The government of Indonesia plans to sell another series of sharia-compliant government retail bonds (Sukri). The offering period is planned for 4 February-2 March 2017. In last year's Sukri issuance the Indonesian government set an indicative target of IDR 30 trillion (approx. USD $2.2 billion) for its SR-008 series. However, due to robust demand authorities raised a total of IDR 31 trillion. The three year SR-008 bonds carry a fixed coupon of 8.3% per year. It was the government's biggest ever sale of Sukri bonds. In 2017 the Indonesian government plans to sell IDR 597 trillion worth of bonds, mostly rupiah-denominated government bonds. Robert Pakpahan, Head of the Debt Office within Indonesia's Finance Ministry, earlier said Indonesia will offer retail bonds twice this year, consisting of Sukri and Indonesian Retail Government Bonds.
Al Rayan Bank has revealed that applications for two of its home finance plans reached an all-time high in 2016, as demand for Islamic finance soared. Both the bank’s home purchase and buy-to-let purchase plans received a record number of eligible enquiries last year. This surge follows a 9% rise in applications to the bank in 2016, marking a 99% increase over the past five years. Keith Leach, chief commercial officer at Al Rayan, said there was still substantial room for growth in the market and the bank expects demand to continue to rise in the coming years. Al Rayan estimates that 94% of its fixed-term deposit customers who joined last year are not of the Muslim faith. The announcement comes just weeks after Al Rayan launched a Sharia-compliant buy-to-let range in Scotland.
The Canadian fintech company Goldmoney has certified its gold-based financial products as sharia-compliant. The move illustrates how fintechs are broadening their footprint to include the core markets for Islamic finance in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Goldmoney provides financial products that are fully-backed by reserved gold. Goldmoney says it has more than 1.3 million users across 150 countries and administers $1.7 billion in client assets. Several other fintech ventures were launched in 2016. In February, a group of six Islamic lenders launched an internet-based investment platform to serve as a central marketplace to finance small and medium-sized businesses. Malaysia-based HelloGold has also launched a sharia-compliant online platform that uses blockchain. HelloGold is currently rolling out its product in Malaysia with plans to enter Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand later this year, and China by 2019.
Before handing over his charge to present Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel, former Governor Raghuram Rajan had proposed working with the Government to introduce Islamic Banking. Most recently, Union Finance Ministry said that Islamic banking was not relevant any more as the Government has already introduced several programmes for all citizens towards financial inclusion. Finance Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said various legal changes are needed if even limited products were to be introduced under Islamic banking. It is estimated that 180 million Muslims in India are unable to access Islamic banking because of non-availability of interest free banking. RBI in its report had said it would explore to introduce interest-free banking products in consultation with the government, but before the consultation could be held, the Government of India derailed this whole process.
Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a pan-African development finance institution, has issued its maiden Sukuk as the first Sukuk to be issued by an African supranational entity. The initial target of US$100 million was more than twice oversubscribed, resulting in the transaction being upsized to US$150 million and a final order book of approximately US$230 million. The privately placed Murabaha Sukuk has a three year tenor and will mature on 24 January 2020. Emirates NBD Capital, MUFG and RMB acted as Joint Bookrunners and Joint Lead Managers with Emirates NBD Capital also acting as the Sole Global Coordinator. Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC, said this Sukuk represents a milestone for AFC and helps to diversify its portfolio to continue delivering real impact across the continent.
Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to collaborate in areas related to endowment services enhancing the prosperity of Muslim societies. Tayeb Al-Rais, Secretary General of AMAF, and Dr Bandar Al Hajjar, Chairman and President of IDB, signed the MoU in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The two parties will work towards maximising the availability of Islamic banking services to the endowment sector. AMAF and IDB will also explore the possibilities of forging endowment partnerships and engaging third parties. Other areas of cooperation include building successful marketing strategies and providing advanced endowment tools for banking, finance, and investment.
The Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance (CEIF) IBA held an International Forum on 'Unlocking Islamic Finance Potential in CPEC and Beyond'. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consists of $45 billion worth of domestic infrastructure projects planned by the government of Pakistan. The Forum analyzed the effects and impact of CPEC on the Islamic Finance industry in Pakistan. In his keynote address Irfan Siddiqui, President & CEO Meezan Bank, highlighted that CPEC is not just a need of China but also of Pakistan. From the government Chief Economist Nadeem Javaid stated that there are four main components of CPEC: Energy, Infrastructure Development, Economic Incentives and Industrial Cooperation. He said that CPEC will greatly lower the per unit cost of energy, incentives such as exemption from local duties and materials, whereas suspension of trade union activities will give opportunities to investors. Therefore, designing cost-effective, Shariah compliant finance options is the need of the hour.
