Gulf News

Saudi Islamic banks’ financial metrics sound, says Fitch Ratings

According to Fitch Ratings, Saudi Islamic banks’ financial metrics deteriorated mildly in 2019 but remained sound. As for conventional banks, the rating agency noted that the impaired financing ratios continued to increase in 2019. Islamic banks have lower impaired financing ratios and financing impairment charges than conventional banks due to their lower proportion of corporate banking. Islamic banks’ profitability remained above conventional banks’ in 2019. Strong deposit growth at Islamic banks in 2019 allowed their financing/deposits ratio to drop below their conventional peers’. Saudi Islamic banks remain well capitalised, with an average Common Equity Tier 1 ratio of 17.8% at end-2019. According to Fitch, if the current economic disruption continues, weaker asset quality and profitability are likely to put pressure on capital.

Gulf bonds prove resilience amid virus-induced adversity

As investors dealt with volatility across most of its prized asset classes, Gulf bonds are emerging resilient after yet another crisis. The region’s debt markets did witness instances of sharp sell-off in the last few weeks, but analysts still see them ending the year strong. According to capital markets expert Anita Yadav, this year total new bond issuances will likely surpass the record $101 billion raised in 2019. So far this year, the GCC bond markets have stayed resilient, having in recent weeks only sold off 60% of emerging market debt and roughly 50% of high-yield debt. Net debt of sovereigns in the region still remains relatively low and credit ratings are relatively high compared with that of other emerging market countries.

Abu Dhabi based NMC Health’s trading arm sees major job cuts

More than 300 staff members at NMC Trading have been laid off and more are likely to follow. It was on April 9 that NMC was placed under administration on the UK High Court’s orders, following a request submitted by ADCB, the UAE bank with the highest loan exposure to the company. Letting go of its trading division could bring in some much needed funds for NMC Group. It's also part of the strategy to focus exclusively on core operations made up of its hospitals and clinics.

Gulf bonds prove resilience amid virus-induced adversity

Gulf bonds are emerging resilient after yet another crisis. In the last few weeks the pandemic-induced investor worries soared and oil prices plummeted, but analysts still see them ending the year strong. According to capital markets expert Anita Yadav, total new bond issuances in 2020 will likely surpass the record $101 billion raised in 2019. So far this year, the GCC bond markets have comparatively stayed resilient, having in recent weeks only sold off 60% of emerging market debt and roughly 50% of high-yield debt. Year-to-date GCC issuers have priced more than $47 billion of USD denominated bonds in international markets, nearly matching the $47.8 billion raised during the same period last year.

UK court's intervention is worst-case scenario, says NMC Health chairman

According to hospital operator NMC Health and its Executive Chairman Faisal Belhoul, getting placed in administration by a UK court order would be the "worst-case scenario" for the company’s future. The threat of coming under administration is a live one after Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank had filed a request with a UK court for NMC to be placed under a joint administration. ADCB – which has an exposure of Dh3.6 billion to NMC and affiliates - filed its request in a UK court because NMC Health is listed on London Stock Exchange. According to Belhoul, international institutional investors are keen to take an exposure in NMC despite its current predicament.

COVID-19 to impact GCC #sukuk issuance in 2020

According to rating agency Moody’s, Islamic finance is set to keep expanding in 2020 and beyond as the GCC countries and Malaysia help drive growth in Shariah-compliant financial products. Moody’s VP-Senior Credit Officer Nitish Bhojnagarwala expects sukuk issuance to remain stable at around $180 billion this year and the takaful insurance market will see steady growth. He added that downside risks are also rising because of the coronavirus outbreak, as prolonged market disruption could dissuade issuers from coming to market. The rating agency expects flat growth in total global issuance this year after a 36% rise in 2019 to $179 billion. Islamic banking penetration in the core Islamic financial markets of GCC, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey, increased to 31.2% in September 2019, from 25.5% in 2013.

