CPI Financial

ADIB plans to end several banking services in the #UK

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has announced plans to streamline its UK operations in a bid to end several banking services and to focus on commercial real estate financing. The bank will refrain from providing regulated services to customers, which includes account services, savings, deposits and safe deposit boxes. The bank said that the decision follows a rigorous evaluation process that took into consideration the high demand for commercial real estate financing in the UK. The bank has built a strong full-service property financing solution to support clients’ investment strategies in commercial real estate in compliance with Islamic Shari’ah principles.

AAOIFI partners with Turkish Islamic banks to promote Islamic finance

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has signed an MOU with the Participation Banks Association of Turkey (TKBB) to collaborate in the promotion of Islamic finance in Turkey. AAOIFI and TKBB agreed to work in areas of common interest, such as the meaningful exchange of information and conducting joint capacity-building programmes. Osman Akyüz, the Secretary General of TKBB, said that they would also focus on increased representation of Turkish experts in AAOIFI’s boards and committees. AAOIFI Secretary-General Omar Mustafa Ansari emphasized the role of TKBB for the growth of Islamic finance in Turkey and assured the full support of their initiatives and activities.

Dubai Islamic Bank completes the acquisition of Noor Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has completed the acquisition of Noor Bank through a share swap deal. As part of the agreement, DIB has issued 651 million new shares to take its issued share capital to 7.2 billion shares. The new DIB shares have been listed and admitted to trading on the Dubai Financial Market. The GCC financial services industry is witnessing a wave of consolidation as banks seek ways to improve competitiveness. Earlier this week, the National Bank of Bahrain acquired a 78.8% stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank. Similarly, Alizz Islamic Bank’s Board of Directors approved a share swap ratio for the proposed merger with Oman Arab Bank.

Dubai’s Fajr Capital sells its stake in Bank Islam Brunei

Dubai-based Fajr Capital has completed its divestment from Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) to Brunei Investment Agency. Fajr Capital stated that this transaction marks another successful exit for the firm, following several recent high-profile divestments. The bank’s transformation journey resulted in enhanced customer experience through the introduction of internet banking and new digital platforms, international expansion and improved financial performance with the bank’s net income more than doubling.

Alizz Islamic Bank approves share swap for proposed merger with OAB

Alizz Islamic Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a share swap ratio for its proposed merger with Oman Arab Bank (OAB). The share swap ratio is around 81%: 19% for the shareholders of OAB and Alizz Islamic Bank respectively. The proposed merger and the indicative swap ration will remain subject to the approval of the shareholders. On completion of the merger, Alizz Islamic Bank will continue to operate as a dedicated Islamic banking franchise with management autonomy.

NBB acquires 78.8% stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank

The National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) has acquired a 78.8% controlling stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB). The offer which initially opened on 18 December 2019 was launched by NBB in a bid to develop its Islamic banking activities. NBB’s CEO Jean-Christophe Durand said that the two banks would remain independent and BisB would remain listed on Bahrain Bourse. The Islamic bank will continue to operate under its normal course of business as well as maintain its operations as a subsidiary of NBB. The settlement of the offer is expected to take place on 22 January 2020.

Evolving Islamic fintech

In this interview Stalla Cox CBE, the Managing Director of DDCAP speaks about her company and the evolving Islamic fintech scene. DDCAP Group was established over twenty years ago and has always selected its global expansion strategically. DDCAP opened in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in 2008. Following the turn of 2000, there was significant repatriation of Shari'ah compliant capital to the Middle East. At a similar point in time, DDCAP was also invited by Bank Negara Malaysia to join a steering group that was formed in response to the Malaysian financial authorities granting permissions to Islamic banks from the GCC to do business locally. Consequently, a regional office was opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The global financial services industry is moving at an incredible pace. With ETHOS AFP, DDCAP managed to create an enabling platform with global reach and provides a fully integrated treasury trading workflow for Shari’ah-compliant transactions.

Are bank mergers in the GCC as profitable as they seem?

