Asia

BIMB Invest eyes RM100m for Shariah-ESG #fund within 1 year

BIMB Invest is expected to achieve a subscription of RM100 million of its BIMB-Arabesque ValueCAP Malaysia Shariah-ESG Equity Fund within a year. The fund was launched together with Arabesque Asset Management and ValueCAP and approved by the Securities Commission Malaysia. As the fund is mainly targeted at corporate and institutional investors, BIMB Invest is hoping to get the likes of pension funds, insurance and takaful firms on board. The fund will invest in about 100 local listed companies that are Shariah-compliant as well as in line with ESG practices. It will analyse the ESG factors of each company using Arabesque’s proprietary methodology, the Arabesque S-Ray, which daily assesses the performance of companies.

How Islamic finance can manage rupiah stability

According to the Jakarta Interbank Spot Dollar Rate, the rupiah dropped to a new low of 14,418 against the US dollar on July 3. In the last few weeks, all emerging markets showed an increase in foreign currency volatility. Since April 2018, there has been capital outflow from the Indonesian bond market amounting to almost US$1.9 billion. Solving this problem can be done in two steps. First, sensitivity to capital outflow must be reduced by reducing dependency toward it. Second, capital inflow is needed that is less sensitive to global externalities. Islamic finance may contribute to financial stability, as all transactions must be asset-backed. The principle of risk-sharing between counterparties will help prevent excessive risk-taking. Islamic finance can also help create rupiah stability through its various sharia-compliant instruments, which could attract global investors.

#Malaysia: BIMB Investment targets RM100m for Shariah equity fund

BIMB Investment is targeting RM100 million in subscription for its newly launched BIMB-Arabesque ValueCAP Malaysia Shariah-ESG Equity Fund. The fund will be invested in 100 local shariah compliant companies listed on Bursa Malaysia. BIMB Investment CEO Najmuddin Mohd Lutfi said the investments would be based on selected companies that have strong financial standing. He said companies who are interested to increase their social responsible investment (SRI) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) portfolios should also tap into this fund.

Apply for Islamic Development Bank undergraduate scholarship by 21 August

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced the availability of scholarships for Muslim Community in India to pursue undergraduate studies in India. The scholarship may cover tuition fees and/or monthly stipends, books & clothing allowance and medical coverage through public or university sponsored hospitals. Major fields at undergraduate level include Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Engineering, Agriculture, Information Technology, Economics, Education, Psychology and Learning, Education Policy and International Development.

#Maldives launch first Islamic finance magazine: ‘Laaba’ to act as a platform to engage regional & global industry developments

Maldives Center for Islamic Finance (MCIF) has launched Laaba, the first publication in the archipelago dedicated to Islamic finance. The magazine aims to be the first platform in South Asia to bring together regional hubs with global partners in engaging knowledge and sharing ideas. The first issue has embraced the theme of responsible and ethical finance and how this is aligned with Islamic finance. Laaba also includes exclusive interviews with CEOs across Maldives financial institutions, including the Maldives Islamic Bank, Maldives Capital Markets Development Authority and Amana Takaful.

RHB Bank #Singapore seals world's largest Islamic hotel financing deal

RHB Bank's Singapore branch completed the world’s largest Islamic bilateral hotel financing deal with the Royal Group, for a five-star luxury hotel valued at S$300mil (RM888.72mil). RHB Bank explained the rarity value of this deal was that hospitality-related assets were used for Islamic financing, which in the past was considered taboo as not all income is deemed to be Shariah compliant. RHB Bank Singapore head of Islamic banking Nazmi Camalxaman said RHB Bank Singapore was focusing on a niche and targeted market for Islamic financing. He pointed out that for the first time in five years, the government is expected to launch a site for hotel rooms as part of its Government Land Sales (GLS) programme in September 2018 amid a positive tourism outlook.

