Arab News

ADGM and KPMG launch #FinTech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and KPMG have come together to launch the first FinTech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge on Oct. 22. The Innovation Challenge includes an intensive five-week program for innovative and mature start-ups to conceptualize and present market-ready solutions that address real business challenges in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. During the program, 10 finalist teams will work divided into six focus areas: Financial and Investment Management, Financial Inclusion, RegTech, Trade Finance, InsurTech and Private Capital Markets.The finalists will showcase their solutions at the FinTech Demo Day in Abu Dhabi to a panel of industry experts. Each finalist will benefit from mentoring sessions and fast-tracked consideration for admission to ADGM’s Regulatory Laboratory (RegLab) program. They will also win a $15,000 cash stipend to cover any costs associated with travel matters and accommodation.

#Dana #Gas takes offer to #creditors off the table in $700m #sukuk row

Dana Gas has withdrawn an offer to creditors to exchange its debt of $ 700 million Islamic bond for new notes. Thereby ending the chance of a consensual resolution to a case that could shape the future of the global Islamic finance industry. The gas company is refusing to repay holders of its Islamic bond which matures in October. It said last month it had received legal advice that the bond was no longer Sharia-compliant in the UAE because of changes in Islamic finance interpretations over the recent years, and was therefore not lawful. But creditors say Dana has to pay them back and argue if the sukuk was legal when the deal was struck, it holds, and if it was illegal then it would mean the company is in default.

Dana debacle highlights need for unified Islamic finance regulator

A recent report from Standard & Poor’s said that Islamic financial assets had accelerated toward the end of 2016, but that such progress was unsustainable in the long term. The agency pointed out too that a lack of standardization was a barrier to creating a truly global industry based in the Middle East. The Islamic economy would continue to grow but at much lower rates than in the boom years from 2007 onward. It is against this background that recent events at Dana Gas should be seen. In 2013, the company issued sukuk totaling $700 million. Dana, which does a lot of its business in Egypt and Iraq, had problems getting paid in those countries. Earlier this month, Dana said it had received new legal advice which meant its sukuk were no longer to be considered Shariah-compliant. The Dana debacle confirms the belief that what is really needed is a much more standardized regulatory approach in the Islamic finance market.

Workshop on #Sukuk Model Law project held

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) organized a regional consultation workshop on Sukuk Model Law project. The workshop was organized in partnership with the Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam and was held in Brunei capital. Participants included senior officials of financial authorities from the IDB member countries in the ASEAN region, namely Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Maldives, as well as from Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. The project aims to create a model Sukuk law and guidelines that allow IDB member countries and other jurisdictions a basis for a legal framework for Sukuk issuance and regulation. This was the second of four regional consultations on the Sukuk law. The first consultation was held in Senegal, Africa, and other two are planned for Europe/Central Asia and the MENA regions.

Jadwa Investment launches Jadwa #REIT Al-Haramain Fund

#Saudi Jadwa Investment announced the conclusion of the public offering of its first Shariah-compliant Real Estate Investment Traded Fund, Jadwa REIT Al-Haramain Fund. The new fund will invest in real estate properties in Makkah and Madinah. The REIT, which has an initial size of SR660 million ($176 million), offered SR360 million worth of units to the general public. Over 5,800 individual and intuitional investors subscribed for SR4.53 billion during the offer period, resulting in a 1.257% coverage of the offered units. Haitham Al-Ghannam, head of alternative investments at Jadwa, said the initial portfolio of the REIT would comprise of two hospitality assets, a four-star hotel and a pilgrim accommodation. Both properties are located in Makkah with a combined capacity of 984 hotel rooms. At its initial offer price of SR10 per unit, the REIT offers net initial yield of 5.2%.

ICD and TUV SUD to develop private sector in Central Asia

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and TUV SUD signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to foster their joint operations in the countries of Central Asia. ICD's CEO Khaled Al-Aboodi and the managing director of TUV SUD Central Asia, Anar Ahmadov, signed the MoU on behalf of the two corporations in Astana, Kazakhstan. The aim of the MoU is to facilitate cooperation in promoting private sector participation and inform about business opportunities in countries of Central Asia. This partnership will enable the two institutions to work closely on market studies related to the transit and logistic sector in the common member countries.

