Financial Institutions

#Iran, #Venezuela launch joint development bank

Iran and Venezuela inaugurated a joint bank to finance their development projects. The opening ceremony took place in Tehran during a visit by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The Tehran based Iran-Venezuela Joint Bank has an initial capital base of 200 million dollars, with each nation providing half of the funds. The Export Development Bank of Iran, which is under sanctions from the US Treasury, was tasked with creating the joint bank. The joint bank will work within Iran’s banking regulations and its activities will be overseen by the Islamic republic’s Central Bank. The board of directors comprises four Iranians and four Venezuelans. A joint investment fund will also be launched in Venezuela.

Unicorn invests further Rs1bn in Dawood Islamic Bank

Dawood Islamic Bank Limited (DIBL) has received Rs1 billion (US$12.9 million) investment from Bahrain-based Unicorn Investment Bank Limited. Unicorn already had a 22.2% equity stake in DIBL prior to the current investment. Unicorn Managing Director Aamir Khan said that the decision to invest in Dawood Islamic Bank is based on excellent opportunities that are available in the Islamic banking sector of Pakistan. DIBL Chairman Rafique Dawood said the investment by Unicorn would further boost the bank's ability to provide support to trade and industry through its various Riba-free banking products. DIBL has a network of 21 branches spread over the major cities of Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Multan, Sialkot, Iqbalabad and Joharabad.

Diverse, ethical banking draws global interest

The assets in #Bahrain’s Islamic banking sector have risen from $1.9 billion in 2000 to $25.1 billion in 2015 and account for around 13% of the kingdom’s total banking assets. According to Director & Group CEO of Al Salam Bank-Bahrain, Yousif Abdulla Taqi, the bank is particularly appealing to a growing number of international clients. Investors are attracted to Islamic finance products for various reasons such as: diversification, ethical investments and asset-based investments. Al Salam Bank-Bahrain (ASBB) has a 6% market share of total Bahraini bank financing. The bank recently signed an agreement with Eagle Hills Diyar and Diyar Al Muharraq to set up an escrow account for the real estate development projects in the kingdom.

Bank Asya payments being made through Vakif Participation Bank

In #Turkey the insured participation funds at the Bank Asya are being paid to the rights holders through the state-owned Vakif Participation Bank. On May 29, 2015, the Banking Supervisory and Regulatory Authority (BDDK) ruled for a complete takeover by the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) of all Bank Asya shares. According to yesterday's announcement, up to TL 100,000 ($28,247) of the total of insured participation funds at the Asya Participation Bank have been paid to the right holders in Turkish liras. The banks operating permit has been abolished. It was put on sale by the Fund Board, but did not receive any offers despite the extension of the bidding period.

Sharia bank First Community lays off third of its employees

In #Kenya the Sharia-compliant lender First Community Bank (FCB) has laid off a third of its workforce as effects of the recent capping of interest rates continue to shake the banking industry. The lender’s staff costs stood at Sh241.4 million as at June 2016 which rose to Sh365.2 million at the end of September, prompting action by the bank’s management. The bank, which received a regulatory approval in May 2007 to start Sharia-compliant banking, last week reported a 16.2% jump in quarter-three net profit to Sh74.4 million. FCB is one of four banks that recently announced staff cuts as a reaction to the biting interest regulations on loans and deposits. The other three banks are Sidian Bank, Family Bank and Ecobank.

JAIZ wins three awards at Global Islamic Microfinance Forum

Nigeria-based Jaiz International Bank has won three awards at the 6th Global Islamic Microfinance Forum (GIMF) organised by Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics in Nairobi, Kenya. The organisation and its associated institutions, Jaiz Charity and Development Foundation, Jaiz Takaful Insurance, Jaiz Zakat and Waqf Trust Fund won the awards. The awards are Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed on the Chairman of Jaiz Foundation, Alhaji Umar Abdul-Mutallab, CON; Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award to Ambassador Adamu Babangida Ibrahim, Director General/CEO, Jaiz Charity and Development Foundation and The Best Rising Islamic Microfinance Personality Award was awarded to the Managing Director of Jaiz Takaful Insurance, Mr. Momodou Musa Joof.

ADIB #Egypt appoints new acting CEO

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Egypt announced its board of directors has appointed Fareed Farouk Al Bilbisi as acting chairman, and Zuhair Hamada Idris as acting chief executive officer of the bank. The statement comes after the death of ADIB Egypt’s chief executive officer, Nevine Lotfy, who was found murdered in her home on Tuesday. Lotfy, whose murder is currently being investigated, became managing director and CEO of ADIB Egypt in 2008.

US Senator refutes fake press release targeting Kuveyt-Turk bank

An unknown group of people have purposefully leaked new allegations surrounding the Turkey-based bank Kuveyt-Turk. A press release published on Nov. 19 claimed that US Senator Dick Durbin would hold hearings to investigate two key banking institutions in Kuwait and whether they helped fund terrorism. The press release read that Durbin would target Kuwait Finance House and its subsidiary in Turkey, the Kuveyt-Turk participation bank. A spokesman at Senator Durbin's office flatly denied the report and said it was completely false. The fake report has surfaced amidst an ongoing court case in California against the two banks on the terror funding charges. Kuveyt-Turk's lawyers dismissed the charges by saying the allegations have no merit because banks are not responsible for the allegations. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the allegations over Kuveyt-Turk and Kuwait Finance House were proof of Western double standards.

