Islamic Banking

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Alternative to GCC Currency Union?

Chris Cook opined in an Asia Times Online feature as guest writer that the Gulf takes the wrong currency path, commenting on the announced creation of a GCC currency union along the lines of the Euro. He sees the alternative to the central banking model as a peer-to-peer "Gulf Clearing Union" similar to the Swiss Wirtschaftsring-Genossenschaft. WIR members are obliged to give security over their property by way of collateral, it is a monetary system that is "property-backed". The key innovation that will enable a Gulf Clearing Union is the simple expedient of creating - within a suitable legal framework - a "petro" unit redeemable in a constant amount of energy value. Settlement of credit would take place in petros, in goods or services by reference to the petro, or in dollars or other currency acceptable to the seller.

Chris Cook is a former director of the International Petroleum Exchange and is now a strategic market consultant, entrepreneur and commentator.

Swiss WIR bank concept: http://www.wir.ch/

Islamic Commodity Investments

Devon Maylie reported on 5 January in Barron`s magazine, that commodity-focused companies and hedge funds are introducing special products that comply with Islamic law, either equity based or as direct exposure to commodities. Ian MacDonald, executive director for gold and precious metals at Dubai Multi Commodities Center is cited to claim that there are not enough effort spent on Sharia compliant commodity products so far. The DMCC is seed financing with USD 50 mn each a range of commodity oriented equity funds managed by BlackRock Capital Management, Tocqueville Asset Management, Zweig-DiMenna International Managers and Lucas Capital Management on its platform in partnership with US based Shariah Capital. London-based ETF Securities last year launched an exchange-traded fund for precious metals that is being marketed to Sharia investors. The World Gold Council is also partnering with DMCC to launch a similar product in March.

New Islamic Bank in Djibouti

AllAfrica reported on 27 December 2008 about the openining of Salam African Bank collaborated by Somali and Djibouti businessmen and openend by Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh.

Mohamed Yusuf Ahmed Allore is said to be one of the managers.

Reuters: Japan investors interested in Islamic products

Reuters reported on 30 December that Japanese investors have expressed interest in developing Islamic capital market products, according to a local newspaper quoting Aseambankers Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Rashdan Mohammed Yusof. No company names were disclosed in the interview, however Aseambankers, the investment bankers of Maybank Group plans to develop the Sukuk market in Japan.

Uganda: Global Trust Bank to introduce Sharia banking

UGPulse.com reported on 18 December that Global Trust Bank considers to introduce Sharia banking. Global Trust Bank was recently created and has its headquarters in Nigeria.

Richard Byarugaba is the Managing Director and told journalists that the bank is going to carry out a survey in the Ugandan market to see whether Ugandans need and are ready for such a product of sharia banking.

Japan moves carefully toward Islamic finance

Manabu Hara reported on 12 December in Asahi Newspaper that the Japanese Government has taking a step more to introduce Islamic finance. Earlier this month, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) amended financial regulations to let bank subsidiaries handle Islamic finance operations. But still Murabaha transactions are subject to tax issues.

Islamic Microfinance

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Dar eyes UK Islamic banking unit

Arabian Business reported on 28 April that Investment Dar its proposed British bank unit 'Dar Capital' might start with capital of up to GBP 100 mn. A project study should be finished by year-end.

Chairman of Investment Dar is Adnan Al-Musallam.

Source: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/517695-dar-eyes-uk-bank-with-up-to-100-ml...

Al Khaliji bank in Qatar gets more active in Islamic finance

Pratap John in Gulf Times reported on 24 April that Al Khaliji bank will be concluding more Shariah-based transactions including co-arranging a Sukuk in Qatar after obtaining the Qatar Central Bank’s approval for an Islamic branch. The bank plans to open branches successively.

Al Khaliji chief executive officer is David Proctor.

Source: http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=214610...

Jordan Islamic Bank well rated and positioned

Arab News reported 28 April about Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB), being one of the oldest establishments along with Dubai Islamic Bank and Kuwait Finance House. Fitch Ratings end March 2008 assigned a 'BB-' foreign currency long-term issuer default rating (IDR) and a 'B' foreign currency short-term IDR to JIB with a long-term stable outlook.

JIB is a subsidiary of the Al-Baraka Banking Group (ABG), which is incorporated in Bahrain and is the restructured holding company of the financial services division of Jeddah-based Dallah Al-Baraka Group (DAG) headed by Saleh Kamel.

Musa Shihadeh is the general manager of JIB.

Source: http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093194499

Arab Bank lists funds on the Cayman Island Exchange

CPI Financial reported on 22 April that Arab Bank Fund Managers (Guernsey), a subsidiary of Arab Bank lists nine investment funds on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange. The IIAB Sukuk and Murabaha MENA Fund and the IIAB MENA Feeder Fund, are Shari’ah compliant funds and are both part of International Islamic Arab Bank Protected Cell Companies (IIAB PCC). The investment adviser for these funds is AB Invest in Jordan.

All of the funds are dollar denominated and open-ended, with monthly valuation and dealing.

The Guernsey administrator for all the funds is Legis Fund Services.

Source: http://www.cpifinancial.net/v2/News.aspx?v=1&aid=203&sec=Wealth%20Manage...

CIMB to expand Islamic banking in Middle East

The Star Malaysia reported on 22 April that CIMB group intends to expand its Islamic banking business in Dubai and Saudi Arabia via acquisitions.

The group via Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd recently acquired a 19.99% stake in China-based Bank of Yingkou Co Ltd.

CIMB group chief executive is Datuk Nazir Razak.

Source: http://biz.thestar.com.my/services/printerfriendly.asp?file=/2008/4/22/b...