1st regional #consultation on #Sukuk Model Law held

The first workshop on the Sukuk Model Law was held in Dakar, Senegal. The event was organzied by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), in partnership with the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). A number of experts and finance officials from the eight BCEAO member countries participated in the event. The project aimed to create a model Sukuk law and guidelines that leverage global best practices. Subsequent regional consultations are planned for South East Asia, Central Asia and the MENA regions. Speaking on the occasion, IRTI Director Mohamed Azmi Omar said the workshop reaffirmed the importance of Sukuk as an increasingly significant instrument of resource mobilization.

#Conference on challenges in #sukuk markets

The Sukuk Conference organized by the Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) in collaboration with the World Bank will be held on Dec. 6, 2016. Government officials and representatives from the World Bank and the private sector will participate in the conference. The conference sessions will include topics such as: elements of sukuk markets, dynamics of sukuk markets, establishment of an effective environment for sukuk market, regulatory issues in the sukuk market and the role of debt markets in economic growth. The CMA aims to encourage the issuance of debt instruments and also to promote the economic development of the Kingdom within the 2030 Vision.

Bank AlJazira expands #remittance business amid downturn reports

Bank AlJazira (BAJ) has announced an ambitious expansion plan. BAJ currently operates 40 Fawri remittance centers and plans to open several new branches across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Bank's Senior Vice President Sami Hamad Al-Rajhi said Fawri has a vast overseas network of payout locations in more than 200 countries and will continue to expand. He pointed out that money can be sent through Fawri to all major countries like India, Philippines and Pakistan, which are the three top remittance recipient countries, and Bangladesh, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Yemen, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco and many more countries around the globe. In addition, Fawri offers buying and selling of bank notes, namely for dollar and euro currencies. Fawri will be able to deal in all major currencies in the near future.

SEDCO Capital’s second real estate income fund acquires new properties

SEDCO Capital announced the acquisition of seven real estate assets over the past 19 months, bolstering the firm’s realty portfolio in Saudi Arabia. The purchased assets include the Hyper Panda retail in Dammam, Olya School in Riyadh, Dar Al Baraa School in Riyadh, an Extra Store in Dammam, Alhamra Plaza retail strip outlet in Riyadh and Irgah Plaza retail strip outlet in Riyadh. The acquisitions collectively total SR473 million in purchase price for approximately 88,000 sqm of built up area. According to Hasan Al-Jabri, CEO of SEDCO Capital, the total assets under management reach the $5.2 billion mark and clearly show clients' confidence in SEDCO.

Middle East's AuM declines in 2015, says BCG study

According to the annual benchmark report of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the global growth of asset management stalled in 2015 as the industry recorded its worst year since the 2008 financial crisis. Growth in assets under management (AuM) stalled — or in the case of the Middle East declined 10%. Flows of assets, revenue growth and revenue margins all dipped lower in 2015. AuM decreased in North America and the Middle East but rose elsewhere. Growth was modest in Europe and strong in Latin America and Asia, excluding Japan and Australia. The 10% growth of AuM in Asia, excluding Japan and Australia, was relatively robust. BCG reports that the global value of AuM rose just 1% in 2015, to $71.4 trillion from $70.5 trillion in 2014, after growing 8% that year. Asset managers will have to shift from outdated product strategies and develop disruptive investment capabilities.

International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation names CEO

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has appointed Hani Salem Sonbol as its CEO. As ITFC is an autonomous member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) the announcement was made at the 41st annual meeting of the IDB in Jakarta. Sonbol expressed his thanks to Ahmad Mohamed Ali, president of IDB’s board of directors. He held several leading positions, including deputy CEO of ITFC, director of the IDB Group Regional Office in Rabat, and director of trade finance and development department at IDB.