In the past two years, we have seen a number of bank mergers take place in the GCC. While the cost synergies of a bank merger can be tempting, the strategies to execute such a consolidation vary significantly and there is no "one size fits all" approach. A number of GCC banks observe a healthy capital position, requisite scale, and supportive shareholders also provide the necessary impetus for international expansions. However, not all international expansion strategies have yielded desired returns. In the past few years, one of three GCC banks incurred losses in their international operations. Only two out of every five banks are witnessing improvement in returns compared to the previous year.

Noor Bank reshuffles board ahead of merger with DIB

UAE’s Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) is progressing with the acquisition of Noor Bank whose board of directors has been reconstituted recently. Following the reshuffle, Noor Bank’s board of directors now includes Adnan Chilwan, the Group CEO of DIB and Yahya Saeed Ahmed Nasser Lootah, Hamad Buamim as well as Ahmad Mohammad Saeed Bin Humaidan and Abdulla Ali Obaid Al Hamli. DIB shareholders gave approval for the acquisition through an increase of the bank’s capital from 6.6 billion shares to 7.2 billion shares, with a share swap ratio of one new share in DIB for every 5.49 Noor Bank shares. The GCC financial services industry is witnessing a wave of consolidation as banks seek ways to improve competitiveness and boost capital amid slowing economic growth.

IIRA reaffirms GFH Financial Group’s BB / B fiduciary ratings

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed its 'BB/B' international scale ratings at GFH Financial Group (GFH), with a stable outlook. GFH's key business lines include investment banking, real estate development as well as the recently expanded treasury and proprietary investments and commercial banking undertaken through its 55.4% holding of Bahrain-based Khaleeji Commercial Bank. The group’s capital adequacy ratio reduced to 14.5% in Q3 2019, remains comfortably above the Central Bank of Bahrain minimum of 12.5%. The bank’s cost rationalisation measures among other strategies are expected to result in boosting of profitability over the coming periods.

#Kuwait’s Warba Bank receives licence to conduct securities activities

Warba Bank has obtained licence from the Capital Market Authority (CMA) to engage in certain securities activities. The new licence allows the lender to conduct activities like investment portfolio manager, collective investment scheme manager as well as investment manager, subscription agent and custodian.

Creating footsteps in Kuwait’s Islamic banking sector

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) has embarked on a digital transformation journey. Kuwait and Bahrain have each launched their respective digital banking platforms and soon, Malaysia will have its own. By the end of 2018, a seamless digital customer experience is expected to be publicly available. In Malaysia the KFH is active in the infrastructure financing front, supporting the third light rail transport system (LRT 3) and the second Mass Rapid Transit (MRT 2) projects through the provision of Islamic financing facilities. The project is expected to benefit the local communities through the promotion of real estate developments around the proposed train stations. Furthermore, the project is expected to generate more than 2,000 jobs during the construction phase.

How Lombard Odier got into the Islamic investment space

Lombard Odier has launched a full suite of Shari’ah-compliant investment solutions. Arnaud Leclercq, Limited Partner at Lombard Odier Group, said the offering began as a bespoke creation for one client six years ago, it has grown from a $10 million to in the hundreds of millions, primarily for investors in the Middle East. The investments are a mix between Sukuk and equities. Equities are chosen using a combination of MSCI’s Islamic Index and Lombard Odier’s inhouse experts. The goal is to reach $1 billion in total Islamic investment the next three to five years. Lombard Odier plans to increase its presence in the Middle East, with an office in Abu Dhabi for the coming year currently in the planning stages and a partnership with a Saudi firm currently in the works.

Supporting Islamic #fintech’s growth

In this interview Ayman Sejiny, CEO of Ibdar Bank, talks about founding the Bahrain Fintech Bay. Bahrain Fintech Bay (BFB) is working to build a fintech ecosystem that will support industry growth and position Bahrain as a regional fintech hub. Sejiniy believes that the days of 'e-banking' are nearly over and the shift to mainstream digital finance is becoming a reality. Ibdar is an early adopter, transforming its organisation into a fully digitised Islamic Investment Firm for the Global Islamic Digital Economy (GIDE). Ibdar bank provides opportunities in aviation, real estate, Sukuk and investment funds. The bank is also expanding its services to include an array of Investment Advisory services.

