MENA

GCC financial regulators encouraged to promote use of sukuk to fund infrastructure

The value of sukuk being issued in the GCC has been falling, but there is still opportunity in the market, Zamir Iqbal, lead financial sector specialist at the World Bank said. The potential lies in the huge infrastructure financing, but a proper legal and tax environment for the structuring of the sukuk and the SPV laws must be established. There’s already excess liquidity in the market, and banks are looking for high-quality, highly-rated sukuk, Iqbal noted. The International Monetary Fund said in November that the GCC region was suffering from a lack of availability of Sharia'a compliant financial instruments, or tradable assets, leading to excess liquidity and to an uneven playing field for Islamic banks.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Gemeinschaftsbank für Leihen und Schenken (GLS) Invests $15m in Sanad Fund for MSME to Deploy in Middle East, North Africa

Gemeinschaftsbank für Leihen und Schenken (GLS), a German bank that focuses on investing in socially responsible and ecological projects, recently invested EUR 13 million (USD 14.5 million) in Sanad Fund for MSME, a Luxembourg-based public-private partnership that provides debt and equity financing in the Middle East and North Africa. As of March 2016, Sanad has raised total investor commitments of USD 186 million. As of 2013, GLS had total assets of EUR 3.2 billion (USD 4 billion), deposits of EUR 2.8 billion (USD 3.5 billion), a loan portfolio of EUR 1.7 billion (USD 2.1 billion) and 165,000 customers.

Finance participative au Maroc Un écosystème en constitution

La dernière déclaration du gouverneur de la Banque centrale sur la création imminente des banques participatives rassure sur la marche des préparatifs, tout en marquant un report inattendu de l’échéance, que les opérateurs ainsi que le marché attendaient pour le 16 mars 2016, soit quatre mois après la date de dépôt des demandes d’agrément, conformément à l’article 34 de la loi 103-12. Bien sûr, le même article dispose que ledit délai ne court qu’après la réception de tous les documents et des réponses aux questions complémentaires de l’autorité monétaire, et le gouverneur a pris soin de rappeler que les entretiens étaient en cours.

Too important to fail—addressing the humanitarian financing gap

UN study paper on the humanitarian financing gap.

Excerpt:
"The world today spends around US$ 25 billion to provide life-saving assistance to 125 million people devastated by wars and natural disasters. While this amount is twelve times greater than fifteen years ago, never before has generosity been so insufficient. Over the last years conflicts and natural disasters have led to fast-growing numbers of people in need and a funding gap for humanitarian action of an estimated US$ 15 billion. This is a lot of money, but not out of reach for a world producing US$ 78 trillion of annual GDP.

QIIB expects Morocco JV approval by third quarter

Qatar's Islamic lender QIIB achieved increase and growth in its various banking activities over the past year. The AGM approved the Board of Directors' proposal to distribute 40% cash dividends of the nominal value per share which is equivalent to QR4 per share. Besides, the bank is expecting approval from authorities in Morocco for its joint venture by the end of third quarter this year. The lender had signed a joint venture agreement with CIH Bank (Credit Immobilier et Hotelier), a Moroccan bank, for the establishment of a bank in Morocco in December last year. Under the agreement, QIIB will have 40% stake in the proposed bank.

World Bank Group, United Nations, and Islamic Development Bank Pledge Support for Stability in Middle East and North Africa

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President of the Islamic Development Bank Group Dr. Mohamed Ali Al-Madani arrived in Lebanon today at the start of a joint visit to rally global support for the shared responsibility of promoting peace and development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The three organizations are jointly supporting an initiative to raise additional financing needed to help countries in the region cope with the immediate consequences of conflict, while laying the foundations for recovery and reconstruction. Following the Lebanon visit, World Bank President Kim and Secretary General Ban will travel together to Jordan and Tunisia.

Tokio Marine Egypt General Takaful plans 56% rise in investments this FY

Insurer Tokio Marine Egypt General Takaful plans to increase its investments in the country by 56 percent in the financial year 2015/16 to 46.8 million Egyptian pounds (5.3 million), its managing director said. Satoshi Furuya further said that the group's investments had surged to 30 million pounds by the end of the financial year 2014/15. Tokio Marine Egypt General Takaful's investments are Shariah-compliant, notably in governmental bonds, treasury bills, in addition to deposits in investment accounts with Islamic banks, Furuya added. The company is part of Japan-based Tokio Marine Group.

