Financial Institutions

#Pakistan sets rules for banks wanting to be fully sharia compliant

Pakistan's central bank has issued guidelines for banks that want to be fully-fledged sharia compliant, setting a three-year time frame for applicants to complete the process. The rules aim to accelerate the growth of Islamic banking in the country. Eligible applicants must have existing Islamic finance operations and the conversion process must start within six months of approval. After the conversion of conventional branches, the applicant can then apply for a fully-fledged Islamic banking license. Such conversions are rare in Islamic finance but are seen as a way to increase the scale of the bank and widen its reach into under-served rural areas. Islamic banking in Pakistan currently includes five fully-fledged Islamic banks and 16 conventional banks offering Islamic financial products. As of March, they held assets worth 1.9 trillion rupees ($17.9 billion), a 16% increase from a year earlier and 11.7% of total banking assets. However, their capitalization and profitability ratios remain below the industry average.

ANALYSIS: Can GCC Islamic banks escape the oil-price cycle?

More and more stakeholders concede that the Shari’ah-authorized way of banking has hit a glass ceiling. They acknowledge that Islamic banking and financial services have largely failed to innovate at the speed they were expected to. It is also admitted that Islamic finance is caught in an oil-price cycle, definitely in the Gulf and wider Middle East region. Global rating agency, Standard & Poor’s, estimates that Islamic banks in the GCC are expected to face a tough year ahead. According to S&P Head of Islamic Finance, Mohamed Damak, GCC Islamic banks’ asset quality indicators will deteriorate in the second half of this year and in 2018. Very few Islamic banks have set aside significant amounts of profit-equalization reserves. As for oil price, both Islamic and conventional banks are affected and must adopt a new strategy that is not highly dependent of energy prices. For that a diversification of the economy is needed, which doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.

World’s Largest Islamic Bank Successfully Completes Ripple #Blockchain Trial

Saudi Arabia’s largest bank recently completed its first cross-border transfer using Ripple technology. Having Al Rajhi Bank on board is a major validation for the blockchain service provider. Money was transferred between Al Rajhi Bank offices across Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The transfer took mere seconds to complete and reduced fees to a bare minimum. Completing this trial will help Saudi Arabia digitize the customer banking experience even further. More specifically, digitizing the banking experience will allow for faster and cheaper transactions. Al Rajhi Bank runs over 200 remittance centers across the country. The whole Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may soon see mass adoption of Ripple’s ecosystem.

Interview with Ahmed Abdul Rahim, Chief Executive Officer of Ithmaar Bank

In this interview, Ahmed Abdul Rahim talks about Ithmaar Bank’s recent performance, the global Islamic banking industry and the increasing use of technology in banking. Ithmaar Bank is now entirely focused on retail banking and is considered one of the biggest Islamic retail banks in Bahrain. The waiting period at the branches has been reduced and the customer is provided various delivery channels for services like call center, Internet banking, EasyPay and mobile banking. EasyPay is the first-of-its-kind mobile-payment service in Bahrain. The service enables customers to shop simply by tapping their mobile phones at the checkout counters of participating merchants. As a pioneering Islamic retail bank, Ithmaar ensures that all its products and services are compliant with Islamic Sharia rules and that business is conducted accordingly.

Three-way bank #merger in #Qatar aims to close by year end -sources

Executives working on a three-way bank merger in Qatar expect to finish valuing the deal in the coming weeks. Shareholders at Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar are committed to pushing ahead with the deal despite the current embargo by some of Qatar's Arab neighbours. A shake-up has long been mooted in the Qatari banking sector given that 18 local and international commercial banks serve a population of 2.6 million. The more than two-week travel and diplomatic boycott could further dent bank performance if the dispute drags on. In December, Reuters reported that the trio had begun merger talks which would create the Gulf state's second-largest bank. The new bank, which would be run in compliance with Islamic banking principles, would have assets worth around 160 billion riyals ($43.6 billion).

IIRA maintains ratings of #Bahrain Islamic Bank

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed ratings of Bahrain Islamic Bank (BIsB) at BBB/A2 on the national scale and BBB-/A3 on the international scale. IIRA added that the bank’s rating outlook is constrained by the macroeconomic environment and tougher industry conditions for banks in the Gulf. Given the presence of external, regional concerns, the outlook on international scale ratings is assessed as Negative. Impairment in recent financings remains minimal, indicating improvement in the bank's business underwriting capability. However, overall asset quality concerns remain notable. IIRA has assigned BIsB a Fiduciary Score of 71-75, which signifies that the rights of various stakeholders are adequately protected.

