Europe

#Islamic #bank opens in #Glasgow and already has 2000 customers

Britain's first Islamic law compliant stand-alone High Street bank has opened for the first time in Scotland.
Al Rayan Bank, formerly the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), which has just over 2000 customers north of the border, has opened an office in Glasgow. The West Midlands-based bank will not pay or charge interest and is founded on an Islamic financial model in which the customer and the bank share the risk of any investment on agreed terms, and divide any profits between them. The move north comes some 12 years after IBB opened its first branch on Edgware Road in London.
A bank spokeswoman said that a key reason for the move was that it was able to form a partnership in Glasgow with the Islamic Finance Council, the advisory and developmental body, with which it shares its office location in Fitzroy Place, Glasgow. Cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work, Keith Brown said: “Al Rayan Bank’s welcome decision to expand its operations into Scotland for the first time highlights the real opportunity offered by ethical finance. This announcement reflects Scotland’s growing profile in ethical finance."

Brokers urged to serve Muslim clients better

The Islamic Insurance Association of London (IIAL) has called on brokers to better serve the needs of Muslim clients by offering solutions that comply with Sharia or Islamic law. The trade group conducted a global survey of potential buyers and almost 50% of the respondents felt that they were not offered the right option by their brokers when it comes to placement or renewal discussions. IIAL chairman Max Taylor said there is a real need for the Islamic insurance markets to work together to tackle the misconception that cover is not currently available. He added that global standards would create a level playing field and provide clarity for the buyers, leading to an increased appetite for Islamic insurance products.

Azimut and Maybank to jointly manage #sukuk fund, seek new markets

Italian money manager Azimut Holding will jointly manage its Islamic bonds fund with Maybank Asset Management Group to cater to growing demand for hard currency sukuk products. The partnership will allow the fund to penetrate new markets including Malaysia and Singapore, where Maybank Asset Management already operates. Azimut launched its global sukuk fund in 2013 which has over $130 million in assets. Maybank Asset Management launched a U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk fund of its own in 2014. Sukuk funds remain tiny compared to their conventional fixed-income counterparts, but the sukuk market has widened in recent years thanks to an increasing number of issuers and investors.

Sharia-compliant P2P lenders could enter market, banker reveals

According to Maisam Fazal, head of commercial finance at Al Rayan Bank, Sharia-compliant peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders could soon be coming to the UK market. Despite welcoming more firms to the Islamic finance market, Maisam suggested that rates as low as Al Rayan’s could make it off-putting for potential new entrants. He explained that having competitive rates was paramount for Islamic finance banks, as the cost of funding could make products more expensive. Maisam claimed that Al Rayan was unique in offering lenders Sharia-compliant debt.

Gassner's picture

Are Contract for Differences #CFD / #Binary Options halal? Well, no. Why?

Many Muslims contacted me in the last years with one single repeating question: Are CFD and/or Binary Options halal meaning permissible in Islam? There are indeed forex brokers offering so called Islamic accounts avoiding outright interest. But still: A contract of difference does not involve the ownership of any underlying (currency, stocks etc.) hence money against money is exchanged in different amounts - this is the most simple test for the prohibited Riba. Any Muslim receiving such offers should therefore insist of receiving the Fatwa and if not provided leave out.

The intention on those trading activities everyone can ask himself; mostly it will be akin to gambling and this on top of the fact that the trading activity itself is a zero sum game; meaning what one wins another looses, which rules out again to participate in such business. It does not do any better that aside from luck the outcome is influenced by know how - the same is true for classical money games as Poker or Backgammon. Still nobody would classify Poker therefore as halal.

Demand rises for #education in Islamic finance

The increasing economic importance of banks in Muslim-majority countries has made Islamic finance a useful skill. The globalisation of business education means that many schools now have campuses in countries where Islamic finance is a significant part of the local banking sector. British higher-education institutions lead the non-Muslim world in the teaching of Islamic finance, with longstanding courses run by London Business School, Durham, Aston, Bangor, Salford and Cass Business School. More than 60 institutions in the UK now teach Islamic finance, up from fewer than 10 a decade ago. London Metropolitan University is the latest UK institution to add an option to learn about the subject, relaunching its MBA in January with Islamic finance.