IDB signs SR200m rural health plan for India

The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has signed a SR200 million agreement with an Indian non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide medical care for poor rural people. The money is part of a SR1 billion donation which was given by a Saudi benefactor to be utilized for the benefit of poor people across the globe. The benefactor earmarked SR200 million for India, thereby funding 15 mobile health clinics, which the IDB will maintain for the first five years. The rest of the money is reserved for the deployment of 60 mobile clinics in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Endowment forum to focus on huge untapped resource

Minister of Islamic Affairs Saleh Al-Asheikh inaugurated Sunday the 3rd Endowment Forum in Riyadh. On the first day of the two-day event, sessions were held on endowment management systems and on endowments and their application. On Monday, sessions covered topics such as the reality of endowment in Saudi Arabia, international experiences in endowment, as well as the institutional structure of endowment. In addition to the discussion sessions, other activities included an exhibition and consultation service on endowments along with workshops on establishing endowments, modern trends in using endowment revenues, factors of successful investment, and the reality of charitable association endowments in the Kingdom.

ICD has big plans for SMEs, says CEO

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and OJSC Agroinvestbank of the Republic of Tajikistan have signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation to consider extension of a line of financing facility to OJSC Agroinvestbank as part of the country program allocation of $25 million for Tajikistan. The line of financing facility will be extended by OJSC Agroinvestbank to the SMEs sector to project’s in industrial, communication, technology, health, construction and agricultural sectors. Khaled Al-Aboodi, CEO and general manager of ICD, said the SME sector is important in all the member countries, including the higher income ones. ICD is now focusing on this sector by extending lines of finance to local banks in addition to the establishment of ASR Leasing Company in Tajikistan.

Turkey banking chief sees looser regulations after interest rate hike

Turkey is likely to loosen some regulations on domestic banks to spur lending, Huseyin Aydin, the head of the national banking association said, as the government looks to ease the impact of a widely expected central bank rate increase. The government is determined to pursue growth-oriented economic policies. It is expected that easing in macro-prudential measures will be carried out. Five years ago regulators introduced tighter rules designed to cool lending and close a yawning current account deficit. Those included higher reserve requirements, forcing banks to hold more capital.
Aydin said he expects changes to regulations on reserve requirements and risk weighting of assets, which should help to offset the impact of tighter monetary policy on bank costs.

NCB capital initiates Tadawul platform

Saudi Arabia’s NCB Capital (NCBC) has launched a new AlAhli Tadawul platform designed to empower clients with more efficient tools and all the support and information they need to stay informed of promising investment opportunities available. The new reports and smart analytical tools include free features that automatically analyze the market and highlight promising opportunities. The availability of various trading channels enables traders to trade and keep track of stocks at any time and from any place. Additionally, the TeleTrading Service enables users to trade anywhere, even without an Internet connection. Live up-to-the-second stock prices are provided to all traders free of charge.

Germany urges more Islamic finance integration globally

Islamic finance is increasingly important in the global economy and needs to be better integrated into the international financial system, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told at the G20’s Investment and Infrastructure Working Group. The World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and countries including Saudi Arabia and South Africa had shared their practical experiences with asset-backed financing and Islamic finance in particular over the past year, he said. The asset-backed nature of Islamic finance should in theory make it ideal to build highway networks, ports and other big projects. An estimated $800 billion worth of infrastructure financing will be needed each year in Asia alone over the next decade, according to the Asian Development Bank.

IIB appoints new CEO

Bahrain-based International Investment Bank (IIB) has appointed Subhi F. Benkhadra as its new CEO. Benkhadra, previously the CEO of Abu Dhabi-based Baniyas Investment & Development Company, replaces acting CEO Fareed Bader, who continues in the role of executive committee member at the bank. Benkhadra is described as an experienced financial leader with a wealth of experience in traditional and Islamic investment banking in the UK and the Middle East. Benkhadra graduated from the University of Bath in 1987 with a BSc in environmental engineering and holds a MBA in finance from City University Business School.

ABG becomes women empowerment partner for Islamic banking

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), in cooperation with the Supreme Council for Women (SCW), has announced Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) as the women’s empowerment partner for Islamic Banking for the year-long campaign to celebrate and promote the role of women in the financial and banking sector. The year-long campaign has already featured a series of events, including a number of roundtable and town hall sessions that have brought industry leaders and women of all levels within the sector together to discuss and debate topics of importance. These events culminate with the main Women in the Financial and Banking Sector Conference being held on Nov. 30, at the Four Seasons Hotel, Bahrain Bay.

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