MENA

Islamic Development Bank plans to buy stake in Borsa Istanbul

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) plans to take at least a 10% stake in Turkey's state-run stock exchange, Borsa Instanbul. Abdulhakim Elwaer, IDB's director of cooperation, said negotiations are expected to finalize in two to three months as part of wider efforts to develop Islamic finance in Turkey. Elwaer emphasized the bank's wish to help develop Turkey as a global Islamic financial center. IDB and Borsa Istanbul signed a cooperation agreement in November, with discussions currently ongoing to decide on a specific size and time frame. The bourse has a share capital of 423 million lira ($115.6 million), implying a value of 42.3 million lira for a 10% stake. Elwaer added that a gold trading platform is also in discussion, although the equity stake remains the bank's biggest priority.

Albaraka Turk secures $213 million Islamic #loan

Turkish lender Albaraka Turk has secured a $213 million murabaha-based loan syndication, up from the $150 million it initially sought. The bank said the profit margin for the 370-day sharia-compliant facility was 125 basis points over three-month LIBOR. The lender had appointed ABC Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital Ltd, Qatar Islamic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank to arrange the transaction. The bank is a unit of the Al Baraka Banking Group, which is also planing to issue dollar-denominated sukuk.

#Algeria warily edges towards Islamic finance as energy income dives

Algeria is edging slowly towards Islamic banking services to suit more religiously conservative investors. Finance Minister Hadji Baba Ammi has already announced plans for the country's first local bond. Now six state-run banks plan to start Islamic financial services by the end of the year or in early 2018 and a national sharia board that would oversee Islamic banking is also planned by the end of 2017. Algeria's Islamic finance plan still faces huge barriers. It lacks a legal framework and technical expertise. Algeria is far behind North African neighbours Morocco and Tunisia, which have started to develop legislation for Islamic finance. The country is targetting domestic savers rather than foreign investors. Many local people distrust the state-owned banks and keep large sums at home in Algerian and foreign currency.

75 academics face 15 years in jail each for depositing money into Bank Asya

77 academics from the Abant Izzet Baysal University (AIBU) face between 7.5 years and 15 years in jail on accusation of membership to a terrorist organization. 75 academics are sentenced to 15 years in prison, while the remaining two to 22 years. The prosecutor listed among evidence for terror charge the academics’ previous transactions within Bank Asya. The Turkish government closed down the Islamic lender as part of its crackdown against the Gulen movement. The government also pinned the blame for July 15 on the movement. The accused academics have withdrawn TL 2 million from other banks to deposit into Bank Asya since late 2013 when the bank was struggling. The prosecutor underscored that some academics transferred money from spouses’ accounts to another account in Bank Asya so that they could benefit from state insurance in case the bank faces closure.

IFC makes equity #investment to expand payment infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has announced an equity investment of $30 million via the consortium fund Network International to expand the payment infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa. Network International is jointly controlled by the Emirates NBD Bank and Warburg Pincus/General Atlantic consortium. The investment will help the company expand and modernise its banking client network in the Middle East and Africa. The investment is expected to allow MSMEs to access card-based payments and develop digital data records, to help them grow their customer base. Bassel Hamwi, Head of the IFC Middle East and North Africa Fund, said the shared infrastructure brings down costs and boosts financial inclusion, while reducing the risk of fraud.

#Turkey's grain board TMO, Gap Insaat to sell debut Islamic #bonds

Turkey's state grain board TMO and construction firm Gap Insaat have received regulatory approval for debut sukuk sales. Turkey has seen steady issuance of sukuk from the government and the country's Islamic banks, but an increase in corporate issuance could help tap into a much wider stable of issuers. According to the country's Capital Markets Board, the TMO will raise 150 million lira ($41.6 million) via a sukuk that will be arranged by Islamic lender Kuveyt Turk. Turkey is seeking to build a bigger role in the industry and forge closer ties with fast-growing economies in the Gulf and southeast Asia. The Turkish Treasury hired banks to arrange a sale of sukuk in the international markets, with meetings set to begin this week in the United Arab Emirates.

#Turkish treasury says mandates three banks for #sukuk issue

Turkish treasury mandated the Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered to explore opportunities for a possible sukuk issue. A series of investor meetings will be organised in the UAE on March 28, 2017. Meanwhile, the country’s monetary authority raised its highest interest rate while leaving all of the other rates unchanged. The lira rallied as the move was seen paving for they way for tighter policy and serving as insurance against bouts of currency weakness.