Markaz completes structuring of Arbun Call Option

Kuwait Financial Centre 'Markaz' released on 23 April that they developed an Arbun contract, functioning similar to an American option. Kuwait Stock Exchange is trading conventional options since 2005.

The Arbun (downpayment with revocation option) can be both cash and physically settled at anytime on or before the maturity date. The product has been submitted to the Kuwait Stock Exchange for their review and approval.

Mr. Hussein Zeinnedin is Assistant Vice President - Derivatives at Kuwait Financial Centre 'Markaz'.

Source: http://www.ameinfo.com/154396.html

France to host meetings on ‘Islamic finance’

Arab Times reported that the French Senate,is organizing two round table discussions May 14 to examine the role France can play in attracting Islamic funds.

Senates Finance Commission president Jean Arthuis will preside the meeting and Zubeir Bin Terdeyet, Director of Isla Invest, Maya Boureghda, a legal counsellor at BNP Parisbas, Anwar Hassoune, vice-president of Moodys rating company, Vincent Lauwick, SGAM Asset Management, London, Jean Francois Pon from the Federation of French Banks and Gilles Saint Marc, a lawyer from AARPI.

Source: http://www.arabtimesonline.com/kuwaitnews/pagesdetails.asp?nid=16009&cci...

Gulf Islamic banks continue to outperform conventional peers

Darren Stubing reported on 27 April Gulf Islamic banks continue to grow at a strong pace in excess of conventional banks in the GCC countries.

Islamic financial institutions exceed the return on assets of their peers in the Gulf (3.6 % vs. 2.4 %) and the return on equity (24 % vs. 19 %), net profit grew 11 % compared to 5 %.

Banks with retail banking proved stronger and more conventional banks consider converting to Islamic bank status, such as the Commercial Bank in Kuwait, however, Islamic banks do required better economies of scale to drive down cost-income ratios, which can be achieved by cross-border expansion including M&A.

Source: http://www.business24-7.ae/articles/2008/4/pages/04272008_70eea8abe8c54a...

Moody's comments on Islamic finance

Forbes reported on 15 April about the Moody's study regarding Islamic finance claiming the industry grows at double rate compared to the conventional markets and becomes more international but also remains diverse and heterogene. Interpretation of rules and regulation vary widely, and they perceive a lack of technical and contractual standardisation.

Moody's expects the Sukuk market to become more complex, more structured, larger, more diversified and more liquid as it evolves over time.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/afx/2008/04/15/afx4891802.html

Bank AlJazira General Annual Meeting

Mohannad Sharaw, Saudi Gazette, reported on 18 April that Bank AlJazira increased the bank's capital from SAR 2.250 bn (255 mn equities) to SAR 3 bn (300 million equities), or a 33.3 percent increase and the the total number of shares of 27 stakeholders reached 142,201,320 mn, representing 63 % of the bank's 255 million equities. The SAR 750 mn hike will be deducted from the net profits account according to the SAMA regulations.

The 42nd general annual meeting of the bank was held at Jeddah Hilton led by Taha Bin Abdullah Al-Qwaiz, head of the board, along with Abdullah Saleh Kamel, Abdullah Al-Angari, Khalid Bin Omar Al- Baltan, Eng. Abdul Majid Al-Sultan, Khalifa Bin Abdul Latif Al-Mulhim, Mishari Bin Ibrahim Al- Mishari, and Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al-Mudbel.

The board likewise approved dividend of SR0.50 per each equity owned and registered at Tadawul by the end of the stock market session on Wednesday and the added profits on April 29.

Source: http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm/sidZAWYA20080418071404

JP Morgan eyes stake in Kuwait Finance House

Reuters reported on 20 April that JP Morgan eyes a stake in Kuwait Finance House quoting a local daily al-Anba based on an unsourced report. The local paper shall have said that the U.S. bank had applied to the central bank of Kuwait to approve a stake buy, adding it was unclear how large a stake it wanted to acquire.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/innovationNews/idUSL2066795520080420

Sharia compliant Ajman Bank holds founding general assembly meeting

Albawaba reported on 20 April that Ajman Bank PJSC it had held its Founding General Assembly meeting for shareholders of the company.
Convened on Wednesday 16 April, the shareholders approved all of the meeting’s resolutions including the completion of the incorporation of the Bank; the adoption of the Bank’s Memorandum and Articles of Association; the Founders’ report and the Pre IPO Auditing report.

Ajman Bank will be Ajman’s first commercial bank. Investors include the Government of Ajman and some of the UAE’s leading financial institutions and private individuals.

The Board of Directors comprises:

HH Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Chairman
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Vice Chairman
HH Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Member
Dr Ali Rashid Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Member
Mr Ali bin Abdullah Al Hamrani, Member
Mr Yousef Ali Fadil Bin Fadil, Member
Mr Salem Rashid Al Khadar, Member

The Fatwa and Shariah Board comprises:

Dr Husain Hamid Hassan, Sheikh Mohammed Abdulrazaq Al Siddiq,
Dr Jassim Ali Al Shamsi

Yousif Khalaf, the CEO of Ajman Bank and former CEO of Bahrain Islamic Bank and Ithmaar Bank.

Dubai Islamic Bank and DIC in talks to open bank in Jordan

Business 24/7 reported on 16 April that Dubai International Capital (DIC) talks with Dubai Islamic Bank about setting up a Shariah-compliant Islamic bank in Jordan.

Sameer Al Ansari heads Dubai International Capital. DIC manages a $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) fund investing in Jordan.

Source: http://www.business24-7.ae/cs/article_show_mainh1_story.aspx?HeadlineID=...

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