but there has not been a corresponding increase in the education in terms of the availability of expertise. Many of the programs have addressed the academic need in terms of providing Bachelors- Masters and PhD programs. The investor, however, needs more. There is only a small group in the Islamic world that is interested in academic accreditation of that sort. The larger majority however, demand professional certifications.

Hogan Lovells advises on debut sukuk for the government of cote d'ivoire

Hogan Lovells has advised the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), as arranger, on the inaugural CFA150 Billion sukuk offering by the Government of Côte d'Ivoire. The sukuk is an amortising sukuk al-ijara and is targeted at local banks and institutional investors. It mirrors the successful Senegal sukuk that Hogan Lovells advised on in 2014. Hogan Lovells' team was led by Global Head of Islamic Finance, Rahail Ali and Partner Imran Mufti. They were assisted by Partner Baptiste Gelpi, International Debt Capital Markets, Paris and Lina Bugaighis, Dubai. Hogan Lovells is an international legal practice that includes Hogan Lovells International LLP, Hogan Lovells US LLP and their affiliated businesses.

Islamic International Rating Agency Assigns National Scale Investment Grade Ratings for Al Baraka Bank Sudan (ABBS), a majority owned subsidiary of Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG)

Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) has announced that Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has assigned national scale investment grade credit ratings of 'A- (SD)/A-2 (SD)' (A Minus/A Two) to Al Baraka Bank Sudan (ABBS or 'the bank'), its majority owned subsidiary in Sudan operating since 1984. Outlook on the assigned rating is 'Stable'. IIRA observed that ABBS maintains sizable liquid reserves, with solid liquidity and that asset quality indicators have improved and are better than the banking sector average. The bank achieved a general improvement in profitability, driven by consistent increase in gross revenue supported by low cost of deposit funding. The rating has taken into account the various economic and financial challenges faced by banks in Sudan.

IIRA assigns Fiduciary Ratings to Al Baraka Bank Sudan

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has assigned national scale credit ratings of 'A- (SD)/A-2 (SD)' (Single A Minus/A Two) to Al Baraka Bank Sudan (ABS). Outlook on the assigned rating is 'Stable'. Ratings derive strength from the bank's franchise and an overall conservative approach to business. Its retail presence in Sudan, is reflected in a cost effective deposit base. Ratings take into account the various economic and financial challenges faced by banks in Sudan. ABS derives strategic guidance from its parent's international experience and established banking processes and systems. The fiduciary score has been assessed in the range of '71-75', whereby rights of various stakeholders are adequately defined.

SUKUK PIPELINE - Issue plans around the world

The Thomson Reuters Global Sukuk Index closed last month at 117.01353, up from 115.79726 at the end of 2014. The Thomson Reuters Investment Grade Sukuk Index is at 115.29446 points against 113.69014 at end-2014. Some of the sukuk in the pipeline are: Samalaju Industrial Port proposed a sukuk murabaha programme of up to 950 million ringgit ($221 million). Singapore's Vallianz Holdings said in mid-December that a subsidiary would refinance loans with a Saudi riyal-denominated sukuk issue of up to 1.1 billion riyals ($293 million). Malaysia's Wego Sdn Bhd proposed a sukuk musharaka issue of up to 210 million ringgit. Qatar's Barwa Bank listed a $2 billion Islamic bond programme on the Irish Stock Exchange, taking it a step closer to tapping the sukuk market for the first time.

The IFSB Introduces FIS E-Learning Portal to Facilitate Understanding of the IFSB Standards

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) introduced the FIS E-Learning Portal. The portal provides both IFSB members and non-member organisations a learning and knowledge management suite with a number of interactive features that will assist in developing and enhancing knowledge as well as understanding of IFSB standards. The E-modules will cover seven standards which have been transformed into a total of 14 E-Learning modules with a collective seat time of 15 hours. The modules are available by subscription. As an extension of the IFSB membership benefits, a certain number of complimentary subscriptions are made available to organisations from the various categories of IFSB membership.

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) intend to strengthen the cooperation to serve the development of the Islamic finance industry

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM). The purpose of the MoU is to establish and implement a framework for the cooperation between the two parties for contribution to economic development and financial inclusiveness in the Asian and African region, and in so doing to enhance the ability of both organisations to achieve their respective objectives and mandates. The MoU was signed by Mr. Khaled Mohammed Al-Aboodi, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of the ICD, and Professor Datuk Rifaat Ahmed Abdel Karim, Chief Executive Officer of the IILM.

Free Falling: Falling Oil Prices and the GCC

The collapse in the price of oil, which began in June 2014, came as a surprise to industry analysts and insiders. They were quick to place blame on OPEC, for its perceived high production, and on China for slowing demand. The truth includes some of these elements but it is not the entire story. Much of the blame for the fall in the price of oil can be traced back to the U.S. Federal Reserve and financialization of the market. Shale producers are now stuck. Many were not profitable at $100 per barrel and are now faced with bankruptcy unless they can continue to refinance their debt and get new funding, which is highly unlikely at this stage.

IDB Group President underlines financing and capacity building to preserve climate

President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, led a high-level delegation to the "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)'s 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21)" underway in Paris, France. Addressing a side event dubbed: "Climate Change: Financing and Capacity Building Challenges", Dr. Ali expressed his pleasure to see 51 of IDB Group member countries amongst the more than 180 countries had submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The IDB Group President, stated that financing and capacity building featured prominently in the INDCs as two major areas for preserving environment.