#Morocco opens an Islamic finance window

Casablanca Finance City welcomes international businesses that have been flocking to Morocco to take advantage of its cheap labour, skilled work force and proximity to sub-Saharan Africa. Amid the uprisings that characterised the Arab Spring, Morocco remained relatively stable. Political and social stability continued after 2010, while the neighbour countries struggled. Adding to Morocco’s allure is the introduction of formal Islamic financial products, officially labelled participatory finance in the country. In 2017 authorities issued five participatory banking licences to Moroccan banks and three to international banks. As Morocco continues to roll out participatory financial products and services slowly and cautiously, the sector will remain a niche.

#Jordanians show high interest in Islamic #bonds — CBJ

The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) the second sukuk issuance on behalf of the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) at a total value of JD75 million, 4.1% returns and a five-year maturity period. The bank reported that demand on the sukuk was 2.73 times the value of the issue, having received orders for JD205 million-worth bonds. The CBJ said the high turnout underlines the increasing demand on the financing tools compatible with the Islamic Law, which have been lacking in the local market during past decades. The bank said the success of this issuance was a result of the continuous coordination of the Finance Ministry, the CBJ, NEPCO, the Jordan Securities Commission and the Central Sharia Oversight Commission.

Islamic Banking: Bank Al Maghrib Interested in IFSB Prudential Standards

Bank Al-Maghrib and the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) co-organized a regional workshop entitled "Facilitating Implementation of IFSB Standards" in Rabat. The workshop focused on 3 standards for participatory banking: IFSB-15 "Revised Capital Adequacy Standard" on Prudential Capital and Solvency Standards, IFSB-16 "Revised Guidance on Key Elements in the Supervisory Process" on Supervision Standards, and GN-6 "Quantitative Measures for Liquidity Risk Management" on prudential liquidity standards. This event is part of the measures taken by Bank Al-Maghrib to finalize the regulatory framework governing participatory banking activities in Morocco.

#Morocco central bank okays five Islamic financial products

Morocco's central bank has approved the use of five types of Islamic banking transactions. This means a final regulatory nod for the country to launch an Islamic finance industry. The central bank has recently set up a central sharia board to oversee the sector. The five approved transactions include murabaha, musharaka, ijara, mudaraba and salam. The central bank also set regulations for conventional banks to open windows selling Islamic products. It had given regulatory approval to three major Moroccan banks to open Islamic subsidiaries: Attijariwafa Bank, BMCE of Africa and Banque Centrale Populaire, as well as to smaller lenders Credit Agricole and Credit Immobilier et Hotelier. Subsidiaries of Societe Generale of France, Credit du Maroc and BMCI have also won permission to sell Islamic products.

Qatar International Islamic Bank, CIH to Launch Islamic Bank in #Morocco

In partnership with the Moroccan Crédit Immobilier et Hotelier bank (CIH), Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) will launch Umnia Bank, a joint Islamic financial institution. Licensing for the Umnia Bank had already been issued by the Central Bank of Morocco. According to QIIB chairman Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani bin Abdullah al-Thani, QIIB is now closer to formally launching the activities of Umnia Bank. He expressed his happiness to reach this stage and stated that Umnia Bank looks to be the best Islamic bank in Morocco. He added that QIIB is determined to contribute to the growth of the Moroccan economy.

#Tunisia: GFH would like to pass “Financial Port” to another investor

The Bahraini Gulf Finance House (GFH) would seek to get rid of its Tunisian project, the Tunis Financial Harbor. The project was to be one of the largest Bahraini investments in Tunisia, which would be worth 7.5 billion USD. Tunis Financial Harbor was initially designed to make Tunisia a regional financial hub, but eventually turned into a simple real estate program. GFH is currently seeking to pass the hand and to pass the project on to another investor. The cause would be the financial difficulties of the Bahraini group.

#Algeria plans interest-free local #bond to offset dive in energy income

Algeria plans to raise money from an interest-free local bond in order to offset the huge fall in its energy earnings. The North African OPEC member has already cut public spending, introduced new taxes and reduced government subsidies on fuel. Finance Minister Hadji Baba Ammi said the new bond would not bear interest, which may help attract a greater number of Algerian buyers. The minister said bondholders would receive a share in projects that the issue would finance as an incentive. The government launched its first local bond last April, but it was harshly criticised by the religious community. While neighbours Morocco and Tunisia are developing laws for Islamic finance, Islamic banks and sukuk bonds, Algeria still has no legal framework for such operations.