A new term is born: Shariah #fintech, and it has quite some potential

#Indonesia’s Deputy Finance Minister Mardiasmo said at the third Annual Islamic Finance Conference that fintech will play an important role in Islamic finance. Shariah fintech is a new buzzword to describe the venture of financial technology into Islamic finance. The status quo is that few Islamic banks have been open to adapt new technologies, but many scholars in Shariah boards are challenged in this particular case of progress meeting tradition. The result is that not Islamic banks are the drivers for Shariah fintech, but startups, entrepreneurs and inventive enterprises. In Indonesia online microfinance services are part of this new wave of Shariah fintech. Some Shariah fintech startups are focusing on agri-finance platforms, Islamic crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and mobile payment applications, while others are developing blockchain solutions for Islamic finance services, automated halal investment, trading platforms and robo-advisers.

Why #Malaysian bonds are set to attract investors despite emerging-market jitters

With the improving quality of issuances, Malaysia is set to attract more investments into its growing bond market, say panellists at The Asset Malaysia Issuers and Investors Leaders Dialogue in Kuala Lumpur.

ACC sues Al-Arafah Islami Bank director

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed a case against an incumbent director of Al-Arafah Islami Bank for allegedly laundering Tk 1.68 crore in Singapore. ACC filed the case against Badiur Rahman, who was also chairman of the bank's board of directors between 2008 and 2016. Badiur set up the company Ariel Maritime in Singapore with three directors. Badiur's invested capital was SGD 25,000 in 2003 and he has been operating the company since then. His investment increased to SGD 0.5 million, equivalent to Tk 1,68,38,800. According to ACC, Badiur could not show any acceptable documents to prove legitimacy of the source of income that he invested in the company. To conceal the source of income, he misused his power as a director and secretly transferred the money.

Green finance to fund #Indonesia’s new development projects

Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, is turning to green finance markets to fund new development projects. In February, the Indonesian government issued $1.25 billion as the first sovereign green sukuk in the world. The first corporate green sukuk was issued by a Malaysian company in July last year. The Indonesian Tropical Landscapes Finance Facility (TLFF) issued a $95 million sustainability bond to finance rubber plantations in Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo. However, Indonesia did not provide investors with a specific list of projects it was seeking to fund through the green sukuk. The opacity in implementing sustainable criteria is not uncommon in the global green bond market.

Islamic Development Bank seeks tie-ups for infrastructure investments

Islamic Development Bank president Bandar Hajjar said the bank was exploring joint opportunities with other multilateral development banks to invest in India’s infrastructure sector. India plans to invest as much as ?5.97 trillion in creating and upgrading infrastructure in the current financial year. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is setting in play a new integrated infrastructure programme that involves building of roads, railways, waterways and airports. For this, India has sought project financing totalling $2.4 billion from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Also, the Asian bank will invest $200 million in India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).

Better late than never? #Brunei and its role in the #Fintech revolution

Singapore battles with Australia and Hong Kong to be the region’s leading Fintech hub. She has moved ahead of her Southeast Asian neighbours, including newcomers like Brunei. Brunei launched its Fintech office in 2017 and at the same time put in place regulatory guidelines. However, Brunei’s Fintech ecosystem remains underdeveloped. Brunei has good reasons to pursue Fintech, it must start to reduce its economic dependence on gas and oil. The country has already made progress including collaboration with South Korea. Both countries provided US$30 million. They planned to set up a Fintech innovation centre. In return, South Korean companies gained access to the Islamic market. Brunei also signed a Fintech agreement with Singapore, Hong Kong and Great Britain.

#Malaysia to retain position as world's premier #sukuk issuer

Malaysia will remain the market leader in global sukuk issuance despite recent delays and cancellations of mega projects. CIMB Islamic Bank CEO Rafe Haneef said the delays of some mega projects would have some impact sukuk deals, but it is still business as usual for Malaysia. Last year, Malaysia had issuances of over US$50 billion. According to Moody’s Investor Services, Malaysia continues to remain the world’s largest sukuk with an estimated 44% of total sovereign sukuk outstanding in 2017. Issuance grew 17% in 2017 to some US$100 billion. CIMB Investment Bank topped Bloomberg’s Underwriter League Table for ringgit bonds for 12 years running. Going forward, Rafe expects issuances will come from both the infrastructure and corporate space.

