According to EY’s GCC Wealth and Asset Management Report 2016 'Global forces drive regional realities', the larger local banks in the GCC are approaching saturation in their home market and are starting to venture out to new markets such as Africa. George Triplow, EY's Wealth and Asset Management Leader says the UAE’s strong ties with African markets has encouraged a number of African businesses to use Dubai and the Dubai International Financial Center as an infrastructure hub. The regional retail wealth management sector faces the ongoing issue of lack of transparency and independence. According to Triplow, the key would be to provide lower costs, genuinely independent advice and technology-supported portfolio diversification with a focus on passive funds and exchange-traded funds, rather than complex structured products.
Noor Bank closed an AED 850 million Syndicated Islamic Financing Facility for Ajman Bank. The two-year Shari’a compliant facility shall be utilised towards Ajman Bank’s future growth plans. Noor Bank was mandated for the second time to act as Lead Arranger. Dubai Islamic Bank, First Gulf Bank, Sharjah Islamic Bank, The Arab Investment Company and Warba Bank joined the deal as Mandated Lead Arrangers, while National Bank of Bahrain participated as an Arranger. Commenting on the facility, Noor Bank's CEO Hussain Al Qemzi said that this syndication was testament to Noor Bank's service quality and the relationship amongst the two institutions. He expressed his gratitude to Ajman Bank and all the partner banks who helped to close the transaction.
Standard Chartered Saadiq plans to expand its Sharah-compliant products beyond its core markets such as Pakistan, UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Currently Standard Chartered Saadiq is the only international bank that covers all segments of Islamic banking ranging from retail, corporate and capital markets. Standard Chartered has operations across 16 African and 23 Asian countries. Analysts say the recent slowdown in growth of Islamic finance reflects more challenging economic conditions across a number of core Islamic markets. Despite the current challenges, the sector still has potential for further growth, especially in countries such as Oman, Turkey and Indonesia where the penetration of Islamic financing assets remain relatively low (between 5 and 10%) and there are recent initiatives supporting the growth of the industry.
The Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) and Dagong Global Credit Rating Company (Dagong) have jointly maintained foreign and local currency ratings assigned to the Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) on the international scale at BBB+/A3. The national scale ratings of ABG are assessed at A+(bh)/A2(bh) and denote its creditworthiness relative to the local environment. Political stability and policy continuity remain areas of concern in ABG’s core countries including Algeria, Jordan and Egypt, and most notably Turkey. On this account, outlook on the ratings is assessed as 'Negative'. Despite the increasing operating risks, the Group’s overall profitability remains steady and wealth creation capability is relatively strong.
Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) and Burj Bank have successfully merged operations under the name of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan). The amalgamated entity will operate with a combined network of 224 branches and net assets in excess of 120 billion. Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Chairman of Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) said that the merger was part of the group’s strategy to expand its reach in Pakistan and strengthen the global footprint of Islamic Finance. This merger will further catalyze the growth by establishing Al Baraka as an even stronger institution in the Islamic Banking sphere. The substantial increase in combined capital and branch network will help to reach out to a broader customer base with a full range of Islamic Banking services.
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.
Financing portfolio of Alizz Islamic Bank (AIB) reached OMR275.9 million in the third quarter of 2016, registering a growth of 62.4%, compared to the same period last year. Deposits grew by OMR123.4 million from the same period last year representing a growth of 84.7% and net operating income grew by 57.2% from the same period last year to reach OMR6.7million. Due to the increase in income, cost controls and monitoring of financing quality, the net loss of the bank reduced by 19.1% to reach OMR3.4 million. According to CEO Salaam Al Shaksy, the bank achieved stable growth, while maintaining a strong asset quality. Alizz Islamic Bank is one of the first specialised Islamic banks in Oman, that has consolidated its presence within a short period of time.
Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group plans to expand its network in Pakistan following its merger with Burj Bank. CEO Adnan Ahmad Youssef said the Group's strategy in the Pakistani market was built on expansion in all Pakistani cities. Burj Bank’s 74 branches will be added to those of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) to form a network of 224 branches. Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) aims to increase the number to 300 branches in the next four years. The merger is expected to take effect from the last quarter of this year, and the Bahraini bank will be the major shareholder in the merged institution. Al Baraka Banking Group is also setting up in Morocco after the North African nation introduced legislation allowing Islamic banks into the domestic market. With this entry the Group completes its network in almost all Arab Maghreb countries.
Abu Dhabi government-owned Al Hilal Bank has recently appointed Craig Bell as chief financial officer. Bell previously worked in New Zealand, Britain, Costa Rica, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, Al Hilal said. According to his LinkedIn profile, his previous post was chief financial officer at Saudi British Bank.
Shareholders of Jaiz Bank unanimously voted for its shares to be listed and traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The bank disclosed that this development will now open windows of opportunities for numerous individuals who desire to own shares in Jaiz Bank. Chairman of the Bank, Alhaji Umaru Abdul Mutallab, said the Bank’s authorized Share Capital has been sub-divided from 15, 000, 000, 000 Ordinary Shares of N1.00 each to N30, 000, 000, 000 Ordinary Shares of 50k each. Also speaking at the event, CEO Hassan Usman said once listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, existing shareholders can trade their shares while new investors can also invest by buying the shares.
HSBC Amanah Malaysia has appointed Arsalaan Ahmed as its chief executive officer (CEO). HSBC Amanah announced that Arsalaan will be leading the Islamic banking businesses for retail, commercial and wholesale banking, and reporting to HSBC Bank CEO Mukhtar Hussain. Prior to joining HSBC Amanah, Arsalaan was appointed as the head of capital financing and financial institutions of Barwa Bank in Doha, Qatar, where he led the development of the Islamic debt capital market and wholesale banking platform. Arsalaan has 15 years of experience and has distinguished himself as an expert in syariah-compliant retail, corporate and investment banking.