Christians and Muslims work together on pioneering ethical finance plans

The Church of Scotland and Islamic Finance Council UK are meeting at a private round table in the British Parliament. As part of the interfaith initiative for a more socially responsible financial system, faith leaders, parliamentarians and finance practitioners gather to agree a shared values framework. The joint venture was launched earlier this year in response to the systemic failure and non-sustainability of the current financial model. The event is the second in a series of three workshops. The first reviewed the theological and philosophical underpinnings of Christianity and Islam in order to identify commonalities. At the second workshop the shared values framework will be reviewed and refined before participants explore the practical obstacles to realising ethical finance. Omar Shaikh of the Islamic Finance Council UK said that bringing the debate to the heart of London sends a strong international message that faith communities can work together for the greater good of society.

#UK lifts sanctions on key #Iranian bank

The British government has announced that it has removed Bank Saderat Iran (BSI) from its list of sanctioned entities. The decision to delist the bank was in line with the amended regulations by the European Union regarding the lifting of sanctions against Iran. The regulations required the sanctions against the BSI to be maintained until 22 October 2016. Britain has previously lifted sanctions against three other Iranian banks. In January, the Bank of England announced that it had reactivated the licenses of Melli Bank, Persia International Bank and Bank Sepah International. This followed the implementation of a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries. Iran agreed to restrict certain aspects of its nuclear energy activities in return for measures by the P5+1 to remove certain economic sanctions imposed against the country.

First Sharia-compliant Lloyd’s #syndicate set for launch

Cobalt Insurance and Capita Managing Agency have received approval from Lloyd’s of London to launch the first Sharia-compliant syndicate of the specialist insurance market. Once it gets full approval, the new Lloyd’s business will be named Cobalt Syndicate 1438, which is the Islamic calendar’s number for the year 2017. Cobalt founder Richard Bishop said the aim of the syndicate was to look to underwrite new business from emerging markets and working with others in Lloyd’s to extend their participation in those markets. Cobalt will start underwriting in the first quarter of 2017 with initial focus on developing a property and specialty-focused book of commercial business from emerging markets in the Middle East, North Africa and Asian regions.

Brexit minimally impacts Islamic investments in UK – economic expert

According to leading expert on Islamic Finance, Mehmet Asutay, Brexit may have some effect on real estate investments in the UK but London will continue to remain the centre for Islamic investments. Asutay noted that if Islamic finance continues to invest in real estate in the UK, they might find another hub in Europe rather than the UK. He said that having a large amount of liquidity, the Gulf region has contributed to expansion of Islamic financing and he called for expansion of Islamic financing in other developing countries. Professor Asutay said that in Europe, the UK and Luxembourg have been developing strategies to become important centres for Islamic finance. But the UK is also aiming to become an important centre for teaching and learning Islamic Economics and Finance.

deVere Mortgages & Al Rayan Bank partner on Sharia-compliant mortgages

deVere Mortgages and Al Rayan Bank have announced that they have entered into a strategic partnership to offer Sharia-compliant mortgage alternatives. The alliance follows deVere Mortgages’ reporting of an average 55% increase in mortgage enquiries since the UK’s EU referendum, with the majority of these applications from people living in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman. Mike Coady, Managing Director of deVere Mortgages said the tie-up with Al Rayan Bank would add real value to their core market, which is Muslim and non-Muslim buyers based overseas who are looking to purchase property in Britain. Sultan Choudhury, CEO of Al Rayan Bank added that deVere Mortgages would help to reach an even wider group of people who are looking for ethical, Sharia compliant home and property finance.

Sarajevo exchange opens Balkans' first Islamic index

Sarajevo's stock exchange launched an Islamic index, a first for the Balkans region. Director of the Sarajevo stock exchange, Tarik Kurbegovic, said the SASX-BBI Index includes 25 Bosnian firms which respect Islamic teaching and was set up in cooperation with Bosnia Bank International (BBI), founded by Gulf countries. BBI director Amer Bukvic said that with this index investment in Bosnia by Gulf countries would grow in a significant way during the next three to five years. In the last few years, Gulf businessmen have invested significantly in tourist and residential real estate in Sarajevo and the surrounding region. The goal of the Islamic index is to direct new investment towards the sectors of agriculture, tourism, metallurgic industry and energy.

#UK P2P Finance Association Releases Major Research on Economics of Peer to Peer Lending

The UK Peer to Peer Finance Association (P2PFA) has released a commissioned study on the economics of the peer to peer lending market in the UK. The study focused specifically on the eight-member platforms of the P2PFA which collectively comprise over 75% of the UK market. Reinder van Dijk, Partner at Oxera consulting, called peer to peer lending a 'real innovation' bringing benefits to both borrowers and investors. According to the report, P2P lending has created additional competition and choice in the market for loans and investment. P2P lending provides new options for retail investors, opening up access to risk-and-return from an asset class of consumer and business loans with net returns of between 4% & 8%. P2P lending does not create systemic risk, P2PFA member platforms provide a level of transparency which empowers investors.