ESG podcast: Securities Commission #Malaysia outlines plans for green Islamic finance (part 2)

In this podcast Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin of Securities Commission Malaysia speaks about the country's strategy for socially responsible and sharia-compliant investing. He talks about the challenges in making Malaysia a global Islamic finance centre. He sees great potential for Malaysia as it rolls out new products, such as a sukuk ETF. Zainal believes the gradual harmonizing of Sharia definitions will fuel more cross-border transactions between Malaysia and the Middle East.

Muslims in #India develop mutual health #insurance scheme as alternative to #takaful

A not-for-profit health assurance scheme, called Uplift Mutuals Biradaree, started in April this year in India. The scheme works on the model of mutual assurance, with certain features maintaining the values of Shariah-compliant finance. The health assurance scheme will work on the existing platform of Uplift Mutuals, a fifteen-year-old community-owned mutual health assurance model developed by Uplift India Association. Uplift Mutuals Biradaree is designed to be affordable and is open to all financially vulnerable families. A single member pays 700 Indian rupees ($10) per annum and a family of four 1,400 rupees per year. The annual contribution has been kept low because part of the capital and operating expenditures are currently met by external funding from the global industry body the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).

Responding to demand, Islamic #microfinance start-up starts accepting cryptocurrencies for zakat

Islamic microfinance start-up Blossom Finance has started accepting zakat payments in cryptocurrencies for zakat-eligible cryptocurrency assets in response to user demand. Blossom Finance has designated a wallet for zakat payments at a cryptocurrency exchange in Indonesia. Blossom will channel the zakat to the Indonesian financial cooperative Baitul Maal Wat Tamwil (BMT) that will distribute the funds to any of the 87 microfinance institutions that the start-up has agreed to partner with. The crypto zakat payment on crypto assets is completed once deposited in the Blossom-designated wallet. CEO Matthew Joseph Martin said Blossom Finance would not take a fee for providing the zakat payment facility. The company’s aim is to provide a working model for zakat collection and management organizations.

Ali Allawala appointed CEO of #Malaysia’s Standard Chartered Bank Islamic unit

Pakistani banker Ali Allawala has been appointed as the chief executive officer of the Islamic Unit of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia. Ali Allawala possesses over 22 years of experience in retail banking, both within conventional and Islamic banking. He joined Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan in 2012 and had previously worked for Citibank and Samba Financial Group. He was named "Best Islamic Consumer Banker in Pakistan 2015" by the Islamic Finance Awards. Mr. Allawala has extensive multi-product experience in business development, product management, distribution, digital banking and marketing.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Blossom Finance Launches Shariah-compliant #Microfinance #Fund to Invest in BMT Microfinance Institutions in #Indonesia via PBMT Ventura

US-based Blossom Finance recently launched a fund that will lend local-currency on the Indonesian island of Java via Permodalan BMT (PBMT) Ventura. Baitul Maal wat Tamwil (BMTs) are financial institutions that follow Shariah law. They provide savings and loan services primarily to people who do not use traditional banks. The new fund is Blossom’s first microfinance fund that is open to investment from the public. The minimum investment is USD 1,000, although US-based investors must be accredited before participation. Blossom is accepting investments into the fund in US dollars as well as the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum. In testing its platform since 2015, Blossom has generally returned investors annualized profits around 7% with terms of 6 to 12 months.

Matrix Concepts, #Indonesian consortium to jointly develop Islamic financial district in Jakarta

Malaysian property developer Matrix Concepts is teaming up with an Indonesian consortium to jointly develop an Islamic financial district in Jakarta. Matrix entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bangun Kosambi Sukses (BKS) and Nikko Sekuritas Indonesia (NSI) for the joint development dubbed PIK 2 Sedayu Indo City. Matrix said the proposed development was initiated by the Indonesian government in its quest to position itself as an Islamic financial hub. PIK 2 Sedayu Indo City will encompass 1,000ha of land complete with residential houses, apartments, shopping centres, a light rail transit system, and a stadium.

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