New Israeli Crowdfunding Platform Will Raise Zero-Interest Loans for Social Impact Enterprises

The main obstacle encountered by most social impact enterprises is a credit crunch. LivinGift wishes to solve this problem, by offering zero-interest loans to social impact enterprises through crowdfunding. The Israeli-based platform is now open for applications for all forms of organizations: non-profit organizations, NGOs, for-profit companies and cooperatives. The platform will be launched this upcoming April, in both English and Hebrew. Social impact enterprises will have to show double impact strategy: social or environmental impact, alongside a sustainable and profitable economic model and a fixed income.

CIH Bank accélère sa mutation

Année charnière pour CIH Bank qui compte étoffer davantage son périmètre de consolidation. 2016 marquera, entre autres, la naissance de la filiale dédiée aux OPCI (organismes de placement collectif immobilier). L’entité, créée conjointement avec la CDG, devra se concentrer sur la gestion de sociétés et de fonds investis directement ou indirectement dans l’immobilier locatif. L’entreprise devra attendre la promulgation de la loi 70-14, qui régit ce nouveau véhicule de placement ainsi que l’agrément du nouveau gendarme de la bourse. Entre temps, la banque se prépare pour le lancement de son autre filiale, dédiée à la finance participative

Call for Papers: Global Donors Forum, Istanbul May 2016, 24-25

Resetting Priorities - Redefining Roles

Five years ago, the Global Donors Forum was convened in Dubai to take on a challenging task: to define the roadmap for Muslim giving into the next decade. As a growing network of philanthropists, grantmaking foundations and socially responsible corporations, the Forum lead a consultative dialogue among the thought leaders from which, it was hoped, a new social compact could emerge.

Half a decade on, with the world having changed dramatically as events in the Middle East would attest, the Global Donors Forum 2016, has a new set of issues to focus upon. Foremost among these is the need to rigorously analyse the past decade in order to ascertain how best to formulate strategies to counter emerging challenges. The GDF 2016 will, therefore, attempt to set new priorities as it looks to redefine the role of philanthropy, with a focus on the Muslim world in a radically changed global landscape.

'Excellent future' for Mena Islamic bonds, says NBAD

The future of Islamic bonds in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) seems "excellent" in the medium-to-long term, but lack of supply and right price is "stifling" demand and liquidity in the market, according to NBAD. Finding that oil prices will be a key determinant of sukuk returns in 2016, NBAD said the uncertainty over the likely trajectory in the US interest rates, the bear market in oil, and increasing fiscal concerns across the region all contributed to a bearish tone in the market, causing many issuers to remain on the sidelines. Although GCC sukuk investors remain natural buyers, they have tightened their credit quality criteria, and become much more price sensitive.

Mena sovereign borrowings rise sharply

The Middle East and Northern African (Mena) sovereigns are expected to borrow an equivalent of $134bn from long-term commercial sources in 2016. This compares with borrowing of $143bn in 2015, which was more than double the $68bn that the region is expected to be borrowed in that year, Standard and Poor's "Mena Sovereign Debt Report 2016" noted. However, the ratings agency noted that its updated estimate for 2015 includes an additional $30bn in borrowing by Iraq. It has included Iraq in the survey for the first time, having assigned it sovereign credit ratings in September 2015. All in all, it is estimated that GCC countries' borrowing at $40bn in 2015 rather than the $5bn S&P projected in March 2015.

"Omar Al Mukhtar" social housing project in Sijoumi reaches progress rate of 65%

The progress rate of the second phase of the social housing project "Omar Al Mukhtar" in Sidi Hassine Sijoumi (capital western suburbs) is now 65% and the project will be completed by late August 2016. The handover of keys is expected before the end of 2016, noted the Minister of Public Works, Housing and Spatial Planning Mohamed Salah Arfaoui, at a visit Tuesday to the site of the project along with Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. The project with an estimated cost of nearly 54 million dinars financed by Qatar through a donation (40%) and a free-interest loan (60%) will help build 810 social residential units.

Banks: Tunisian Zitouna invests on Islamic finance

Tunisian Islamic bank Zitouna was the first to succeed in placing on the national financial market in December 2015 the Islamic bonds sukuk for a value of 22.5 million euros. The result exceeded expectations - set at 20 million euros - the management of Zitouna said. at a Forum on Islamic finance held at Kram in Tunis. The Forum was attended by several protagonists of the Tunisian economic and financial scenario like central bank governor, Chedly Ayari, the president of Cmf, Salah Sayel and former finance minister, Jalloul Ayed. Zitouna bank, on behalf of its president Ezzedine Khoja, has announced it is launching a new business plan in 2016-2020 with the objective of becoming the bank of reference in Tunisia and a leading Islamic bank in Africa.