#Turkey's SWF to focus on securitization

The first act of business by the Turkish Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) will be the issuance of securities, while it will also focus on Islamic finance products in securitization. The fund will contact local and foreign investors for securitization over the next few months. Even though the Treasury announced that the transferred asset size was approximately worth $160 billion with an equity size of $35 billion last Friday, an endeavor is currently underway concerning the valuation and auditing of the transferred assets by the fund. According to a Turkish daily, Dünya, the fund is exploring various types of instrument models, especially in Islamic finance. For this reason, the issuance of sukuk is a major focus of the agenda for the fund.

#Morocco Receives $7.6 Billion from Islamic Development Bank

During the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges forum held in Rabat, bank president Bandar Al-Hajjar spoke about the strategic ties between Morocco and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Al-Hajjar noted that Morocco has received a total of USD 7.6 billion from the IDB since its establishment in 1974 and currently the bank is carrying out a number of projects estimated at USD 1.2 billion. Al-Hajjar also praised Morocco’s efforts towards renewable energy, saying that there is a bilateral cooperation between the IDB and Morocco to share Moroccan experiments in this field with Sub-Saharan countries. The IDB has supplied Morocco with several loans over the past few years. In 2014, the IDB amounted to MAD 1.8 billion to Morocco in order to carry out drinking water supply projects, as well as the olive sector for small farmers. The IDB has also embarked on signing agreement with partners to invest in Morocco. In 2014, it signed a joint agreement with Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) to invest in the Moroccan private sector.

Kuveyt Turk gets nod for 2 bln lira #sukuk, closes Dubai unit

Turkish participation bank Kuveyt Turk has received regulatory approval to raise 2 billion lira ($555.8 million) via sukuk, as it expands its domestic footprint while winding-down its Dubai unit. Kuveyt Turk, 62% owned by Kuwait Finance House , would sell the lira-denominated sukuk to qualified investors through its asset-leasing company, KT Kira Sertifikalari Varlik Kiralama, according to a regulatory filing. No timeframe or tenor were given for a potential deal. New funding could help the bank's plans to expand its branch network to 400 offices this year from a current 385. The bank increased its net profit by 22% and total assets by 15% in 2016. In December, however, the bank said it would terminate all activities of its wholly-owned subsidiary in Dubai, as it had not established a commercial advantage. It will continue to service the Gulf region via its branch in Bahrain, while concentrating on its operations in Turkey and Germany.

QIIB to begin operations in #Morocco with four branches

Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani bin Abdullah Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) inaugurated the bank’s new branch at the Mall of Qatar. CEO Abdulbasit Ahmad Al Shaibei said the bank is expected to start its operations in Morocco by the first quarter of 2017 with four branches. The lender had signed a joint venture agreement with the Moroccan Bank Credit Immobilier et Hotelier (CIH) for the establishment of a bank in Morocco in December 2015. Under the agreement, QIIB will have 40% stake in the proposed bank. The new QIIB branch is on the ground floor of the Mall of Qatar, considered to be one of the most important shopping destinations in the region.

Gulf Finance House distances itself from finance harbor plan

Bahrain's Gulf Finance House (GFH) is distancing itself from its major Tunisian property project, Tunis Financial Harbour (TFH). GFH's local subsidiary, Tunis Bay Project Co is to drop out of the residential golf course project.

Halic Leasing widens #Turkey's #Islamic #finance market

Halic Leasing is expanding its sharia-compliant business portfolio to tap demand from small businesses. This is a sign that Turkey's Islamic finance market is growing beyond traditional banking services. According to Halic's General Manager Gokcen Sahin, the company is building a portfolio of leased assets and is targeting new business of around $25 million by the end of the year. Halic also aims to attract further investments from Islamic mutual funds while expanding into construction equipment later this year. The plans come after the firm's new shareholders injected fresh capital at the end of last year and set up a sharia committee to ensure its products conform to Islamic principles. Gokcen Sahid added that with a good quality portfolio, Halic may also consider raising funds via sukuk in the future.

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