Le piège de la complexité

Le #Luxembourg a misé sur la finance islamique comme outil de diversification, mais les investisseurs se font encore attendre. Basé sur les règles de la charia et assez complexe, ce modèle fait pour l’instant du sur-place. Le Luxembourg a espéré, depuis plusieurs années, l’implantation d’une banque islamique sur son sol. Selon Eleanor de Rosmorduc, responsable du dossier pour Luxembourg for Finance (LFF), si le Luxembourg n’abrite pas de banque islamique, c’est avant tout parce qu’il n’y existe pas la population musulmane suffisante pour lui permettre d’exister. La principale difficulté pour le secteur au Grand-Duché, c’est surtout que les acteurs qui pourraient alimenter ce secteur ne sont pas basés au Luxembourg, mais au Moyen-Orient et en Asie. C’est cependant en train de changer.

Proposed economic crime offence may lead to senior manager prosecutions, say lawyers

Lawyers have warned that failure to prevent economic crime could lead to more senior individuals being prosecuted for misconduct. The UK government's proposed legislation could lead to deferred prosecution agreements with the Serious Fraud Office. The involved companies would potentially give evidence against individuals implicated in misconduct. According to Judith Seddon, partner at Clifford Chance, the corporate criminal liability will provide for an additional serious consequence of failing to satisfy existing requirements for anti-money laundering and financial crime prevention.

Bahrain's GFH sells remaining 18 pct of Leeds United

A Dubai-based subsidiary of Islamic investment bank GFH Financial Group has sold its remaining 18 % stake in English football club Leeds United, ending nearly 4 years of Middle Eastern involvement in the club. GFH Capital sold the stake to Eleonora Sport, operated by Italian businessman Massimo Cellino. Eleonora now owns 100 % of the club, Leeds United said.

GFH bought Leeds United in December 2012 but within months began looking for new investment in the club, and in 2014 Cellino bought a majority stake in it. GFH Financial did not reveal the price at which it sold its remaining stake but said the deal would reflect positively on its financials and liquidity for 2016. Crippled during the global credit crisis in 2008, GFH Financial went through several debt restructurings but has resumed expanding in the financial services sector. In August it signed a memorandum of understanding to buy most of Bahrain's Bank Al Khair.

Islamic banking lends advantage to financial Institutions

Switching from conventional ‘Western’ financial practices to Islamic banking gives distinct advantages to banks, with the change improving the liquidity and value of stocks. Researchers at the Universities of Birmingham and Brighton studied a merger that took place in Bahrain, between an Islamic bank and a conventional bank in the wake of financial crises that rocked the world between 2007 and 2009.

Their study showed that the 2009 acquisition of Bahrain Saudi Bank by the Islamic institution Al Salam Bank Bahrain (ASBB) prompted a significant increase in the liquidity of ASBB after adopting an Islamic banking system. Published in the Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, the study looks at how the amalgamated bank operated after the merger, concluding that Islamic banking offered the institution significant advantages.

Bosna Bank International H1 net profit more than doubles

Bosna Bank International announced its first-half net profit jumped to 3.2 million marka ($1.8 million/1.6 million euro) from 1.4 million marka in the same period last year. The lender's net interest income increased 31.5% to 10.9 million marka through June, while net fee and commission income rose 12.9% to 5.1 million marka. The bank's total assets stood at 768.7 million marka at the end of June.

Notes on a smaller island

There is little escape from the volatility that the Brexit vote has wreaked. Islamic banks' partiality for UK real estate could be particularly painful if property prices fall, as they are predicted to, by as much as 10%. Islamic banks' overreliance on the property sector is well documented, and Britain has long been a favourite destination for real estate investment. The biggest issue facing the UK financial services sector is whether institutions will retain their passporting rights. There is much at stake for Britain too. Islamic finance plays a significant role in infrastructure development in the UK, from The Shard to the Olympic Village. Over 6500 homes are currently being financed by a GBP 700 million investment by Gatehouse Bank. The UK cannot afford to lose this funding, especially when investment from Europe dries up.

Islamic finance could benefit #Italy after Brexit

Investors from the Islamic financial world could be the answer to Italy’s problems in the wake of the Brexit. On a recent conference in Italy, participants said this would require legislative changes to follow Islamic principles. A working group at the Lower House’s financial commission is looking into the matter. Participants also suggested issuing State bonds following the rules of Islamic finance. Under the proposal, the assets would consist of State-owned real estate, bought and re-sold by a company set up for the purpose, whose participating shares would be bought by investors.

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