Gulf Finance House (GFH) said the negotiations are underway for acquisition of Bank Alkhair of Bahrain. The due deligence is continuing and formalities are yet to be completed. In a separate statement, GFH said that its unit has won a case against its former deputy chief executive. The verdict issued in favour of GFH’s unit is for circa $5 million (Dh18.4 million). Earlier in the month, the GFH board has approved the proposed settlement with assets of an estimated $350-450 million, subject to counterparties’ fulfillment of their obligations. The company said the estimated value of the assets is preliminary and subject to regulatory approvals and will have a positive impact on GFH’s financials for the fourth quarter of 2016.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) reported nearly flat third quarter net profit, thus being the latest bank in the United Arab Emirates to suffer from a rise in bad loans as a result of the economic impact of lower oil prices. ADIB made a net profit of 508.9 million dirhams ($139 million) in the three months ending Sept. 30, compared to 503.2 million dirhams in the same period a year ago, up 1.1%. Earlier this month, ADIB chief executive Tirad al-Mahmoud said the bank's earnings in the second half would be similar to the opening six months of 2016. ADIB booked credit provisions and impairment charges totalling 267.7 million dirhams in the third quarter, compared to 193.0 million dirhams in the year-ago period. Net revenues in the third quarter were up 7%, reaching 1.37 billion dirhams compared to 1.28 billion dirhams in the prior-year quarter.
Emirates Islamic Bank has approved a new plan to double its share capital to Dh10 billion from the earlier Dh5 billion. The shareholders also approved a plan to issue and allot Dh1.5 billion at the nominal value of Dh1 each. The bank has also approved the change of the memorandum and articles of association to reflect changes in the share capital.
The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), Aktif Bank and Ijarah Management Company (IMC) have signed a Shareholders Agreement for Joint Strategic Collaboration. Aktif Bank has entered into the Turkish leasing sector by acquiring 32% shares of Haliç Finansal Kiralama (Haliç Leasing) and is planning to primarily fund the growth of SMEs in Turkey. Haliç Leasing will be able to raise the long term funds locally and internationally via Sukuk issuances thanks to extensive knowledge of Aktif Bank on capital markets. CEO of Aktif Bank, Serdar Sümer, said that instead of increasing the number of branches, the bank focuses on diversifying its products and alternative distribution channels. CEO of ICD, Khaled Al Aboodi, said that Haliç Leasing will be the eleventh Islamic leasing company that ICD has invested.
More than 400 Islamic banks and financial institutions are now operating in over 60 countries from different regions. The Dubai Center for Islamic Banking and Finance (DCIBF) has released its second annual report on Islamic economy during the third Global Islamic Economy Summit in Dubai. The report focuses on the efficiency performance of 131 Islamic banks operating globally and other various key facets of Islamic banking. The Kuwait Finance House (KFH) received the highest efficiency score, followed by Al Inma Bank from Saudi Arabia, which obtained the top score in terms of cost-efficiency. Although it is expected that Islamic banking will continue to grow globally, the report warns that it may face challenges especially in countries that heavily rely on oil and other commodity prices. In this regard, diversification of the industry and further expansion is essential for its sustainable growth.
The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and Afriland First Bank have signed an agreement in which both parties will cooperate to establish an Islamic Window in Ivory Coast. The cooperation reflects ICD's ambition to promote Islamic Finance in its member countries and support its growing presence and activities in Africa. The agreement was signed by Khaled Mohammed Al-Aboodi, CEO and Managing Director of ICD and Olivier Dadjeu Kengne, CEO and Managing Director of Afriland First Bank Ivory Coast. Both directors expressed their strong support for the partnership. The partnership with ICD aims to diversify Afriland First Bank's activities and meet the needs its customers, particularly the needs of a large Muslim community, which is actively involved in trades.
Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has launched a new automated complaint management system, a system that helps customers to track the status of an issue and to understand what is happening at every step in the process. The complaint management system is accessible by all employees, ensuring that every person working for the bank is able to contribute to improving customer service. The moment a request/complaint is logged into the system, a text message (SMS) is sent to the customer providing a unique reference number related to the inquiry. This allows QIB customers to get easy updates on the status of their complaint any time. Upon a suitable resolution of each case, QIB customers receive a closing/confirmation SMS. Constantinos Constantinides, the bank's chief strategy officer said the new system would increase customers’ satisfaction and maintain their loyalty to QIB.
UAE-based telecommunications provider 'du' has been selected by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) to deliver opex-driven co-location services in the UAE. ADIB will be able to develop its operations with a foundation in secure data centre infrastructure as well as flexible and scalable network options. Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO of du, said the company's Data Centre and Managed Services are designed to enable rapid growth. ADIB will drive new cost-efficiencies while benefiting from infrastructure that is ready to scale and adapt as its business grows. du provides an ecosystem of network infrastructure to give customers easy access to Cloud service providers and markets across the MENA region. du’s data centre services won the best Enterprise Service award at Telecoms World Awards 2016.
Dubai has announced it is in advanced discussions to set up the Shari'a compliant Emirates Trade Bank which will specialise in international trade and commodity financing. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of the Executive Council, has nominated a founding committee for the establishment of the bank. Emirates Trade Bank will be the first of its kind global Shari’a compliant bank exclusively offering integrated trade solutions, through mobilising the infrastructure and logistics ecosystem of the UAE. Sami Al Qamzi, vice chairman of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC), said the Emirates Trade Bank is set to reap synergies from Dubai's strategic positioning. On Tuesday, Sheikh Hamdan said Dubai is set to launch ambitious projects as part of a plan to transform the city into the capital of the Islamic economy by 2021.