MENA

#Fintech Is The New Oil In The Middle East And North Africa

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the financial technology sector is coming of age. According to the State of Fintech report, fintech startups in the region have raised over $100 million over the past decade and investment is predicted to double by 2020. Disclosed investment in fintech had jumped 100% to over $35 million by October 2017. The number of fintech startups also increased from 46 in 2013 to 105 in 2015. It is estimated that it will more than double again to 250 by 2020. Despite the ubiquity of smartphones and internet connectivity, 86% of the adult population in the region is unbanked, while three in four GCC bank customers are ready to switch banks for a better digital experience. According to Abdulaziz Fahad Al Jouf, CEO of PayTabs, fintech could become as great a force in the Middle East as oil. In this environment, the region’s financial institutions are compelled to keep pace with the rapidly evolving fintech industry.

Public awareness key to boost Islamic finance in #Turkey

According to the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), Turkey should raise public awareness of Islamic finance to boost the sector's market share. CIBAFI's secretary general, Abdelilah Belatik, called Turkey's target of raising Islamic banks’ share to 20% by 2023 ambitious but achievable. The council’s annual gathering to discuss Islamic finance will be held in Turkey next April. Belatik said that countries like Turkey and Indonesia and regions such as Central Asia and Africa are important as they have a great growth potential in the Islamic finance sector. Belatik said they work with countries which lack the infrastructure and regulation for Islamic finance to show them its role in the economy. He also underlined Islamic finance's significance for financial stability.

Islamic Development Bank forms $500M science fund

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced it had formed a $500-million fund for scientific research. President Bandar Hajjar said the fund would find solutions to economic adversity using scientific innovations. He was speaking at the 33rd Ministerial Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) in Istanbul. Hajjar added that the bank had received 100 million Saudi riyals ($26.6 million) as contribution. He also added that to address the issue of youth unemployment a five-year program has been launched to improve cooperation between universities, research centers, non-governmental organizations and government departments.

Istanbul court rules FETO-linked Bank Asya bankrupt

An Istanbul court has declared bankruptcy of Bank Asya, affiliated with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). Bank Asya’s banking license was cancelled on July 22, 2016 by Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK). The agency had ruled for complete takeover of all shares of Bank Asya by the state-run Insurance Fund in May 2015. FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Gulf Finance House begins new #land #acquisition drive

Even though its Tunis Financial Harbour (TFH) mega-project has barely got off the ground, Bahrain's Gulf Finance House (GFH) is already looking to acquire adjacent land.

Detention of Saleh Kamel does not impact Al Baraka Bank #Egypt

Ashraf Ahmed Mustafa El-Ghamrawy, CEO of Al Baraka Bank Egypt said that the bank’s activity was not impacted by the detention of the Saudi businessman Saleh Kamel. Kamel is the chairman and founder of the Dallah al Baraka Group (DBHC) which owns Al Baraka Bank Egypt. The anti-corruption committee set up by Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has recently detained a number of Saudi princes, ministers and businessmen for corruption charges. According to El-Ghamrawy, what happens with Kamel in Saudi Arabia will have no effect on the bank’s performance in Egypt. He also notified the Egyptian Stock Exchange that Kamel is not a member of the board of directors. Therefore, there is no impact on the bank.

#Algeria: Three public banks to start offering Islamic finance services before the end of 2017

In Algeria, three public lending institutions will start offering Islamic finance services before the end of the year. They are the Banque de l’agriculture et du développement Rural (BADR), the Caisse Nationale d’Epargne et de Prévoyance (CNEP) and the Banque de Développement Local (BDL). Currently, in Algeria only Al Baraka Bank and Salam Bank are allowed to offer participative finance products to their clients. They are in fact competing in this sector with private lenders that offer both traditional and Islamic banking services. Boualem Djebbar, president of Algerian banks and financial institutions’ association, said a democratization of Islamic finance by 2018 should be expected in the country.

Turkey to issue gold-backed bonds and #sukuk from Oct 2

Starting from October 2, Turkey will issue gold-backed bonds and sukuk to attract into the economy gold savings held by households. According to the Turkish treasury, the maturity of the bond and sukuk will be 728 days, with a 6-month interest of 1.20%, index-linked to gold prices.

