UK

London has potential to take leading position in Islamic insurance sector

Speaking at a conference about UK’s general insurance in London, Max Taylor, chairman of the Islamic Insurance Association of London, said that the success of the takaful model relied on the participation of policy holders as the actions of one have an affect on all policy holders. There have been many attempts to establish takaful insurance operations in the UK in the past, but he said projects failed because of issues with capitalisation, underwriting approaches, and investment strategies under Shariah principles. He added that, internationally, takaful models had been successful in personal lines, but the vast majority of operators of such models were “small” and “risk averse”.

Bank of England joins IFSB Islamic finance body

The Bank of England has joined the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), the second Western regulator to do so after Luxembourg. The BoE joins as an associate member, the 65th regulatory body to join the Kuala Lumpur-based body, bringing total membership to 189, the IFSB said in a statement. The move comes at a key time for Britain’s domestic Islamic banks, as the BoE works to grow the number of sharia-compliant assets they can use in their liquidity buffers, with progress expected by the turn of the year. The IFSB has also admitted the central bank of Kyrgyzstan and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan as observer members.

Tadhamon success

Bahrain-based Tadhamon Capital announced the successful exit from its investment in Coxlease School in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, UK. The school is a specialist residential education facility for children with severe behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. It is let to Priory Group for a 30-year period with annual rent reviews linked to the retail price index. Acquired in November 2010, the school was Tadhamon’s seed investment in its Social Infrastructure Investment Platform in the UK. The platform currently holds assets valued at more than $523 million across segments. Over the five-year investment period, a minimum annual cash dividend of nine per cent was achieved.

Sovereign wealth fund pullback pull-back hits Aberdeen Asset Management

The collapse in the price of oil has compounded the problems for Aberdeen Asset Management, with Europe’s third-largest listed fund house reporting its 10th consecutive quarter of net fund outflows. The Scottish-based asset manager has been battling with investor nervousness over the continued turmoil in its core regions, but net redemptions have been exacerbated by oil-producing countries pulling money from their wealth funds to make up for a loss of export earnings. Aberdeen suffered net outflows of almost £13bn during the three months to the end of September. So far this year, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency — the world’s third-largest sovereign fund with $661bn invested — has withdrawn about $70bn from external asset managers to support its economy.

European Islamic Investment Bank Changes Name To Rasmala

European Islamic Investment Bank PLC on Friday said it has changed its name to Rasmala PLC, effective immediately. The company said it would make a further announcement on the subject before the end of the year.

Cooperation vital to grow Islamic insurance sector

The Chairman of the Islamic Insurance Association of London (IIAL) has told delegates at its inaugural conference that cooperation will be vital if growth in the Islamic insurance sector is to be achieved.
Max Taylor said the London market was ready willing and able to work with local markets to drive the expertise and growth in Islamic commercial insurance products to meet the growing demand from the business community.
“We have long believed that to enhance the market and deliver change in the Islamic insurance sector there is a real need for greater expertise and knowledge and this is where the London market can play a leading role,” Taylor said.
“The UK government has been quite clear that it wants to create a global centre of excellence for Islamic financial services in London.”
However, while both the London market and the Islamic underwriting community had the same aims of driving growth and professionalism in the sector it could not be achieved in isolation.

QInvest net profit up 69 percent in third quarter

QInvest, Qatar’s leading investment group and one of the most prominent Islamic financial institutions globally, yesterday announced that its net profit for the third quarter grew 69 % to $33.8m while revenues jumped 37 % to $78.7m.

“We are very encouraged by our performance during the third quarter of 2015. With our commitment to drive growth and innovation across the business, we have continued to source new opportunities, strengthen our brand and deliver positive returns. Whilst we expect on-going market volatility and economic challenges to remain present, we are confident on the outlook for the business. We have an exciting active pipeline of deal flow and a unique market position to leverage investment opportunities across the GCC region and selected markets in Europe, Asia and the US” said Tamim Hamad Al Kawari, CEO of QInvest.