Reconciling #cryptocurrency in Islamic finance

Over the last few years, the market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies has reached a near $400 billion with over 1500 currencies been created. Among them, bitcoin has been the most popular with a market capitalisation of over $150 billion. Currently, there are divergent opinions regarding the Islamic understanding of bitcoin among Shari’ah scholars. A section of Shari’ah scholars believe that bitcoin is purely speculative, while others believe that it is a digital asset and not money. There are also some who completely differ and opine that bitcoin is currency. According to Dr. Arindam Banerjee, Associate Professor at Amity University, at the current stage crypto is not suited as a means of exchange in Islamic banking and financial institutions.

#Saudi refinance firm mulls #Sukuk issuance to fund mortgage drive

The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC) plans to begin issuing sukuk in late September or early October 2018. SRC aims to refinance 20% of Saudi Arabia's primary home loans market, which authorities hope to expand to SAR 500 billion by 2020. Currently Saudi Arabia’s primary home loans stands at SAR 290 billion. Fabrice Susini, CEO of Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company, said that the company will now begin issuing Sukuk to raise money, first in Saudi riyals but eventually in foreign currencies. The company was founded in 2017 by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and has so far operated with financing from the sovereign wealth fund and short-term deals with banks.

#Bahrain's Bank Alkhair sells stake in Turkish investment firm

Bahrain’s Bank Alkhair has sold its majority stake in Turkish investment firm Alkhair Capital, as the lender exits some markets. Bank Alkhair entered the Turkish market a decade ago, acquiring an initial 75% stake in the investment firm. The bank has faced a challenging business environment over the past year and is currently streamlining its business lines. Additionally, the bank sold its stake in Pakistani lender Burj Bank and in 2017 the firm upgraded its business licence in the UAE and expanded its capital markets business in Saudi Arabia in a bid to focus on other markets. Now Bank Alkhair has received approval to transfer its 95.79% stake in Alkhair Capital to Ankara-based A1 Capital. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

Noor Bank rolls out Noor Wealth

Noor Bank has launched Noor Wealth, a Shari’ah-compliant platform offering tailored product mixes. Noor Wealth targets customers with a minimum of AED 367,300 of assets under management or a minimum salary of AED 50,000. The bank offers mutual funds among other 10 lenders in the GCC and it also offers access to fixed-income products through its Sukuk platform and Islamic structured products. Noor Wealth collaborates with Knight Frank to offer global physical real estate services for its customers. Mufazzal Kajiji, Head of Retail Banking at Noor Bank, said that Noor Wealth currently serves clients from 10 countries and is in the process of expanding.

Lombard Odier launches Shari'ah-compliant #investment offering

Lombard Odier has launched a full suite of Shari'ah-compliant investment solutions. Arnaud Leclercq, Limited Partner at Lombard Odier Group said that since the offering began as a bespoke creation for one client, it has grown from a $10 million to in the hundreds of millions, primarily for investors in the Middle East. Lombard Odier's Islamic investments have averaged 4-5% returns since 2012. The goal is to reach $1 billion in total Islamic investment the next 3-5 years. The investments are a mix between Sukuk and equities. Equities are chosen using a combination of MSCI's Islamic Index and Lombard Odier's in-house experts. The clients serviced with these solutions are primarily from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Lombard Odier plans to increase its presence in the Middle East with an office in Abu Dhabi.

Islamic wealth management and its relevance in modern times

The objective of Islamic wealth management is economic justice through equitable distribution of wealth. This by no means restricts private ownership and entrepreneurship but a wider circulation of wealth and invested in socially beneficial economic activity. To serve social justice, wealth is not considered legitimately earned unless the risk-and-rewards are both shared in a financial contract: so one-sided no-risk-sharing contracts are not permitted. Islamic wealth management involves wealth generation, accumulation, preservation, purification and distribution. Creation of wealth is defined more broadly than in conventional practice. A set of filters are applied to financial transactions that ensure permissibility. Impermissible gains are expected to be distributed to the needy as a method of purification or cleansing. The process of cleansing applies in corporate finance and investment as well.

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