Although Malaysia is a leader in Islamic finance research, very few of the research papers published have translated into feasible innovations, until recently. To help push the sector forward and bring the research and ideas to fruition, International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance, with the support of Bank Negara Malaysia, the Association of Islamic Banking Institutions Malaysia and the Malaysian Takaful Association, recently held the Islamic Finance InnoFest 2016. For this festival, INCEIF accepted idea submissions from all over the world, including Japan, Australia and Pakistan, to promote inclusiveness.
“We believe that to really push for innovation, we cannot be stuck in a silo. That is why it is not limited to only Malaysians,” says Associate Professor Dr Baharom Abdul Hamid, director at INCEIF’s Centre of Research and Publication and InnoFest chairman.
Saudi Arabia is joining forces with Japanese telecom firm Softbank (SFTBF) to form a tech investment fund worth as much as $100 billion, making it one of the largest on the planet. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said that over the next decade the fund would be the biggest investor in the technology sector. Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund will put up as much as $45 billion of the money, with Softbank throwing in at least $25 billion. Neither partner appears to be deterred by warnings of potential bubbles in the valuations of big startups and established tech companies in the US. Funding for startups has also plunged recently in India. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced an ambitious plan to create a huge sovereign wealth fund that would be worth 7 trillion riyals ($1.9 trillion) by 2030, which would make it by far the biggest in the world.
The relations between Malaysia and Japan is characterized by a special nature, not seen in any other countries in this region. The relations are underpinned by a strong bond, forged for a long time by a policy called the Look East policy. This Look East policy has worked as a lynch-pin between the two nations. Under this Look East policy, young people in Malaysia have been studying in Japan and this policy has brought back benefits through the brains and hands of those young people to help the Malaysian economy to invigorate. As Malaysia in an Islamic nation, Malaysia can open a gateway for Japanese investors to the markets of the Islamic nations. Some of the Japanese financial institutions have already started to issue Sukuk bonds.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today urged Japan to partner Malaysia in engaging in Islamic finance-related activities and tap the huge global market. With Japanese industrial expertise and technology, and Malaysia’s technical expertise in Islamic finance, he said there was an opportunity to establish a formidable alliance. On a much larger scale, he said that in late 2013, China announced the plan to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or AIIB, and currently has 57 charter members and a paid-up capital of US$50 billion.He added that Malaysia understands and respects that Japan has reservations over the AIIB, but regardless of the vehicle, it is apparent that Asian countries need to invest in tangible infrastructure assets.
Japan is the latest global financial hub to start making inroads into Islamic finance, a move that could help strengthen regional economic ties and give its lenders an edge in winning business in markets whose growth prospects far outpace their home turf. A regulatory effort is expected to facilitate development of the sector, and could even help Japan counter any loss of regional influence ahead of the launch of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) is considering allowing banks to provide Islamic products in the domestic market for the first time.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the government of Jordan will begin work in the coming weeks on a debut issuance of Islamic bonds. In October, JICA signed an agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), to develop its Islamic finance capability. Jordan is JICA's first target. JICA and ICD will start their joint technical assistance to the country within a month, Tetsutaro Kon, director in charge of Middle East operations at JICA, said. The consultation would continue over the next six months and address details such as currency and tenor of the sukuk.
Japanese banks' Islamic finance capabilities could be boosted following a Financial Services Authority (FSA) consultation. The consultation, which runs until March 27, is expected to open the onshore sukuk market - a boost for Asia's largest domestic bond market. This proposal broadens the products that Japanese banks can offer. It will allow banks to provide Islamic finance services to their clients, so that they can lend in the forms of commodity murabahah andijarah. It also adds clarifications for banks to make certain investments in the forms of mudarabah andmusharakah as well as certain derivatives transactions.
Japan's three megabanks are considering whether and how they will offer financial services under Islamic law overseas now that the Financial Services Agency will allow them to engage in such operations at their foreign branches starting as early as April. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group would offer deposit and lending services that are permissible under Sharia at its Dubai branch in the United Arab Emirates as early as fiscal 2015, pending approval from the local authorities. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. may offer similar services at its branches in Dubai and Singapore. Mizuho Financial Group likely will make its London branch the operational centre for Islamic finance in the Middle East.
Zilzar Tech Sdn Bhd (Zilzar) has announced the appointment of Mr. Akira Miyama to its Advisory Board. He joins six other international members: Mr. Saleh Lootah, Mr. Safdar Khan, Mr. Rafik Kassim, Mr. Ebrahim Pate, Sir Iqbal Sacranie and Mr. Rahman Khan. Mr. Miyama recently retired as Executive Director of RHB Bank. He also served as Director of RHB Investment Bank, Director of RHB Sakura Merchant Bankers Berhad and Non-Independent Non- Executive Director of RHB Capital Berhad. Zilzar is a B2B and B2C global information, content, community, and trade platform for the Muslim Lifestyle Marketplace.