QInvest net profit up 69 % in third quarter

QInvest, Qatar’s leading investment group and one of the most prominent Islamic financial institutions globally, yesterday announced that its net profit for the third quarter grew 69 % to $33.8m while revenues jumped 37 % to $78.7m.

“We are very encouraged by our performance during the third quarter of 2015. With our commitment to drive growth and innovation across the business, we have continued to source new opportunities, strengthen our brand and deliver positive returns. Whilst we expect on-going market volatility and economic challenges to remain present, we are confident on the outlook for the business. We have an exciting active pipeline of deal flow and a unique market position to leverage investment opportunities across the GCC region and selected markets in Europe, Asia and the US” said Tamim Hamad Al Kawari, CEO of QInvest.

EIIB-Rasmala expands real estate investment business, acquires property in UK

European Islamic Investment Bank plc (EIIB-Rasmala) has announced the expansion of its real estate business. Simultaneously, the Group has also announced the acquisition of a commercial office building for GBP 11.8 million ($17.9 million, AED 65.9 million), located on the Doxford International Business Park. The real estate division will focus on identifying high quality, income generating opportunities in the UK, Europe and the United States. The primary focus will be on the UK. The Group expects to invest approximately $1.5 billion in a broad mix of real estate transactions over the next three years, with $750 million being allocated for investments in the UK.

Interview: Richard Bishop: Complex and compliant

Cobalt Underwriting founder Richard Bishop has talked about why he launched London's first Islamic insurance managing general agent – and why London needs to stay relevant. It was back in 2007, when Richard Bishop was working in general broking, that a chance conversation with a Muslim cleric sewed the seed of a business idea that would grow to become the London market’s first Islamic insurance managing general agent.

Al Rayan Bank commits to Birmingham

Al Rayan Bank is renewing its commitment to Birmingham as it gets set to relocate to a new head office in Edgbaston. The bank has purchased offices in Calthorpe Road and will move 100 of its employees from its current leased offices later this month. In February 2014, Al Rayan Bank was acquired by Masraf Al Rayan, the second largest Islamic bank in Qatar by market value. A rebrand followed before the bank posted its financial performance. In 2014, the bank’s operating income increased by 168%, customer financing increased by 86% and retail deposits increased by 59%. The bank also transformed a £5.5m loss in 2013 to an after tax profit of £1.2m.

Islamic bank focuses on advisers

Al Rayan Bank has boosted its staff in order to expand its mortgage business through mortgage advisers. It comes as the bank appointed Saalik Haleem as intermediary specialist. Mr Haleem, who is based at the bank’s operational headquarters, has been tasked with boosting the 13 per cent intermediary share of the bank’s mortgage business and creating new relationships with mortgage advisers across the UK. He has worked in Islamic finance for several years, specialising in the areas of advisory and Islamic investments, specifically Sharia-complaint Oeic/unit trusts.

LCP launches UK's only Sharia-compliant fund

The London Stock Exchange already boasts 53 Sukuk issues, raising more than $38bn. It has a mounting presence in Sharia-compliant Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) too, with seven available based on Islamic indices. In addition, Takaful has reached a new high in the UK, with premiums estimated to have reached $30bn in 2012. However, since the launch of the Sovereign Sukuk, there has been a general hush around the subject, with the Government not considering another one in the near future. While investors will find a number of other commercial funds to take its place, curiously, there remain few opportunities to invest in Sharia-compliant residential funds. That gap in the market has been seized by the residential funds and asset manager, London Central Portfolio (LCP).