Dubai Islamic Bank shareholders approve 35 per cent dividend

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) announced that the Annual General Meeting has approved the bank’s 2019 financial statements and other tabled resolutions. For the year 2019, DIB reported a net profit of over Dh5.1 billion, the highest ever in its history. The shareholders also approved the dividend pay-out of 35 fils per share, increase in the foreign ownership limit in the bank’s share capital from 25% to 40% and the election of DIB Board of Directors. With the recent acquisition of Noor Bank, DIB is set to become one of the largest Islamic banks in the world, with total assets exceeding Dh275 billion ($75 billion).

ADIB UK provides Dh120m acquisition funding

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) UK has provided financing for The Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) to acquire a Dh120 million (£26.95 million) Grade A office building in Edinburgh. The building is now leased to Centrica as their corporate headquarters in Scotland until 2035. The building has received several design awards including the Scottish Design Award for Commercial Interior and the British Council for Offices National and Regional Awards for Commercial Workplace. BLME is a UK Shari’ah compliant bank with a branch in the Dubai International Financial Centre, regulated by the DFSA. Boubyan Bank is BLME’s largest shareholder. BLME sources and co-invests in commercial real estate opportunities alongside professional investors from the Middle East.

Top ADCB executives appointed to lead Al Hilal Bank

Senior executives at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) were appointed to top leadership positions at Al Hilal Bank, as it prepares to be acquired by ADCB. Alaa Eraiqat was announced on Sunday as the new chairman of Al Hilal Bank, while Amr Al Menhali was announced as the private bank’s new chief executive officer. The appointments come just 10 days before the three-way bank transaction, which will see ADCB merge with Union National Bank and then acquire Al Hilal. The three banks are set to merge on May 1. The new merged entity, which will retain the name ADCB, is expected to own Dh420 billion in assets, and have around one million customers.

Emirates Islamic Bank's net profit surges 97% to Dh411 million

Emirates Islamic reported a net profit of Dh411 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 97% year-on-year and 54% quarter-on-quarter. Emirates Islamic CEO Salah Mohammed Amin said the bank recorded its highest ever quarterly net profit since its inception in 2004. The strong set of results was supported by balance sheet growth, higher funded income, growth in fee income and lower cost of risk. The bank’s total income for the first quarter increased by 12% to Dh663 million. The total assets at Dh60.6 billion, increased by 4% from end 2018. Impaired financing ratio is at 8.6% with a strong coverage ratio of 111%.

Growing demand to support Islamic #insurance premium growth

According to ratings agency Moody’s, the Takaful industry is expected to experience improved premium growth this year supported by growing demand from key regions such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Southeast Asia and Africa. Mohammed Ali Londe, AVP-Analyst at Moody’s, said that in the GCC region the compulsory motor and medical cover will support demand, as will economic activity linked to planned sporting and cultural events, such as 2020 Expo in the UAE and the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. Experts speaking at the 14th World Takaful & Insurtech Conference in Dubai said despite the slow pace of growth in premiums, the industry has huge potential for expansion.

RBI’s efforts to stabilise rupee hit country’s forex reserves, experts say

A strong US dollar and subsequent interventions by the country’s central bank to stabilise the rupee drained over $1.80 billion (Dh6.61 billion) from India’s foreign exchange reserves. Reserves plunged by $1.82 billion during the week ended August 10 to $400.88 billion from $402.70 billion reported one week earlier. According to Anindya Banerjee, deputy vice-president of Kotak Securities, the decline in Forex reserves can be attributed to the RBI’s intervention to stem the decline in rupee’s fall. Foreign currency assets fell sharply, but the value of the country’s gold reserves increased by $145.6 million to $20.69 billion.

GFH fully settles $200m #sukuk

Gulf Finance House (GFH) has fully settled its $200 million (Dh734 million) sukuk, which was originally drawn in 2007. The facility, which had its final maturity in July 2018, has now been settled with a recent payment of an outstanding amount of $34 million. GFH posted a 9% increase in its consolidated net profit for the first quarter to March. The total net profit rose to $36.89 million (Dh135.5 million) in the three months to March up from $33.55 million in the first quarter of 2017.