Warrants issued for 78 Bank Asya senior executives: 47 detained

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 78 senior executives of Bank Asya, which was confiscated by the Turkish government. Bank Asya was associated with the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 due to its links to the Gülen movement. Forty-seven of the 78 bank executives have been detained so far on suspicion of membership in an armed terrorist organization and financing a terrorist organization.
Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement. According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links.

Fitch: Deposits in #Morocco Islamic Banks to Grow up to 10 %

According to Fitch Ratings, Islamic banking products in Morocco could expand their deposit bases by 5 to 10%. Fitch notes that the ability to grow the deposit base is positive for Morocco’s economic development because deposits represent about 70% of banking sector funding. The experts also noted that banking penetration is already high in Morocco, with 70% of adults holding a bank account. Therefore, participation banking is unlikely to take a significant market share from the well-established conventional banks. Growth rates in the Moroccan banking sector have been volatile in recent years, reflecting unsteady economic trends. Deposit growth has outstripped loan growth, but credit demand is set to accelerate. The ability to offer participation banking services could broaden the pool of potential depositors in the country, mitigating the competitive pressure.

Maybank Islamic named Asia-Pacific's Islamic Bank of the Year 2017

Maybank Islamic was named the Islamic Bank of the Year 2017 in Asia-Pacific by The Banker. The bank also received recognition in the country awards category for Malaysia. The Banker noted that Tier 1 capital and total Shariah-compliant assets enjoyed notable growth, climbing by 12% and 16%, respectively. Maybank Islamic’s return on equity for the year was 15.4%, while its cost-to-income ratio was a respectable 36% and non-performing financing were just 0.8%. The bank’s steady growth pace in Singapore and Indonesia also contributed to its recognition as the best in Asia-Pacific. Maybank Islamic's CEO Datuk Mohamed Rafique Merican attributed the bank’s achievements to its employees and sound risk management practices. He said the bank intends to further enhance its global brand visibility, while also deepening its existing regional presence.

#Brunei's largest bank aims to raise up $500 mln in #Malaysian #listing -IFR

Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam aims to raise as much as $500 million in an initial public offering (IPO) and the bank will be listed on the Malaysian bourse. JPMorgan and Malayan Banking (Maybank) are set to be joint global coordinators for the initial public offering of $200 million-$500 million this year. The IPO is expected to raise around $300 million but the final amount will depend on the size of the greenshoe option. Brunei is one of the world's richest countries on a per capital basis. The country does not have a stock exchange although its central bank last year announced draft rules to form one.

Maybank Islamic appoints Zainal Abidin as chairman

Maybank Islamic has announced the appointment of lawyer Zainal Abidin as its chairman. Zainal has been a director of Maybank Islamic since 2010 and previously served as chairman of Maybank Trustees. Prior to that, Zainal was a director of Malayan Banking (Maybank) from July 2009 to April 2014. Zainal, 63, is a practising corporate and commercial lawyer. As the founder and senior partner, Zainal established the firm Zainal Abidin in 1987.

TH confirms backing Badlisyah for Bank Islam, denies bad blood with board

Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) has confirmed its support of deputy CEO Datuk Badlisyah Abdul Ghani to lead Bank Islam Malaysia following the retirement of the bank’s group managing director, Datuk Seri Zukri Samat. TH has a 52.5% stake in BIMB Holdings which wholly owns Bank Islam. Bank Islam’s board had already put forward its choice, Khairul Kamarudin, to Bank Negara and the decision now lies with the central bank. TH CEO Datuk Seri Johan Abdullah confirmed recommending Badlisyah to be appointed to lead Bank Islam. He added that the choice of leadership and succession is subject to nomination of the board of directors and approval by Bank Negara Malaysia. He said TH was never at odds with the board of directors.

ICD Extends $5 Million Line of Finance Facility to Arab Gambian Islamic Bank

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and Arab Gambian Islamic Bank (Agib) have entered into a Joint Strategic Collaboration to finance the private sector in The Gambia. The financing agreement for the amount of USD5 million was signed by the CEO of ICD, Khaled Al Aboodi and Muhammed Jah, Chairman of Agib Bank. The collaboration will focus on developing the private sector, supporting the local economy and promoting Islamic Banking in the country. CEO of Agib Bank, Nuha Marenah, assured ICD of Agib Bank’s resolve to contribute to the socio-economic development of The Gambia. He also said Agib Bank has the capacity, both in terms of technology and human resources to manage the line of financing to the total satisfaction of all stakeholders.