Al Rayan Bank finds business agility in cloud applications

Matthew Glover, head of IT and change delivery at Al Rayan Bank, says its use of cloud amounts to a competitive advantage against big banks, and its customer base of 60,000 gives it an edge against challenger banks which are similarly unburdened by legacy. Being an Islamic bank makes Al Rayan’s business different, too. Glover is not himself Muslim, and neither are many of its customers, he says. He heads a team of 14 IT and business professionals. The IT estate is a mix of on-premise and cloud. Apart from the core banking system, which is a Misys platform running on an IBM AS/400, Salesforce is the most important part of the bank’s technology landscape.

Gatehouse completes £8.6 million financing of UK petrol station portfolio

Gatehouse Bank plc has announced the completion of an £8.6 million senior financing to support Investra's acquisition of a portfolio of five petrol stations in the UK. Based in Dubai and with an office in London, Investra is an investor of UK real estate. This transaction is the second financing which Gatehouse has completed in partnership with an equity sponsor based in the GCC region in the past six months. Investra is looking to increase our holdings of high-quality income generating assets. Henry Thompson, CEO of Gatehouse, said he was looking forward to announcing further transactions in the coming months.

Ethical Finance Experts to tackle question: Can Islamic Finance Governance Structures be used to Protect Reputation of Global Ethical Banking?

The Global Ethical Finance Forum (GEFF 2015) will serve as a platform for historic discussions on what Islamic financial governance can help address ethical lapses in the ethical finance industry. GEFF 2015 will take place on the 1 and 2 of September in Edinburgh. Experts from organizations such as the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), Al Rayan Bank, HSBC Amanah Malaysia, European Islamic Investment Bank (EIIB-Rasmala) and Ernst & Young will engage fellow ethical finance leaders as part of GEFF's mandate to bridge the disconnect between Islamic finance and the rest of the ethical finance universe. During the panel discussions, experts will review the established regulatory infrastructure in Islamic finance. Find more information at www.geff2015.com.

CBI governor: Iran to set up two new banks in London

Iran has four banks in Britain and will set up two new banks in London in near future, Governor of Central Bank of Iran Valiollah Seif said on Sunday. He made the remarks on the sidelines of a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Speaking to IRNA, he said the two banks to be set up are the London branch of bank Melli of Iran and Persian International Bank. In the meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and his entourage, the two sides studied grounds for expansion of cooperation and the history of banking cooperation as well as existing grounds for expansion of such cooperation, he said. UK delegation voiced their willingness of the British banks to come back and resume operation in Iran, he said.

2015 IREF Summit: Global Real Estate Investment Opportunities

ICG-Events is organising its annual IREF Summit which is now in its 11th year. The event is scheduled to take place on the 1st-2nd of December 2015 in London. On the evening of the 1st of December, ICG will also be hosting the IREF Summit Awards of Excellence which will take place at the event's Gala Dinner. The IREF Summit prides itself on being industry led and industry focused and over the years has established itself as the foremost gathering based on its ability to bring together the leading industry experts and institutions to explore the key issues impacting the sector and its future development. For further information on the Summit please visit www.irefsummit.co.uk or contact info@icg-events.com

Cameron woos Muslim investors with sharia-compliant opportunities

Muslim investors have been urged to pour money into major British construction projects as David Cameron revealed a catalogue of sharia-compliant opportunities. UK Trade and Investment has produced a "pitch book" containing details of 18 projects which comply with the strict conditions of Islamic law. A total of £17 billion of projects are included in the document, with schemes including a transport upgrade project in Leeds, the regeneration of Slough town centre and housing developments in Manchester. At a lavish reception in Kuala Lumpur, Mr Cameron set out his vision of making the UK a centre for Islamic finance.

UK regeneration projects: Investing using Islamic Finance

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), a Government Department which helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy, has released a brochure which contains Sharia compliant UK regeneration investment opportunities in the UK. The Regeneration Investment Organisation (RIO) has identified projects at a point of development where project and finance structure can be discussed with project promoters. These projects are listed in the brochure in their totality: some parts may not be Sharia-compliant. Meanwhile, Islamic finance investors are taking a keen interest in UK real estate by funding a number of high profile projects.

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