Asia

#Malaysia Woos #FinTech Devs for Shariah-Compliant Islamic Finance

Malaysia’s proximity in the ASEAN region and its mix of urban, suburban and rural population makes it a suitable environment for testing and launching FinTech solutions for the global Islamic Finance market. Datuk Yasmin Mohamood, CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC), has opened the country’s doors for FinTech startups and companies. Yasmin was speaking at the Finnovasia 2017 Conference in Kuala Lampur and claimed Malaysia as a viable test-bed for FinTech companies. He added that an organized FinTech ecosystem will be developed with the support of Bank Negara Malaysia and the country’s Securities Commission. In August last year, Bitspark partnered Malaysia’s Vitaxel to bring remittance solutions over the bitcoin blockchain. Later in December, Malaysian non-profit Blockchain Embassy Asia established a steering committee toward educating organizations about blockchain technology.

UEM Edgenta to make RM1b #sukuk issuance

UEM Edgenta will issue Islamic commercial papers (ICP programme) and Islamic medium-term notes (IMTN) with a combined aggregate up to RM1bil in nominal value and a sub-limit of RM300mil.
UEM Edgenta said the proceeds raised from the sukuk programmes would be utilised for its syariah-compliant general corporate purposes. The ICP programme has been assigned a preliminary rating of MARC-1/S and the IMTN programme has been assigned a preliminary rating of AA-IS by Malaysian Rating Corp. The company added that it had lodged the required information and relevant documents relating to the proposed sukuk programmes to the Securities Commission.

Islamic Bank invites financial institutions to invest in it

Islamic Bank of Thailand plans to set up an asset management team to handle its Bt48 billion in non-performing loans. The bank also plans to invite 35 financial firms to invest in the bank to restructure its business and boost its new loans, which stand at Bt30 billion. Chairman Chaiwat Utaiwan said Islamic Bank aimed to sell its 74.5% stake in the bank, the remaining stake is owned by Finance Ministry. According to its restructure plan, the bank needs new capital of Bt20 billion in order to adhere to Bank of Thailand standards. The bank has outstanding loan worth Bt95 billion.

Islamic capital market can support financing needs

The #Malaysian Securities Commission (SC) released its SC 2016 Annual Report. The report states that the Malaysian capital market remains resilient and sustainable, growing in an orderly trajectory, attracting sound investor interest. According to SC chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh, the outlook for the Malaysian capital market in 2017 is positive. The SC is in capacity-boosting mode armed with several initiatives. These include launching the new Malaysian Code of Corporate Governance, the approval of RM5.95 million by the nascent Capital Market Development Fund aimed at encouraging new entrants into the industry, and the establishment of an Institute for Capital Market Research in 2017. This complements the initiatives by the SC in 2015 and last year, including the introduction of the first Equity Crowdfunding Framework in the region and a peer-to-peer financing framework.

'Waqf' the next best thing in finance

Bank Indonesia (BI) announced recently its plan to issue waqf based bonds as a social welfare mechanism. The Indonesian Muslim Intellectual Association (ICMI) will also launch the very first waqf venture bank this June. Waqf may become the new trend in Islamic banking for several reasons. Waqf funds can be utilized for equity-based financing, a financial structure considered ideal for Islamic values, but undervalued in the current Islamic banking and finance architecture. The nature of longterm waqf funds for investment will make a good source of funding for venture capital and private equity. The amount of money potentially generated under a waqf system is indeed huge. The value of waqf land is estimated to reach Rp 300 trillion. This highlights the need for a professional and well-governed management to create a waqf bank that functions well and is successfully implemented.

Sarawak welcomes Chinese investors to tap into Tanjung Manis #halal #hub

The #Malaysian government is encouraging investors from China to tap into the estimated USD3 trillion global demand for halal products by exploring business opportunities in Tanjung Manis Halal Hub (TMHH) in Bintulu, Sarawak. According to Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Malaysia is a pioneer in halal certification ensuring the integrity of halal products and services through strict compliance with Syariah requirements. Awang Tengah added that the Sarawak Government had established the TMHH which covers an area of 124,517 hectares making it the largest among all the other halal hubs in the region. Among the investment potentials in TMHH he revealed is the cultivation of food crops, aquaculture, poultry and livestock, food processing, cosmetics, and health products. On another note, Awang Tengah revealed that China has remained an important trading partner as well as a major source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for Sarawak.

RHB Islamic To Disburse RM50 Million For #Entrepreneurs

RHB Islamic Bank is expecting to disburse at least RM50 million this year to facilitate the development of entrepreneurs. The fund is part of the Teras Fund programme provided via the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (Teraju). According to RHB Islamic Bank's CEO Datuk Adissadikin Ali, the collaboration with Teraju had so far disbursed RM200 million as of 2016 from the total fund raised of RM400 million. He said the original fund for the programme was RM80 million, but RHB Islamic managed to raise the fund by leveraging on resources to RM400 million.