5 Foreign Banks Licensed by #Iran

The Central Bank of Iran has released the names of 40 registered banks and credit institutions active in the country, which include the names of five foreign banks. The only five foreign lenders licensed to operate in Iran are the Hamburg-based Iranian-European Bank, Standard Chartered, Iran-Venezuela Bi-National Bank, Islamic Cooperation Investment Bank and Future Bank. The Iranian-European Bank has a German license, but is owned by the Iranian state. Standard Chartered is a British multinational banking company headquartered in London. It operates a network of more than 1,200 branches across more than 70 countries. Iran-Venezuela Bank a joint venture between Banco Industrial de Venezuela and the Export Development Bank of Iran. However, Iran is planning to sell some of its shares in IVBB, as the two countries currently have no commercial relations. The Islamic Cooperation Investment Bank is an Iraqi private lender, which currently has 11 branches in Iran. Future Bank is a fully commercial lender approved by the Central Bank of Bahrain, its branch in Iran is located in the Kish Free Trade Zone.

BRIEF-Al Izz Islamic Bank expresses interest in #merger with United Finance

Alizz Islamic Bank has expressed interest in the possibility of strategic merger with United Finance subject to conducting due diligence. No legally binding commitment has been made and the transaction remains subject to approval by the regulators and other stakeholders.

Sberbank of #Russia to expand capabilities in Islamic financial business

Sberbank received official certification for its Mudaraba Finance transaction from Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB). The bank also reaffirmed that it would remain fully committed to Sharia compliant financial activities for its customers. Sberbank, based in Moscow, currently has 16 thousand branches in all 83 constituent entities of the Russian Federation. It is the largest bank of Russia and the leading financial institution in the country. Yasser S. Dahlawi, CEO and Founder of SRB, noted that the Shariyah Review Bureau would continue to review and supervise Sberbank’s transaction and sharing best practices of the Sharia complaint marketplace.

#TA #Securities gets nod to #offer #Islamic #stockbroking #services

Bursa Malaysia Bhd has added TA Securities Holdings Bhd to its Islamic participating organisations list, making it the 11th stockbroking house and Islamic PO partnering with Bursa Malaysia-i. TA Enterprise Bhd managing director and chief executive officer Datin Alicia Tiah stated, that the inclusion will complement and broaden its product offerings.
Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan said in a statement: "We hope that with the support from our brokers, we will be able to provide a conducive marketplace for the Shariah investing community which will, in turn, continue to spur the growth and vibrancy of the Islamic capital market domestically and regionally.”

#Turkish Banking Team Plans #Iran Visit to Resolve Halkbank Dispute

A delegation from the Central Bank of Turkey will soon meet their Iranian counterparts in Tehran to remove hurdles in the way of bilateral banking relations. Particular difficulties include Iranian citizens' bank accounts in the Turkish Halkbank. The banking ties were overshadowed by the detention of a senior Halkbank official in the US in March for allegedly violating Iran sanctions. Mehmet Hakan Atilla was accused of conspiring with Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, to channel hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system on behalf of Iranian companies. Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci is also scheduled to visit Iran on June 21 to negotiate a preferential trade agreement between the two sides.

Bank Islam #Brunei said to choose #Malaysia for US$500mil IPO

Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam has picked Malaysia as the destination for a planned initial public offering (IPO) that could raise as much as US$500mil. The IPO would be the first from a company based in Brunei, an oil-rich country without its own stock exchange. First-time share sales in Malaysia raised US$833mil so far this year, up from US$235mil during the same period last year. Shareholders of Bank Islam include the Brunei finance ministry, the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation, private equity firm Fajr Capital and about 6,000 Bruneian investors. The lender had 7.5 billion Brunei dollars (US$5.4bil) of total group assets at the end of 2015. Its Tier 1 capital adequacy ratio was 23.3%.

Source: 

http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/05/31/bank-islam-brunei-said-to-choose-malaysia-for-us$500mil-ipo/

Bank Melli Iran Revamping European Branches

Bank Melli Iran (BMI) is planning to overhaul its European branches after clearing the procedures both inside the country and abroad. BMI's director for Foreign Exchange, Gholamreza Panahi, said the bank held negotiations with European officials to enhance its presence in the continent. He added that the bank's Najaf branch in Iraq is also ready to launch and expand the bank's network in East Asia. Panahi said BMI established correspondent relations with 25 foreign banks, which means connecting to a banking network that makes it possible to benefit from their wide range of services. The official also said BMI was the first Iranian bank to be reconnected to Swift, the international interbank messaging network, after the sanctions were lifted in January last year.

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