Government incentives boost Islamic banks

#Pakistan's Islamic banks are introducing new products and adjusting policies to take advantage of government incentives designed to boost growth in the industry. Shariah-compliant banks in the country held 11.4% of total banking assets in June, which is well below levels of around 25% seen in Gulf Arab states. To change this, the government introduced a 2% tax rebate for shariah-compliant manufacturing firms in July to encourage them to eliminate interest-bearing debt from their balance sheets. Abdullah Ghaffar, head of investment banking at Al Baraka Bank Pakistan, said he detected signs of an increase in demand for Islamic financing. According to Syed Abubakr, sharia board member of Emaan Islamic Banking, there is some demand for new products from conventional banks planning to convert their operations into fully-fledged Islamic banks.

Panel okays Sharia banks

The #Philippines' House committee on banks and financial intermediaries has approved the measures that would pave the way for the expansion of Islamic banking in the country. The new House Bill amends the Philippine’s lone Islamic bank, the Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank to regulate and organize an expanded Islamic banking system in the Philippines. Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said the enactment of the measure was very timely as this would help the country’ growth inclusive and sustainable. The consolidated proposal will make the Al-Amanah independent from the Development Bank of the Philippines, be a universal bank with initial paid up capitalization of P10 billion and will be the first in the country to fully engage in Islamic banking that can issue sukuk.

#Iran establishes correspondent relations with foreign banks

Iran has established correspondent relationships with 230 foreign banks since January 16, following the implementation of the nuclear deal. In addition, Iran's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance reported that the Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI) has begun brokerage relations with numerous banks around the world. This includes 64 banks in 20 European countries, 36 banks in 17 Asian states, four banks in Africa as well as one bank in Latin America. However, the Islamic Republic complains that it still does not have access to global financial markets. Many international banks still shy away from financing trade deals and processing transactions for fear of US penalties.

#Egyptian CEO of Abu Dhabi Islamic bank found murdered in Cairo home

The CEO of the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Nevine Loutfy was found murdered at her home in Cairo. An investigation and forensic team arrived at the murder scene shortly after the incident. With over three decades of banking experience, Loutfy had a diverse background and had worked across the corporate, SME and retail sectors. She had extensive international experience gained in the US, Europe and emerging markets. Nevine Loutfy was the first ever female head of an Islamic bank.

QIIB expects to receive licence for Moroccan JV before year-end: CEO

#Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) expects to secure the licence from the Moroccan authorities for its joint-venture bank in the kingdom before the year-end. CEO Abdulbasit A. al-Shaibei said QIIB firmly believed that Morocco presented a 'good opportunity' for the bank, being a gateway to North Africa, which is in need of Shariah-based, value-driven banking. He said QIIB and its partners in Morocco have identified the branches and installed the IT systems. While there are opportunities, al-Shaibei said any new market would pose some challenges. In terms of overseas ventures, QIIB will now be focused only on Morocco. Al-Shaibei said 2016 was a challenging year not just in the Middle East, but everywhere. However, he said he remained very optimistic about the Qatari economy and the future opportunities of the country.

#Shares in Abu Dhabi banks suspended after merger speculation

Trading of shares in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union National Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank were suspended on Sunday. The shares jumped last week because of renewed speculation that the Abu Dhabi government might engineer a merger between ADCB and UNB, and another between ADIB and Al Hilal Bank. Both moves would be part of an efficiency drive. There was no immediate official statement from the banks, but banking industry sources said the banks were expected to send statements denying that they had plans to merge.

Talal Al Zain to head new Islamic investment bank in Abu Dhabi

The newly formed Islamic investment bank ADCorp has named Talal Al Zain as its chief executive. Its two main shareholders, Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) and GFH Financial, said the new company has an authorised capital of US$100 million and will be the first Sharia-compliant institution in Abu Dhabi Global Market. Mr Al Zain, formerly chief executive of PineBridge Investments Middle East, said that ADCorp would focus on corporate finance, wealth and asset management for institutions and ultra high net worth ­clients. He said that geographically the firm’s investment strategy will allow ADCorp to become the long-term business partner of choice for clients in the region.

Sharia banks' assets reach Rp331 trillion

The total assets of the #Indonesian sharia banking industry in the third quarter of 2016 reached Rp331 trillion, accounting for 5.13% of the national banking industrys assets. Lukdir Gultom, Chief of the Indonesian Financial Service Authority (OJK), said the actual figure outstrips the target set by the OJK at 5%. He added that the OJK continued to encourage the sharia compliant financial service industry covering banks, non-bank financial institutions and the capital market. To date, Indonesia has a total of 13 sharia commercial banks, 21 sharia business units, and 165 sharia rural banks. The OJK will try to increase their number. Having a Muslim majority population, North Sumatra has the potential to become a hub for the Indonesian sharia banking industry.

GCC banks looking to Africa for new opportunities: EY

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 closes AED850 Million syndicated Islamic Financing Facility for Ajman Bank

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.

SC Saadiq expands Islamic financial product beyond core markets

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.

Dagong and IIRA maintain the ratings of Al Baraka Banking Group

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.

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