Au Maroc, la finance islamique émerge doucement mais sûrement

C’est un chantier attendu depuis plusieurs années au Maroc qui sera inauguré sous peu. La finance islamique (ou participative) a fait l’objet d’une rencontre à laquelle plusieurs experts ont pris part ce mercredi 24 février, dans le cadre de la 7e édition du Forum africain de la finance islamique (FAFI) organisée à Casablanca, qui s’achève demain. Le développement de la finance participative devrait permettre au Maroc d’atteindre entre 3 et 5% du total des actifs bancaires, soit un potentiel estimé à 70 milliards de dirhams environ. Au Maroc, des décisions ont été prises pour disposer d’un comité "Charia" centralisé. Les infrastructures logistiques ont aussi commencé à se développer.

JIC chief promotes Kingdom's Islamic banking, halal food

Jordan Investment Commission (JIC) President Thabet Al Wir highlighted the Jordanian experiments in Islamic banking and halal food as a gate for cooperation with Germany to support the Kingdom's investment and economic environment. At a meeting with a German delegation representing the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the German Federal Ministry of Finance, Wir described the Jordanian expertise in Islamic banking as top at the regional and international levels. The Kingdom is also among the first countries to accredit the Islamic banking system, he said. The presence of many Muslim communities in Germany provides a chance for the country to benefit from the Islamic system in its banking sector, the JIC president added.

Al Baraka Bank to pump $127.7mn in Egypt SMEs this year: chairman

Al Baraka Bank Egypt, part of Bahrain's Al Baraka Group (ABG), is planning to pump one billion Egyptian pounds (US$127.7 million) to support Egyptian SMEs, its chairman Ashraf El-Ghamrawy said. The investments, with a five percent interest rate, are in favour of the central bank's initiative to advocate small and medium-sized enterprises. Earlier, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the banking sector would inject 200 billion Egyptian pounds ($25 billion) to support small and medium businesses. Within this year, Al Baraka Bank Egypt plans to sign a new partnership worth 200 million pounds with the Social Fund for Development (SFD) to finance small and medium businesses led by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

Islamic Development Bank provides $200,000 to finance capacity building project

Jordan's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury and President of the Islamic Development Bank Ahmad Mohammad Ali have singed a $200,000 grant agreement under which the bank will finance capacity building project for societies. The agreement aims to improve the quality of life in rural areas to curb poverty, increase economic growth and integrate the poor in the local community. The total cost of the project stands at $350,000, $200,000 of which will be covered by the Islamic Development Bank while the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) will contribute $100,000 and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development $50,000. Fakhoury stressed the need to support the plan to enable Jordan to deal with the issue of hosting Syrian refugees.

Faisal Islamic Bank's volume of business surges 7.4% in January

Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt's volume of business has increased by 7.4 percent to register EGP 56.141 billion (US$7 billion) at the end of January 2016. The indicators also revealed that the bank's volume of business hit EGP 52.259 billion at the end of January 2016. Furthermore, the total assets of the bank increased by 7.6% from EGP 51.756 billion in January 2015 to EGP 55.701 billion in January 2016. In addition, the bank's current accounts and saving pools rose 7.5% to record 49.494 billion, compared to 46.048 billion in the same period of the previous year. However, the Liquid assets gained 6.6% to LE 3.081 billion, up from LE 2.889 billion in the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, the bank accounts inched up 3.5% to 1.157 million, up from 1.117 million a year earlier.

IMF: A Minimum Level of Security Must Be Adopted in Syria in Order to Assess the Economic Needs

The Deputy Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD) at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Adnan Mazarei said that it is necessary to establish a minimum level of security in Syria before the IMF and international institutions can evaluate its economic needs. In an interview, Mazarei said that the Fund estimates the urgent humanitarian needs and costs, the costs of reconstruction and contributes to the reconstruction of the institutions that were destroyed. He also said that the removal of sanctions on Iran will have a positive effect by allowing the country to produce and export more oil, it has also regained access to its international reserves which will also allow greater investment, and all of these things will encourage growth.

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