Arab News

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.

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.

Strict foreign investment rules ‘may limit inflows’

Middle East fund managers have on balance become bearish on the region’s biggest stock market, Saudi Arabia, after oil’s rally ran out of steam and the Kingdom confirmed strict rules on foreign investment, a monthly Reuters survey shows. The survey of 15 leading investment firms, conducted over the past 10 days, shows none expects to raise its equity allocation to the Middle East in the next three months — the first time this has been recorded since the survey was launched in September 2013. The proportion intending to cut equity allocations has risen to 20 percent from 7 percent. Also, falling trading volumes and thin corporate news flow indicate that markets are already slipping into a summer lull.

SAMA ‘will welcome insurance mergers’

A number of Saudi insurance firms have been loss-making for years because of severe competition in the market, where large companies with capital of some SR1 billion ($267 million) dominate small firms capitalized at around SR200-SR400 million, which find it hard to compete. That's why Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) would welcome mergers among local insurance companies as long as they were positive for all parties, said Governor Fahad Al-Mubarak. He said SAMA was working hard with the managements of insurance firms to study their internal situations and develop restructuring plans so they could return to profitability.

Islamic banking industry in KSA set to reach $683 billion by 2019

The Islamic banking industry in Saudi Arabia is set to achieve $683 billion of Shariah-compliant assets by 2019, according to EY’s World Islamic Banking Competitiveness report. A strong demand from customers, both retail and corporate, has led to significant growth in Islamic banking in Saudi Arabia resulting in 54 percent of all financing being Shariah-compliant in 2013. Overall, the size of Islamic banking assets in Saudi Arabia has nearly doubled from 2009-2013. One in three of the positive sentiments analyzed in the kingdom were about branch experience, indicating that customers were generally satisfied in this area of service. While online and mobile banking services has taken off well in Saudi Arabia, it’s sustainability remains a cause of concern.

GCC significant repository of capital

According to the recently released “Global wealth management outlook 2014-15: New strategies for a changing industry” by Strategy&, the GCC has been the most consistent of the emerging markets, recording growth of 16 percent or more each year since 2010 and doubling total private wealth from $1.1 trillion to $2.2 trillion for an overall compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5 percent. The UAE led the GCC countries with 25 percent CAGR, followed by Oman (21 percent) and Bahrain (18 percent), which grew from much smaller bases. Not surprisingly, high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) continue to account for the largest chunk of the region’s wealth at 41 percent.

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