UK

The Sharia-run Government buildings where alcohol is BANNED thanks to Islamic finance deal

The central London offices must be run in line with Islamic principles because of a deal with rich Middle Eastern investors. They demanded the buildings be audited by Muslim scholars and subject to special rules in exchange for lending the Government £200million. The deal currently only covers three buildings - Richmond House, Wellington House and a property on Whitehall - and is almost unheard of outside of the Middle East. But Treasury officials hope hundreds of Western companies will follow their lead and turn over buildings to Islamic financiers in similar deals. The exact restrictions under which the buildings must be run which were not spelled out in the text of the deal struck with overseas investors.

Ibdar makes £8 million investment in prime new Manchester city centre development

Bahrain-based Ibdar Bank has announced that it has made a £8 million investment in a prime new residential project. Angel Gardens, consisting of residential 458-apartments and a total development value of £124 million, forms part of the wider NOMA re-development project aimed at transforming Manchester city centre. The development is being funded through a combination of equity invested by Ibdar and other co-investors and senior debt to be obtained from one of the Banks. Forecasts indicate an expected income return through operations starting at 9.1% on stabilized income, rising to 10.8% per annum after three years of stabilised operations and a targeted IRR of +15% over a five year investment period.

Will my Sharia-compliant savings be tax-free from April?

Fixed term deposit accounts, which pay an “expected profit rate” instead of interest, beat the best fixed rate bonds when it comes to earnings. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) confirmed that profits from Sharia accounts would count towards the personal savings allowance. Where returns are the economic equivalent of interest (and meet certain other criteria) they are taxed as if they are interest - and will be included within the definition of savings income, according to HMRC. This means Sharia compliant savers will be able to take advantage of the new £1,000 tax free interest earnings allowance if they are a basic rate taxpayer (£500 for higher rate taxpayers).

Armour Group Invests in Cobalt, Shariah Compliant Re/Insurance Provider

London-based Cobalt Insurance Holdings Ltd. has announced a strategic investment by Armour Group Holdings Ltd., the Bermuda-based diversified insurance group. Financial considerations were not disclosed. The strategy of Armour focuses on niche operations in the re/insurance and asset management sectors. Armour’s operations include underwriting operations, re/insurance companies, asset management companies and specialist service companies. The investment coincides with additions to the board of Cobalt of former Lloyd’s Chairman Max Taylor as chairman, and Sean Dalton of Armour as a non-executive director. John Turner, chairman of Aon Risk Solutions (UK & Americas), and former Brit Insurance Group CFO Andrew Baddeley also join the board in non-executive capacities.

City of London launches new Green Finance Initiative as it bids to cement position as climate finance capital

The City of London yesterday launched a new initiative which aims to cement London's position as a world leader in green finance. The Green Finance Initiative (GFI) will focus on how to mobilize the capital required to implement both the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate change agreement. The unveiling of the new project came as a separate report released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) at the GFI launch event highlighted how the UK is currently a global hub in the emerging green finance market. The report, which profiles the actions that have been taken over the past 15 years to incorporate environmental and social factors into the financial sector, argues the UK has evolved a distinctive model of innovation in sustainable finance.

Gulf clients look to Al Rayan Bank for long-term ‘safe’ UK property investments

Keith Leach, chief commercial officer (CCO), Al Rayan Bank, has an answer to the question if the new UK stamp duty charges announced in the autumn budget have a negative impact on foreign investment into property. His answer showed that potential investors are looking at the big, global picture. The tax changes — what might be on the horizon — wasn’t figuring in their thought processes. What was in their thoughts was the political and economic instability in the region, he explained. With regard to the impact of the 3% hike across all bands of stamp duty on buy-to-let landlords in the UK, Leach said it could lead to landlords faced with higher charges raising rents, or abandoning the buy-to-let market with a consequent reduction in availability of rental properties.

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.

Syndicate content