Tokio Marine Family Takaful’s newly appointed Managing Director Masaya Inagaki comes to Egypt with great expectations for the Egyptian insurance market. Inagaki said that providing a service with high quality at a reasonable price for customers is a core concept in Japanese culture, and that he is determined to apply that in Egypt. His goal is to make Tokio Marine Family Takaful the number one Takaful company in the country, he added. The company also intends to cooperate with banks in light of the new regulations issued lately by the Central Bank to activate banking insurance.
There is a growing role for Japan in the development of the Islamic finance market, according to RAM Ratings. RAM said tax reforms were introduced in 2011 to level the playing field for the issuance of J-Sukuk and conventional bonds for tax purposes, and amendments had also been made to Japanese Securitisation Law to facilitate the issuance of J-Sukuk. While there has yet to be any issuance of J-Sukuk in the Japanese market, BTMU Malaysia Bhd – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ – has taken the first important step by debuting a US$500mil Sukuk programme in Malaysia in September.
Dentons has advised Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (Malaysia) on an Islamic commodity murabahah facility of US$100 million to the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector. Qasim Aslam, Partner and the Head of Islamic Finance - Middle East, commented: "This marks another example of the significant efforts leading Japanese financial institutions are making to work together in making Islamic finance available across borders. We are very proud to have assisted BTMU on this landmark transaction." The Dentons team was led by Qasim Aslam and senior associate Tien Tai based in Dubai
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) will issue Islamic bonds in two tranches under its debut multi-currency sukuk wakala programme in Malaysia. BTMU will issue US$25 million (RM81 million) in a US dollar tranche and 2.5 billion yen (RM74 million) in a yen tranche on Thursday, a statement said. Both sukuk issues will have maturities of one year; the statement did not give other details such as pricing. Malaysia's CIMB Investment Bank is managing the issues. BTMU, part of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, set up a US$500 million multi-currency sukuk programme through its Malaysian unit in June.
Japan’s Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is set to issue a two tranche Wakala Sukuk. At present the bank is allowed by the regulator in Japan only to handle Islamic financial transactions out of Malaysia through a subsidiary called BTMU Malaysia. BTMU will issue the Sukuk in a $25m US$ tranche and a 2.5bn yen tranche with both tranches carrying maturities of one year. CIMB Investment Bank is managing the issues.
The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) hopes to expand its Islamic finance business across Asia and the Gulf, buoyed by a landmark multi-currency sukuk programme set up in Malaysia. BTMU, part of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, set up its sukuk programme in June. The programme will allow its wholly-owned Malaysian unit, BTMU Malaysia Berhard, to raise the equivalent of $500 million via sukuk with tenors of up to 10 years. It provides an alternative funding source for BTMU Malaysia to manage its liquidity to match increasing and growing exposures in multi-currency sharia-compliant financing. No timeframe was given for the first transaction, although the bank is increasingly active in the Islamic capital market.
BTMU has plans to issue Sukuk in Malaysia and hoping to tap the demand in the fast-growing Islamic Capital markets. The bank is considering floating bonds denominated in dollars and yen, with target on Middle Eastern pension funds and Islamic insurance companies. This would mark the first issuance of yen-denominated Sukuk. BTMU expects demand from investors that seek to diversify. A growth in Sukuk could provide a channel for Japan to attract Islamic money.
Several Japanese institutions are establishing and expanding their Islamic finance businesses. Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking for example made a Shariah-compliant deal with Brunei Gas Carriers (BGC). Other financial institutions and insurance companies focus on Malaysia to offer their Islamic products.
Japanese financial institutions have started offering Islamic financial services in Muslim countries in the region. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking for example arranged a Shariah-compliant deal with a shipping company affiliated with the Brunei government. Meanwhile, other financial institutions are expanding their Islamic banking services. Especially the markets for Islamic financing in Malaysia and Indonesia are expected to grow.
Banks from Japan to Bahrain are aiming to open offices in Malaysia to take advantage of the growth in Islamic finance assets in the world’s biggest sukuk market.
Mizuho Financial Group Inc has applied for a licence to offer foreign-currency Syariah-compliant services in the country. An aproximatly equal licence was given to Bahrain’s Elaf Bank B.S.C. in June.
Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) stated that it will launch a new Sharia opportunity fund in the region with exposure to equity markets across the Asia-Pacific region.
Prudential Asset Management Limited is the one offering the fund. It will search to invest in Sharia-compliant companies in the APAC region excluding Japan. It will also try to capitalise on the sustained economic growth and increasing wealth across the APAC region.