Gulf Business

Islamic Development Bank Picks Banks For Potential Sukuk

Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has picked seven banks to arrange meetings with fixed income investors ahead of a potential sukuk issue. The banks are CIMB, Commerzbank, First Gulf Bank, HSBC, Natixis, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered. IDB will hold roadshows in the Middle East and Asia commencing February 23, with a dollar-denominated Islamic bond to follow subject to market conditions. The AAA-rated bank last sold a sukuk in May, when it priced a $1 billion five-year Islamic bond with a profit rate of 1.535 per cent.

Bahrain: Banking On Consolidation

The global financial crisis as well as the political unease over the last few years have led to weaker performances in Bahrain's banking sector, particularly wholesale banks. Along with banks in other markets, Bahrain-based banks have de-risked their balance sheets, concentrating on more stable sources of funding and reducing their exposure to riskier sectors. Besides, there have been a number of bank mergers in Bahrain recently. However, Bahrain has a more limited shock- absorption capacity compared to other GCC countries, like a budget highly sensitive to oil prices, a weak non-oil revenue base and modest fiscal reserves. Moreover, the political situation remains uneasy. As with other GCC institutions, the stronger Bahrain-based banks are widening their reach in other markets.

Dubai’s GEMS Sets Initial Price On Hybrid Sukuk

Dubai-based GEMS Education has set initial pricing thoughts of an 11.75-12.00 per cent profit rate for its planned debut sale of hybrid Islamic bonds. The company, which employs about 11,000 staff and operates around 100 private schools across the Gulf region, has hired Morgan Stanley Inc, Credit Suisse and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) to arrange the sale. The sukuk sale will use a mudaraba structure and will be callable after five years. No details on the planned size of the offering was provided.

Veteran Gulf Banker Plans Investment Bank In Dubai

Emad Mansour, a veteran Gulf Arab banker, is planning to set up an investment bank in Dubai’s tax-free financial zone. Mansour, who has about 20 years of investment banking experience in the region, was most recently the chief executive of Doha-based Qatar First Bank (QFB). The executive will file an application to the regulator of Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), and aims to launch the business in the first half of 2014. His firm will initially focus on private equity transactions and then will move on to offering M&A, equity and debt capital markets advisory services before starting asset management operations. Other former investment bankers from the region have also set up specialist boutiques betting on a continued upturn in activity.

Special Report: The Future Of GCC Insurance

The Gulf insurance industry is growing as government spending increases but the sector is suffering from overcapacity in certain markets, which threatens to drive the smaller insurance companies into financial turmoil. Generally, the low level of penetration levels in the Gulf region has granted ample room for the insurance sector to flourish, according to an insurance report by Dubai-based Alpen Capital. The rising wealth of a young population, an increase in expatriate numbers and a growing awareness of insurance products are all helping to boost the industry. Regulators can play a role by developing guidelines to further ensure both the financial strength of insurance firms and the protection of customers.

Bank Dhofar CEO Resigns Amid Merger Talks

Bank Dhofar, has announced the resignation of its chief executive Anthony Mahoney for personal reasons, effective September 26. The Omani lender has appointed Abdul Omar Al-Ojaili as its acting chief executive. Bank Dhofar is planning to merge with Bank Sohar with a view to creating Oman’s second-largest bank. The new entity would have total assets worth 4.1 billion rials ($10.7 billion), according to quarterly financial statements, and a market capitalisation of around $1.8 billion. Bank Dhofar shares have risen 14 per cent year-to-date.

Dubai Islamic Bank settles Tamweels liabilities

Dubai Islamic Bank announced that it has settled all bilateral liabilities of mortgage provider Tamweel, two years ahead of scheduled maturity. The outstanding liabilities were part of a five-year moratorium. The bank cited “robust capitalisation and ample liquidity” as the reasons for early repayment.

Dubai Duty Free Names Banks To Arrange $750m Expansion Loan

Dubai Duty Free (DDF) has picked Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Emirates NBD, and Standard Chartered to arrange a $750 million loan to fund the company’s expansion at the world’s second-busiest airport and improve its capital structure. DDF’s new dollar-denominated transaction will be priced at 225 basis points (bps) over the London interbank offered rate (Libor). This is 25 bps inside the revised pricing on the dollar tranche of the previous loan. No lifespan for the facility, which will be arranged. The loan is structured so that banks can commit to either a conventional tranche or one compliant with Islamic principles.

Dubai Islamic Bank To Offer 100% Mortgages

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) is to offer UAE nationals mortgages worth 100 per cent of their property in conjunction with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Housing Establishment. DIB will offer housing loans worth up to Dhs2 million over a 25-year period, with interest rates starting at 3.99 per cent. The announcement by DIB is in partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Housing Establishment (MRHE), which ‘aims to enhance the quality of life for UAE nationals living in Dubai by helping them access superior housing’. The move flies in the face of impending regulations from the UAE’s Central Bank that is expected to cap lending for local first-time homeowners to 80 per cent of the home’s value and 75 per cent for expatriates, with lending for additional homes expected to be capped at 65 per cent and 60 per cent.

UAE Central Bank Asks Lenders About Exposure To Turkey

The United Arab Emirates central bank has asked local commercial banks in the country to provide details of their financial exposure to Turkey by Tuesday. The aim is reportedly to review the investments. The UAE’s financial ties to Turkey have expanded in recent years because Gulf banks are looking to diversify out of the region’s oil-focused economy and are hamstrung by a lack of potential acquisitions at home. UAE banks have also increased their exposure to Turkish debt, particularly sukuk. Sales of Turkish sukuk to Gulf investors may increase further as Turkey expands its offerings. A new regulation limiting exposure to Turkey is not expected despite the UAE's central bank's action unless the data compiled exceeded the norm.