#Malaysia leads in #Islamic #banking assets in region, says World Bank report

Islamic finance has largely been a priority area in Malaysia for three decades and it is not about to slow down. The World Bank's recent Global Report on Islamic Finance highlighted Malaysia as having the largest Islamic banking assets in the region with US$156.7 billion (RM697.15 billion) as at 2013. Malaysia is also the second-largest economy in terms of total syariah-compliant financial assets. However, the report also suggested the need to address several challenges like the need for alternative investments. On a positive note, the report said the syariah governance framework was advanced in Malaysia. Within Asia, Malaysia has been dominating the sukuk issuance market. The US dollar-denominated sukuk have been growing, but sukuk denominated in Malaysian ringgit are growing even faster and dominate the market.

Islamic Banking M&A plausible, says AllianceDBS Research

According to AllianceDBS Research, a new wave of merger and acquisition (M&A) activities in the Islamic banking space is plausible, although the timing remains the key risk. Potential M&A candidates include the Malaysia Building Society (MBSB), and Bank Muamalat Malaysia (Muamalat). The research house added domestic Islamic financing growth was expected to continue outpacing conventional loans growth, driven by regulatory push for internationalisation of Islamic finance. This was mainly underpinned by a growing push by banks to fulfil Bank Negara Malaysia’s target of 40% proportion of Islamic financing. AllianceDBS predicts the big game-changer will be product innovation. The research house named the main Islamic banking proxy, the BIMB Holdings (BIMB) as the largest Shariah compliant financial institution with strong potential to lead product innovation.

#Malaysia chases the big money in #Islamic #finance

Islamic finance is the area where Malaysia leads the world. Malaysia has 54% of global sukuk outstanding, 314 Islamic investment funds worth RM100.6 billion ($22.7 billion), and an Islamic capital market that has tripled in size since 2005, accounting for 60.1% of the total Malaysian capital market. In August the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) launched its Shariah savings scheme to give members the option to convert their conventional account to an Islamic one. It has said it expects to invest an average of RM25 billion in Shariah assets every year and it intends to allocate a minimum of 45% of its assets into Shariah-compliant forms. Thus, EPF has sufficient scale to be very interesting to asset managers worldwide. Largely through that mechanism, there are now 20 fully fledged Islamic fund management companies operating in Malaysia.

IBBL row: Muhith seeks explanation from BB about IDB allegations

Finance Minister Ama Muhith has sought explanation from Bangladesh Bank about allegations of foreign investors of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL). The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) alleged that the IBBL board made the recent high-level changes in the absence and without consent of foreign shareholders. Two foreign investors including IDB hold 52% shares of the IBBL. At the board meeting January 5, former bureaucrat Arastoo Khan was elected chairman of IBBL. Changes were also brought to the posts of managing director and heads of various committees of the bank and also to chief of the Islami Bank Foundation. At present, of the 16 board of directors, seven are independent directors, seven from little known companies and two are foreign sponsors’ representatives.

IDB dismayed by 'abrupt' changes at Islami Bank

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) expressed dismay at the recent changes that took place at Islami Bank Bangladesh (IBBL). In a letter to Finance Minister Ama Muhith, IDB said the foreign shareholders feel that the governance of the bank has been taken away from them, although they own more than 52% of the shares, while IDB has a 7.5%. The IDB also criticised the way a board meeting at IBBL is convened. Furthermore, the IDB voiced its concern about the recent changes, about appointing the new managing director in an abrupt manner, not following the rigorous recruitment process. As a response to IDB's letter, Islami Bank said in a statement that all banking rules have been followed properly.

New Sharia-Compliant Government Retail #Bonds Sale in #Indonesia

The government of Indonesia plans to sell another series of sharia-compliant government retail bonds (Sukri). The offering period is planned for 4 February-2 March 2017. In last year's Sukri issuance the Indonesian government set an indicative target of IDR 30 trillion (approx. USD $2.2 billion) for its SR-008 series. However, due to robust demand authorities raised a total of IDR 31 trillion. The three year SR-008 bonds carry a fixed coupon of 8.3% per year. It was the government's biggest ever sale of Sukri bonds. In 2017 the Indonesian government plans to sell IDR 597 trillion worth of bonds, mostly rupiah-denominated government bonds. Robert Pakpahan, Head of the Debt Office within Indonesia's Finance Ministry, earlier said Indonesia will offer retail bonds twice this year, consisting of Sukri and Indonesian Retail Government Bonds.