#Algeria plans first #sukuk issuance in 2018 -PM

Algeria plans to issue its first sukuk next year as it seeks new funding sources after a fall in energy earnings. Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said the government would introduce Islamic financial services at two state banks before the end of this year and four others in 2018. The North African country had rejected sharia-based financing options after a war with Islamist movements that killed about 200,00 people in the 1990s. But financial difficulties have prompted the government to speed up implementation of reforms. Algerian firms rely heavily on state spending, which in turn depends on the hydrocarbons sector. The government also aims to modernise the stock market, which is now smaller than those in neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia.

#Algeria: 6 government banks to offer Islamic banking by 2018

Algeria’s Prime Minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, announced that Islamic banking is to be approved in two public government banks before the end of this year and will be approved in four other banks in 2018. According to Ouyahia, this funding was inevitable because of the country's difficult economic and financial situation, and it will be limited in time because it will continue till no later than 2022. Algeria has about 29 banking institutions, seven of them are government-owned public banks, and more than 20 foreign banks from the Gulf countries, others are French and one is British. The Algerian government has applied Islamic banking in a limited way through the Zakat Fund of The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Wakfs, that was launched in 2003. The country has been facing an economic crisis for three years due to the fall in oil prices. Its foreign exchange earnings fell from 60 billion dollars in 2014 to 27.5 billion dollars at the end of last year.

Dana Gas and partners start arbitration case against MOL over #Kurdistan settlement

Dana Gas and its partner Crescent Petroleum have begun arbitration proceedings against Hungary's MOL Group over Dana's settlement agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The KRG agreed to pay $1 billion to the consortium and to reclassify some additional $1.24 billion from debt to outstanding costs. MOL is unsatisfied with the way Dana Gas, Crescent Petroleum and the Pearl consortium handled the settlement and would have pursued a final litigation and enforcement outcome against KRG instead. Dana and Crescent Petroleum own a combined 70% stake in the Pearl consortium, while Austria's OMV, Germany's RWE, and MOL each own 10%. The KRG settlement boosted Dana's cash balance and lifted the company's stock on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange by 14%. Last week Dana bondholders requested a $300 million cash paydown, but Dana refused the proposal and the case is now being disputed in a London High Court.

#Algeria turns to Islamic finance, bourse to rescue 'worrying' economy

Algeria’s new government will introduce Islamic finance and develop its stock market to draw more investment into the economy. The country currently struggles to cope with a sharp fall in energy earnings. Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia plans wider reforms and the start of fracking for shale hydrocarbons to boost oil and gas revenue. Algeria's finances have been hit by a more than 50% drop in crude oil prices since mid-2014, the government said 2017 would end with real difficulties, while 2018 looked to be even more complex. Algeria has failed in the past to modernise its stock market and has a very low level of liquidity. Its firms currently rely on state finances, which in turn depend on the oil and gas sector. The government plans to continue spending cuts, including subsidies, but analysts say spending cuts alone may not be enough to tackle the crisis. Foreign exchange reserves fell to $105 billion in July this year from $193 billion in May 2014.

First Shariah-compliant #M&A #insurance policy in MENA region launched

American International Group (AIG) has placed the first Shariah-compliant mergers and acquisitions (M&A) insurance policy in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). AIG’s Warranty and Indemnity insurance product helps protect buyers and sellers from financial losses if misrepresentations occur. Buyers can distinguish bids, sellers can reduce indemnity obligations. AIG was advised by global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, led by corporate/M&A partner Adjou Ait Ben Idir. Associates were Agnieszka Braciszewska (lead associate), senior associate Rachel Moylan (IT/IP aspects) and of counsel Louisa Lynch (real estate aspects). Partner Dominic Stuttaford advised on tax aspects. Mark Storrie, M&A Manager at AIG said M&A insurance provided a unique solution for MENA clients investing both in the region and globally. He was very pleased to have placed the first M&A policy in the region.