DIB donates Dh3m to Al Jalila Foundation

Al Jalila Foundation has received a donation of Dh3 million from Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) to support it’s Aawen (treatment) programme. Since its inception in 2013, Al Jalila Foundation has supported 467 patients from 36 nationalities, including 190 children, and invested Dh34 million to provide relief to patients who suffer from chronic illnesses. The treatment costs for patients, newborn to 90 years of age, have ranged from to Dh20,000 to Dh250,000 per individual.

ADIB launches 100% capital protected green notes

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) launched a 100% capital protected smart and green energy equities basket note. The investment note, which matures in 12 months, is open for subscription until July 28, with a 31% participation rate in the upside positive performance. According to Saif Al Keem, Head of Wealth Management & Priority Banking at ADIB, this new note from ADIB focuses on equities that are driving investments in clean technology and manufacturing smart energy on a global scale. There is a growing demand for solutions which can capture and store energy generated from wind and solar power, which provides significant opportunities for the manufacturers of efficient battery technology.

Dana Gas gets wide support from creditors for #sukuk restructuring

UAE energy producer Dana Gas announced that a large majority of holders of its outstanding $700 million sukuk had consented to a proposed restructuring of the notes. The company, which last year refused to repay creditors, reached last month a restructuring agreement after a long and complex legal battle. Following the launch of a tender and exchange offer on May 22, 93.69% of the holders approved the terms of the proposed restructuring, exceeding the minimum required 75% approval threshold.

Damac Properties lists $400m #sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai

Damac Properties listed $400 million (Dh1.4 billion) sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai. It is the third Sukuk listed by Dubai-based Damac Properties on Nasdaq Dubai, following a $650 million Sukuk listed by the company in April 2014 and a $500 issuance in April 2017. Damac Chairman Hussain Sajwani said Damac continues to expand its development portfolio at home and internationally. Furthermore, the listing on Nasdaq Dubai provides them high visibility around the world and an excellent regulatory framework. Dubai's sukuk listings have now reached a total nominal value of $59.72 billion, the highest amount of any listing venue in the world.

Dana Gas reports 27% increase in net profit in Q1 2018

Dana Gas reported a net profit of $14 million for the first quarter of 2018 compared to $11 million reported during the same period last year. The company attributed the increase in net profit to better realised prices and the positive arbitration settlement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). First quarter gross revenue reached $120 million compared to $118 million in the first quarter of 2017. During the first quarter of this year, group average production was 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), down 7% from 69,900 boepd in the first quarter of 2017. Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, said the first quarter 2018 saw Dana Gas continue to perform solidly from both a financial and operational perspective. The company recorded a 27% increase in net profit and higher revenues reflecting higher realised prices.

UBF launches handbook on financial literacy

UAE Banks Federation (UBF) launched its handbook 'Financial Literacy for Individuals'. Financial experts have often noted that consumer debt has been piling up, resulting primarily from a lack of financial knowledge. The 'Financial Literacy for Individuals' handbook highlights various aspects of borrowing, saving and the ways to manage debt efficiently. It highlights the benefits of investment, including financial security, wealth generation, financial preparedness for emergencies, as well as accomplishment of financial objectives. It also introduces the key investment products such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

GCC Islamic banks to outperform their conventional peers

According to ratings agency Moody’s, Islamic banks across the GCC are expected to outperform their conventional peers in the year ahead. Credit fundamentals have improved due to better underwriting practices and higher profitability. Along with their strengthening franchise, GCC Islamic banks have achieved sustainable improvements in their credit risk profiles. Their cost of risk is expected to stabilise at current levels driven by improvements in asset quality and risk management practices. Whereas these banks had to incur high provisioning charges on their loans and investments in the past, these charges have fallen to levels below those of conventional peers. New investments in distribution channels and technology could add to the costs. GCC Islamic banks are still making considerable investments in building their branch network and technology because they are younger and are more focused on reaching retail customers.

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