BRIEF-Sabana Shariah Compliant Industrial #RealEstate clarifies on atricle in Straits Times

#Singapore's Sabana Shariah Compliant Industrial Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) clarifies the article published by Straits Times titled "Angry investors want REIT manager kicked out". Sabana REIT stated that the closing price of its unit was 37 cents on 24 Jan 2017. Sabana REIT clarified that the manager's fee structure is in line with market practice in Singapore's REIT sector. All acquisitions were approved by board of directors in accordance with property funds appendix and sgx-st listing manual.

Yinson converts US$780mil loan into Islamic financing facility

Yinson Holdings' subsidiary Yinson Production (West Africa) has converted its existing US$780mil conventional loan to an Islamic Murabahah term financing facility. Group executive chairman Lim Han Weng said this was the largest Islamic facility for floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) financing to-date. Maybank Investment Bank acted as the coordinating bank for the conversion while Maybank Islamic acted as the syariah adviser. Upon completion of the conversion, Yinson is expected to meet the debt over total assets financial ratio benchmark required by the Securities Commission for a syariah-compliant security.

Source: 

http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/01/27/yinson-converts-us$780mil-loan-into-islamic-financing-facility/

Bank Islam MD says unlikely to extend contract

Bank Islam's managing director Datuk Seri Zukri Samat said he would not extend his contract when his tenure ends in June this year. When asked on his successor, Zukri said there was still plenty of time to search for a successor since it was only January. On Bank Islam Visa Infinite MPN credit card-i, he said it was introduced in response to Bank Negara’s call for a cashless society. He said the collaboration with MPN was the bank’s continuous cooperation with the academic institutions starting with the introduction of the UniDebit card in 2012. Meanwhile, MPN chairman Professor Tan Sri Zakri Abu Hamid welcomed the strategic cooperation to strengthen the corporate image of both parties.

Fitch: #Malaysia's #takaful continues to enjoy higher growth than conventional peers

According to Fitch Ratings, Malaysia's takaful sector continues to enjoy higher growth than the conventional sector. This growth is driven by a low base, stable domestic consumption and increasing consumer awareness. The rating agency said that regulatory pressure would drive sector consolidation in the short term. As takaful operators realign their strategic focus and gradually retain more risks, Fitch expects some bottom-line volatility in the short term. For the first half of 2016 (1H2016), family takaful grew by 9.8%, while general takaful grew by 5.8%. This compared to 8.2% growth in conventional life and 2.6% in general insurance.

Sabana Shariah Compliant #REIT Is #Singapore’s Worst-Performing REIT Over The Past Year: What Investors Should Know About Its Challenges

There are 38 real estate investment trusts (REITs) in Singapore’s stock market. The REIT with the worst performance over the last 12 months is Sabana Shariah Compliant REIT (SGX: M1GU), whose units have fallen by 49% in price to S$0.36 currently. Sabana REIT is unique for being the world’s first Shariah-compliant REIT. In the third quarter of 2016 Sabana saw its gross revenue decline by 9.7% to S$23.0 million while its net property income shrank by 24% to S$13.9 million. Although the REIT’s portfolio occupancy rate managed to step up from 88.8% in the second quarter of 2016 to 89.2%, the number is still lower than the 91.7% seen a year ago. Market researcher Knight Frank projected a decline in industrial rents in Singapore of 6% to 8% in the fourth quarter of 2016. Put another way, Sabana REIT’s business environment is in a condition of low demand and oversupply.

#Fund to spur foreign investment in Islamic finance

#Malaysia’s securities regulator has proposed establishing a fund to invest in the country’s Islamic finance funds and make them more attractive to institutional and foreign investors. The proposed fund is part of an Islamic fund and wealth management blueprint launched on Thursday. It would invest in multi-currency Islamic investment products managed by Malaysian-based asset managers. The fund could address challenges that Islamic funds have faced so far. Few Malaysian-managed funds are offered overseas but this is starting to change. CIMB Islamic Asset Management, for example, this week launched an Ireland-domiciled dollar-denominated sukuk fund. The Employees Provident Fund is launching a RM111.45 billion shariah-compliant retirement fund this month, which could serve as a boon to asset managers in the field.

SC unveils five-year blueprint to further strengthen #Malaysia as a leading Islamic investment hub

The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has launched a five-year Islamic Fund and Wealth Management Blueprint designed to drive further development and growth of Malaysia's Islamic capital market. The Blueprint aims to establish the country as a leading international centre for Islamic fund and wealth management. It was launched by Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani, Second Finance Minister of Malaysia, on behalf of Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, at the International Fund Forum 2017. To be implemented on a phased approach, initial work programmes will include the formulation of a framework for SRI funds, the setting up of a global centre for Islamic capital market and the introduction of a digital investment services framework.

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