Conditions Conducive for Islamic Finance Expansion in #Morocco- Al Baraka Bank

Bahrain’s Al Baraka Bank deems that the regulatory framework in Morocco is conducive for the launch of an Islamic finance venture. The Bank’s Chief Executive, Adnan Ahmed Yousif said Al Baraka targets the expanding Islamic finance in Morocco in effort to diversify assets and revenues in Africa. Morocco is attractive for Islamic banks because of a competitive landscape that is free from large western lenders. Yousif added that reforms were being considered, but complete tax neutrality towards Islamic finance contracts was still needed. Bahrain’s Al Baraka group forged a partnership with Morocco’s BMCE Bank of Africa to create AL Baraka Maroc, which aims at creating a network of 25 agencies in Morocco.

Interest-free #insurance expected to draw #investments from Gulf

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the economy Mehmet Simsek announced that they have established the infrastructure of the interest-free insurance system. He noted that there have been no separate regulations for Islamic insurance or insurers so far, adding that the regulation is of great importance. He suggested that many questions in the framework of Islamic insurance will be answered with the new regulation. Simsek informed that in addition to serving interest-sensitive citizens, the system will also attract capital from the Gulf countries to Turkey. The system is based on the UK model, which is seen as an opportunity for Turkey as well. The Deputy Prime Minister also pointed out that one of the most important opportunities that the system brings to citizens is the balance return.

#Kurdistan pays $1 billion to Dana Gas, partners to settle London case

#Iraq’s Kurdistan region will immediately pay $1 billion to UAE-based Dana Gas and its partners to settle a long-running London court case. The full and final settlement of the $2.24 billion case is the latest effort by the semi-autonomous region to put its finances in order ahead of a referendum seeking independence from the government in Baghdad. Kurdistan has ramped up oil sales independent from Baghdad and is hoping to raise gas exports. The settlement is significant for both parties, with Kurdistan settling the dispute at a time it is working on reshaping public finances. For Dana, the Kurdish settlement will be eagerly watched by its bond holders which are disputing Dana's move to restructure its $700 million sukuk on the grounds it is no longer sharia-compliant.

EGP 11.7bn funding portfolio of #corporate finance in Abu Dhabi Islamic bank by end of June 2017

The corporate sector in #Egypt acquired EGP 11.7bn of the total loans portfolio in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank-Egypt until the end of June 2017. The bank continued its programme to fund small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The sector continued its growth also in the field of retail banking, reaching EGP 4.3bn, whereas the volume of the portfolio managed by the treasury sector in the bank is estimated at EGP 12.2bn. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank-Egypt revealed its business results for H1 2017, where total net profits during that period reached EGP 339m with EGP 148m increase by 78% compared to H1 2016. Total revenues reached EGP 1.841bn compared to EGP 1.225bn, with a growth of 50%. The volume of growth in total assets reached 30% by the end of June 2017 compared to June 2016. In its report the bank stressed its commitment to developing the technological infrastructure and investing in human resources.

Third #Moroccan Participatory #Bank to #Launch #Islamic #Finance #Activities

The Maroccoan Bank Al Yousr, the participatory subsidiary of the BCP Group in partnership with Guidance Financial Group has opened its headquarters in the capital Casablanca. After the approval and publication of the compliance notices on the 20th July relating to the model of an account agreement and the Mourabaha Immobilière contract issued by the Shariah Committee on Participatory Finance, Bank Al Yousr officially started its banking activities beginning of August.
The participatory bank is the third of its kind to start its activities, after Bank Assafa, a subsidiary of Attijariwafa Bank, and Umnia Bank of CIH Bank.

Maroc- En attendant le #takaful, le financement de l'immobilier par les banques islamiques sera une prise de risque

Deux banques islamiques ou ''participatives'' ont démarré mercredi 26 juillet 2017 officiellement leurs activités au Maroc. Le takaful n’existant pas encore sur le marché, explique Adnane El Guetari, le directeur général d'Umnia Bank. Si les Umnia Bank et Bank Assafa se sont engagées dans ce créneau pour des opérations de base, toute la profession attend cependant la réaction de la Banque centrale du Maroc, Bank Al Maghirb, et les modèles de contrats contrat ijara et au placement des dépôts d’investissements. Selon l’agence américaine de notation Standard & Poor's, la finance islamique pourrait représenter entre 10 et 20% du système bancaire du Maroc.

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