IFC, Al Baraka Bank join forces to support Egypt's trade sector

International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Al Baraka Bank are cooperating to expand the availability of trade finance for Egyptian importers to help spur economic growth and create jobs. Under this agreement, Al Baraka Bank becomes the third Egyptian bank, and the first Islamic bank in the country, to join IFC's Global Trade Finance Programme (GTFP). IFC guarantees will help Al Baraka Bank clients import commodities that are critical to the local market, including raw materials, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers and spare parts that will support different manufacturing sectors. In fiscal 2015, IFC's GTFP committed over $1 billion in the Middle East and North Africa region and over $6 billion around the world.

Canada ready to become the Islamic Finance hub of North America

Thomson Reuters and the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA) have unveiled a major study, the Canada Islamic Finance Outlook 2016, during the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) held in Bahrain. Canada is looking to position itself as the regional hub for Islamic finance in North America. Its main competitor in the region, the United States, is a much larger market overall, but Canada has a proportionately larger Muslim population. This advantage is coupled with an arguably more favourable federal regulatory regime and an outward looking orientation that is potentially more favourable and conducive to the growth of Islamic finance.

Thomson Reuters and ICD launch the Islamic Finance Development Indicator

Thomson Reuters and Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) have released the key findings of the Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI) Report 2015. The report examines the key statistics and trends across five indicators that are deemed to be significant for measuring the development of the US$1.8 trillion Islamic finance industry. These include Quantitative Development, Knowledge, Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility and Awareness. According to the report, Malaysia leads IFDI again while GCC countries continue to dominate the top of the rankings for a third year in a row.

Market uncertainty slows down the sukuk market supply despite the increasing demand-Report

Thomson Reuters in partnership with Barwa bank released today the findings of its fourth consecutive Sukuk Perceptions and Forecast study. A buoyant 2014 had sukuk market players optimistic for another robust year but market uncertainty, especially with the drop in oil prices and the expected increase in global interest rates, have dampened activity in the market. The global sukuk market in 2015 welcomed significantly fewer new issuers compared to 2014. Total sukuk issued in the first 9 months of 2015 dropped a drastic 38.6% to $48.8 billion from $79.5 billion for the same period in 2014. The sukuk papers were a lso issued in 12 currencies in first nine months of 2015 compared to 16 over the same period in 2014.

Bahrain's Al Baraka Islamic eyes Kuwait sukuk

Al Baraka Islamic Bank-Bahrain is interested in purchasing Islamic bonds expected to be issued by the Kuwaiti government before the end of the year, CEO Mohamed Isa Al Mutaweh said. Kuwait's finance ministry said in September that it intends to issue bonds and sukuk before the end of 2015 to finance its public deficit, which is estimated to reach KWD 8 billion (USD 26.3 billion). The CEO said the bank, owned by Al Baraka Group, hopes to achieve growth in assets in line with the expected growth of the global Islamic banking at an annual average of 15-20%. Real estate financing accounts for around 40% of Al Baraka Islamic's portfolio in Bahrain and Al Mutaweh said the housing sector was expected to see strong activity due to rising demand.

AAOIFI Announces Availability of its Five New Publications to Participants in the AAOIFI-World Bank Conference, with special privileges

Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has published its new five issuances: the Shari'ah standards books (both in Arabic and English), the Accounting, Auditing, and Governance Standards and Codes of Ethics (both in Arabic and English), and the compendium of Shari'ah standards research papers. The new publications will be available for sale across various markets. They will be inaugurated at a special gala dinner to be hosted by AAOIFI on 6 December 2015 in Bahrain. The gala dinner will feature inauguration of the five hard copies editions as well as the digital version and the mobile and tablet applications, in addition to the launch of the projects of translating the Sharia standards to French and Russian languages, and other initiatives.

The IFSB Announces the Second Release of Prudential and Structural Islamic Financial Indicators (PSIFIs) for 16 Member Countries

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) is pleased to announce the second dissemination of its Prudential and Structural Islamic Financial Indicators (PSIFIs) from 16 member countries. The PSIFI data, which aims to provide data on the financial soundness and growth of the Islamic banking systems in participating IFSB member jurisdictions, covers the quarterly data from December 2013 to December 2014.
Secretary-General of the IFSB, Mr Jaseem Ahmed stated that "The support of multilateral organisations - such as the IMF, ADB and IDB - have greatly assisted the progress on this project. It is our aim to continue to expand the scope of the PSIFI to include the participation of new jurisdictions, as well as expansion of data to the Islamic capital market and Takaful sectors of the industry".

Lack of instruments a challenge for GCC Islamic banking industry: IMF

The inadequate availability of Sharia'a-compliant financial instruments is a challenge for the GCC Islamic banking industry, leading to excess liquidity and an uneven playing field for Islamic banks that might affect their growth, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
An IMF working paper released on Monday said liquidity management has been a long-standing concern in the Islamic finance industry as there is a general lack of Sharia'a-compliant instruments that can serve as high-quality short-term liquid assets.
'The inadequate availability of Sharia'a-compliant financial instruments seems to have forced Islamic banks to hold a significant amount of cash reserves, limiting the flexibility of the central bank's monetary operations with Islamic financial institutions. Therefore, a key challenge is to broaden the range of Sharia'a-compliant instruments and build liquid markets', the report said.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector support the venture capital industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB), in collaboration with Anfaal Capital agreed to establish a Saudi Arabia-focused venture capital fund.
The joint initiative aims to promote and foster the development of the domestic venture capital market in Saudi Arabia. The initiative leverages KAUST's expertise in new technologies, as well as the ICD SME Program's experience in the development and management of investment vehicles.

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