Mahmood Hashim Al Kooheji, the head of Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat, is intent on brokering safe, considered deals that yield long-term growth. The wealth fund is taking an increased interest in the comparatively stable sectors of healthcare, education and industry. As evidence of this strategy, Mumtalakat last year took an undisclosed equity stake in Italian healthcare firm KOS Group. In October 2015, Mumtalakat took a majority stake in UAE-based GEMS Education as part of an investment group that included US private equity firm Blackstone. Al Kooheji expects another deal to be reached next year to launch GEMS schools in Bahrain. He also points out that Mumtalakat announced six new deals in 2016, a significant number for a small fund. According to Al Kooheji, Mumtalakat is now truly diversifed in the GCC, US, UK and Europe and this will continue in the future.
Noor Bank CEO Hussain Al Qemzi has ruled out possibilities of any possible mergers in the UAE’s Islamic banks. The last merger is between First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi, expected to complete by end of first quarter 2017. The merged entity is likely to create one of the largest banks in the Middle East and Africa, with assets of $175 billion (AED642bn). Al Qemzi said Islamic banks need innovation to integrate and position themselves to offer value and a better choice for Muslim and non-Muslim customers in order to grow. The CEO said a shortage of Sharia scholars was also impeding growth of the Islamic finance industry with many institutions in the country sharing advisors.
Dubai-based Emirates Islamic Bank has priced a $250 million tap of an existing Islamic bond issued in May. The tap was priced at 170 basis points over midswaps, the order book was worth $706 million. The 'new' deal is a copy of an existing bond with the same terms and conditions. Emirates Islamic's tap came off a $750 million five-year sukuk issued on May 23. That deal was priced at 220 bps over midswaps and carried a coupon of 3.542 percent. Chief Executive Jamal bin Ghalaita said the cash would support the bank's long-term growth and development plans. The new offering was arranged by Bank ABC, Dubai Islamic Bank, EMCAP and Standard Chartered.
Hackers have leaked files online containing data on thousands of customers of Sharjah-based Investbank UAE. The files were stolen last December when an individual tried to blackmail the bank for $3 million. When the bank refused to pay, the hacker threatened to dump the stolen files online, yet they never appeared. Security expert Mohammad Amin Hasbini warned that the hackers are going to release data from a second attack. According to Softpedia, the hacker group is Bozkurtlar, the same group that claimed responsibility for the Qatar National Bank data breach two weeks ago.
Abu Dhabi’s new financial centre has been running for six months but the corridors still feel quiet. Almost 200 people have been hired to work for Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) since its inception in 2013 but they are nowhere to be seen. Commentators have warned that ADGM’s established neighbour the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) could prevent it from flourishing, and argued it is unwise to locate two financial centres in such close proximity.
Dubai-based property developer Limitless is set to complete a drawn-out debt restructuring after the final dissenting creditor sold its share of the company's 4.45 billion dirhams ($1.2 billion) debt. New York-based Stonehill Capital Management sold its debt in the state-controlled company, worth around $15 million at face value, to Dubai Islamic Bank, an existing creditor and one of the members of the creditor committee. They declined to say at what price the debt was bought.
Global investment management firm Arcapita has acquired a logistics park in Dubai for a total transaction value of approximately $100 million.The investment comprises nine freehold plots of land in the Al Quoz Industrial area covering an area of approximately 630,000 square feet, located next to Al Khail Road. The site will consist of 10 completed warehousing facilities that will be under a long term master lease with a UAE conglomerate. Martin Tan, Arcapita’s chief investment officer, expects Dubai’s logistics market to experience growth, driven by its geographical location and legislation.
Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has listed its latest sukuk worth $500 million on Nasdaq Dubai, bringing the bank’s total sukuk listings on the region’s international exchange to $3.25 billion. Following a total of seven sukuk listings this year by regional and international issuers, the total value of sukuk currently listed in Dubai has reached $42.61 billion, the largest amount of any listing centre in the world, underlining the rapid expansion of Dubai as a global capital of the Islamic Economy. Given the challenging market conditions, it was critical to have a strong credit come in and successfully close a deal, said Dr Adnan Chilwan, group CEO, DIB.
Nogaholding, the holding company for oil and gas assets owned by the government of Bahrain, signed to obtain a five-year, $570 million murabaha financing facility. The Islamic funding will support investment in a number of large oil and gas projects in the kingdom, including the BAPCO Modernisation Programme, a liquefied natural gas import terminal, and the Bahrain Gas Plant Project. The facility is provided by 10 international, regional and local institutions: Arab Banking Corp, Ahli United Bank, Arab Petroleum Investments Corp, Gulf International Bank, National Bank of Bahrain, Qatar Islamic Bank, Kuwait Finance House, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, BNP Paribas and HSBC.
The chairman of Bahrain-based First Energy Bank, Khadem al-Qubaisi, and board member Mohamed al-Husseiny have reportedly left the bank, with a new chairman to be appointed shortly, after approval by the central bank of Bahrain. Al Qubaisi was one of the most prominent executives in the United Arab Emirates until the UAE energy minister replaced him as managing director of state-owned International Petroleum Investment Co last April. Husseiny was replaced as chief executive of Aabar last year after holding that post since 2010. Unlisted First Energy Bank reported a net loss of $375.2 million for 2015.
National carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) is seeking to raise 5 billion riyals ($1.3 billion) via the first tranche of a sukuk isuance programme in the second or third quarter of this year, its director-general Saleh al-Jasser said. The funds will be used to finance fleet expansion, as the carrier aims to operate 200 aircraft by 2020. Details of the second tranche of the sukuk programme have not been determined, he added. The airline has been spinning off units in the last several years; it is now preparing documentation to hive off its cargo unit in an initial public offer of shares, Jasser said without giving details.
Kuwaiti financial firm Investment Dar has begun talks with creditors about a new 813 million dinar ($2.7 billion) debt restructuring plan after a court threw out an earlier attempt. Investment Dar, whose main assets are in finance and property, has made several efforts to pay off creditors after getting heavily indebted during the financial crisis. Its most recent plan, dubbed Dasman, failed last month when Kuwait's Court of Appeal rejected an application under the country's financial stability law to impose it on all creditors. This resulted in a company-organised creditor meeting on Tuesday, attended by around half of its roughly 80 creditors. It was reported that both sides agreed to discuss a fresh restructuring deal, which could be proposed to creditors in the coming weeks.
During a one-hour interview on the balcony of his suite at the Palazzo Versace hotel along Dubai Creek, Ibrahim calls for a change in the incommensurate philanthropic culture among wealthy Muslims in the Gulf, blames GCC government’s favourable policies for the “laziness” of Middle Eastern investors in Africa and argues there have been more commendable leaders in Africa than in the West in the past decade. Brazen or simply unwilling to rose-tint his opinions, the Sudanese businessman who founded African telecommunications company Celtel in 1998 is more than anyone else in the world holding African leaders to account. Since 2000, the annual Ibrahim Index of African Governance has provided the most comprehensive assessment of African governments’ performances.
Qatar's largest sharia-compliant bank Masraf Al Rayan is expected to post annual profit growth of between 8 and 10 percent in 2016, Chairman Hussain Ali al-Abdulla said at the bank's annual general meeting. Masraf Al Rayan reported last month a 3.6 percent rise in full-year net profit in 2015 to 2.07 billion riyals, although its fourth-quarter earnings dipped slightly. Abdulla said the bank had no plans to issue sukuk this year as there was no need for additional liquidity. Falling liquidity is expected to be one of the main issues facing banks in the Gulf region in 2016, as governments remove cash on deposit to help replace lost revenue from lower hydrocarbon prices.
Looking to 2016 and beyond, innovation will continue to be critical for the ongoing development of the Islamic finance industry. For instance, efficiency can still be improved as Sharia-compliant institutions still lag behind their conventional counterparts, and are increasingly looking to embrace technological innovation in order to minimise operational costs as well as project a modern face of banking that would appeal to a younger generation of customers, which will be critical for ongoing growth. Another area of development is the Islamic asset management sector, as the range of services available remains quite limited and there is a general lack of quality products in this space.
The UAE's Islamic finance sector has continued to outpace the UAE's conventional banking sector's growth in 2015, according to ratings agency Fitch. The agency said in a statement that it expects demand for UAE Islamic banks' lending to continue to grow, supported by wider acceptance and an expanding customer base. Fitch added that Islamic banks have managed to reduce exposure to the real estate sector, which was historically higher than for conventional banks. Moreover, UAE Islamic banks will benefit from the central bank's decision this year to include sharia-compliant securities in the range of instruments it accepts as collateral for accessing liquidity.
Indebted Kuwaiti financial firm Investment Dar is seeking court approval to help close a 813 million dinar ($2.7 billion) debt restructuring. The new plan, called Dasman, is designed to overcome minority creditor dissent to earlier proposals by asking Kuwait's Court of Appeal to impose the deal on all creditors. The plan involves transferring Investment Dar's assets, and the management of their disposal, directly to creditors. About 60 percent of creditors have voiced support for the new plan, said Investment Dar. Investment Dar continued to defend legal action from a minority of creditors not supportive of the plan and who were pursuing claims against the company independently.
Bahrain’s GFH Financial Group has distributed dividends of $53 million to its funds’ investors, from investments in Bahrain, the UAE, US and India. In line with it's new strategy, GFH has spent the last 18 months investing in projects intended to provide steady cash yields for investors, the company said. For example, Diversified US Residential Portfolio (DURP) – an investment in US residential assets – distributed dividends of $1.3 million to investors. The portfolio comprises two multiple-dwelling residential properties, one in Houston, the other in Atlanta, with 1,300 apartments in total and 95 percent occupancy. Earlier this month, the group reported net profit of $13.6 million in the first six months of 2015.
An estimated 20 percent of Libya’s $67bn-plus sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), has yet to be fully traced since the death of Colonel Gaddafi. The LIA appointed Deloitte in 2012 to conduct an audit of all of its assets – many of which are tied up in investments outside the country. The auditor’s report was sent to the LIA in 2013 but has never been made public. The only detail the LIA released was the fund’s total value, estimated by Deloitte to be around $67 billion. The audit involved sourcing, verifying and valuing the assets of a fund its chairman Hassan Bouhadi describes as a “big black hole” whose contents are unknown to all but a few.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank's (ADIB) 504 million dirham ($137.2 million) rights offer will begin on Aug. 23, after shareholders approved the capital-raising plan. The lender will issue 168 million new shares in order to support its growth. The issue price is 3.0 dirhams. Each existing shareholder will have the right to subscribe to 56 new shares for every 1,000 shares held at the end of trading on Aug. 13. Subscriptions will start on Aug. 23 and end on Sept. 10. ADIB posted a 10.5 rise in its second-quarter net profit on Wednesday, beating analysts' estimates as fee income grew.