Bahrain Bank Al Khair Eyes Retail Push With Khaleeji Merger

Islamic banks Al Khair and Khaleeji have set up a committee to study the feasibility of a merger, with any agreement subject to due diligence and approvals by shareholders and the regulator. Bank Al Khair, a Bahrain-based investment bank, expects its potential merger with local player Khaleeji Commercial Bank to help provide it with retail banking exposure and more stable revenues. A merger would create an entity with paid-up capital of about $500 million and assets in the range of $600 million to $1 billion. An independent firm is now finalising valuations for the two businesses. A deal would probably involve both cash and an exchange of shares. Bank Al Khair posted a first-quarter loss of $2.8 million, while Khaleeji had a profit of BD302,000.

Can Dubai Become The World’s Leading Islamic Business Hub?

Dubai recently announced that its latest aspiration was to become the leading Islamic business hub in the world. Under the umbrella of Islamic finance, the emirate is hoping to provide the best facilities for Islamic finance instruments, Islamic insurance, the halal food industry and Islamic trade and quality-management standards. Dubai has numerous advantages as an Islamic finance hub, like its existing strong business and financial infrastructure as well as an established regulatory framework and political and socio-economic stability. Moreover, the emirate plans to set up a central Shariah board to supervise all Islamic financial products used in Dubai. However, the emirate needs to integrate a Shariah- compliant business framework with the already established conventional framework. Furthermore, Dubai also faces rivalry from the other GCC nations.

Emirates Islamic Bank Reports 101% Q1 Profit Jump

Emirates Islamic Bank (EIB) reported a first quarter net profit of Dhs33.2 million, a 101 per cent increase compared to the previous year. The total income for the three months rose up by 42 per cent to reach Dhs443 million. EIB also reported a 42 per cent increase in operating profit before an impairment of Dhs195 million in the first quarter. The bank’s non-performing ratio as of March 31, 2013, improved to 19.2 per cent, from 20.4 per cent on December 31, 2012. EIB’s customer deposits stood at Dhs26.3 billion while the customer financing increased five per cent to Dhs20.7 billion. The bank maintained a financing-to-deposit ratio of 93 per cent, and a capital adequacy ratio of 16.3 per cent. According to Jamal Bin Ghalaita, chief executive officer of Emirates Islamic Bank, the bank has targeted segments of SME and priority customers and also continued to develop its commercial segment.

Oman’s Alizz Islamic Bank Eyes Q3 Launch -COO

Omani lender Alizz Islamic Bank, the second full-fledged Islamic bank in the sultanate, plans to begin operations in the third quarter of this year, according to its chief operating officer Jamal Darwiche. Last October, the bank raised OMR40 million ($104 million) by selling 40 per cent of its capital through a month-long initial public offer of shares. It is targeting a 3.5 per cent share of financing and a 3.6 per cent share of deposits in Oman’s banking sector by 2017. Moreover, it aims for annual growth in total assets, financing and deposits of 15-20 per cent, and to build a customer base of between 65,000 and 100,000 accounts over five years.

Kuwait Watchdog Urges Better Islamic Finance Oversight

Kuwait's Capital Market Authority (CMA) published a statement on Tuesday about self-regulation by Islamic financial institutions to ensure compliance with Shariah standards. The statement recommends to appoint a sufficient number of legal observers in accordance with the size of the institution and to provide full transparency in their communications with compliance officers. The CMA also urged companies’ sharia boards to take more care to issue rulings that were in line with each other.

High-Profile Islamic Finance Firm Dar Al Istithmar Closes

After advising Goldman Sachs on a controversial 2$ billion sukkuk programme, Dar Al Istithmar has closed down.
Sources say that most of the staff moved to Khalij Islamic, with offices in London and Dubai. Clients have moved to Khalij Islamic as well.

Banking Special: Assets And Profits Soar In Qatar

In 2012, Qatar’s banking sector was buttressed by high oil and gas prices and a large-scale infrastructure programme. The banking sector continuously benefits from substantial GDP growth in the economy of the country. Real GDP reached 19% in 2011. This increase was caused by strength in oil prices and the substantial increase in LNG production to 75mnt (from 55mnt). The latter was able to drive hydrocarbon sector GDP up by more than 30%. The output of the non-hydrocarbon sector continued its growth as well, sustaining a 9% rate due to ongoing capital expenditure on infrastructure development.

EXCLUSIVE: Noor CEO: UAE Rule On Lending “Challenging”

According to a senior banker, UAE banks face difficulties in implementing the central bank’s new regulations on curtailing lending to government firms. Noor Islamic Bank's CEO - Hussain Al Qemzi - explains that the objective of the central bank is not clear enough. He further adds that it is not the optimal timing for exercising control and putting in place regulations so that banks do not have enough time to change the situation. They are unable to sell the huge amount the possess of these assets in such a short time in the market available.

Kuwait’s Boubyan Sees Islamic Banking Boom

According to the chairman of Boubyan Bank, the growth rate of Islamic finance in Kuwait is the double of the one of conventional banking. In his opinion, strong demand throughout the Arab region can be expected. The country's Islamic banks reached credit volumes of 11.1 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($39.3 billion) during the first nine months of the year. This is 13.2% more than during the same period last year. Conventional banks on the other hand registered a 5.6% credit growth. Since the demand for sharia-complaint banking is so high in Kuwait, Boubyan has no intention to expand overseas yet. This contrasts with Kuwait Finance House (KFH).

Kuwait’s Commercial Bank To Liquidate Investment Unit

A bourse filing says that Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) intends to liquidate its investment unit. According to the bank, closing CBK Capital would not affect the bank's financial position in a negative way. It is said the bank has a capital of 15 million dinars ($53.5 million) and has undergone some restructuring. Activities have been reduced for a number of years.

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