Goldmoney announced that Goldmoney Network Accounts and Wealth Holdings have been endorsed as Shariah-compliant by the Shariah Supervisory Board of Amanie Advisors. Islamic investors can now instantly purchase, save, and transact in gold globally on the Goldmoney platform. Goldmoney's chief strategy officer Josh Crumb said that the company's platform democratizes access to 100% reserved and allocated gold-based savings, payments, and investment solutions. CEO Roy Sebag stated that compliance with Shariah law was an important step in the company's growth, enabling Goldmoney to expand its offerings to the Islamic market.
Summit will explore intersection of #fintech, #ESG and #Islamicfinance. #RFISummit17
January 24, 2017, Zurich, Switzerland –
Bringing together a diversity of perspectives is critical for continuing the growth occurring within responsible finance. On this premise, the Responsible Finance & Investment Summit 2017 will convene in Zurich, Switzerland from 3-4 May 2017 around the theme “Building Bridges, Expanding Impact”.
Recent estimates from industry stakeholders show continued growth in responsible finance assets in many geographies and sectors. Responsible investment in Europe grew by 42% during the past 2 years, while in the U.S., assets grew by 33%. In Islamic finance, which has a global presence with a significant presence in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, growth in the last 2 years has been 21%. Identifying actionable areas for collaboration will support continued growth towards a more sustainable financial system.
The share of sukuk issuance in core markets such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan are expected to keep up their market share in 2017. New sukuk issuance from the core markets rose to $40 billion (Dh147 billion) in 2016 from about $32 billion a year earlier. This represented 28.5% of total bond and sukuk issuance in these markets in 2016, down marginally from 29% in 2015. Malaysian companies continue to be the most active corporate issuers. Several other key markets have introduced or updated sukuk laws in the past few years, including Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait, which should gradually boost issuance. According to Faisal Hasan, Head of Investment Research at Kamco, the outlook for sukuk issuance in 2017 remains positive as GCC economies are expected to return to issuing sukuks to fund their deficits. Analysts say GCC corporates that tap capital markets are more likely to issue sukuk or a mixture of both, rather than only bonds to attract a wider local and regional investor base.
Fitch Ratings said it expects sukuk issuance in 2017 to continue at the same pace like last year. Sukuk issuance in core markets rose by 26% in 2016 and maintained its share of capital markets funding despite large conventional bond issues by Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. New sukuk issuance with a maturity over 18 months from the core markets of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan rose to $40 billion in 2016 from about $32 billion a year earlier. In 2016 10 key markets issued sovereign sukuk and other sovereigns in the GCC region have indicated they could issue sukuk, or a mix, in the future. Sovereigns and supranationals are likely to remain the dominant issuers, but bank issuance may also rise in some markets, driven by issuance to meet regulatory capital requirements.
Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) is negotiating with banks an extension of up to two years on a 10 billion riyal ($2.7 billion) Islamic credit facility used to pay for building work at the kingdom’s Grand Mosque in Mecca. Contractors in Saudi Arabia have had to deal with delays and late payment after the government trimmed spending to adjust to the impact of lower oil prices. Mecca’s mayor Osama bin Fadl Al-Bar told Reuters in September that the expansion would be completed in either 2017 or 2018. But the timeline for the mosque has now been delayed. SBG had received some of the backlog of payment owed to it by the government in recent months, but a large portion remains outstanding.
Nogaholding, the investment arm of Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA), has approached banks with the aim of setting up an international bond programme. The bond programme could be either for conventional bonds or for sukuk, but since Nogaholding’s latest U.S. dollar fund-raising exercise was an Islamic loan, a sukuk programme seemed more likely. A spokeswoman for Nogaholding declined to comment. In March last year, the company raised a $570 million murabaha facility with a five-year maturity. The 2016 loan backed projects such as the Bahrain LNG Import Terminal, a modernisation programme for Bahrain Petroleum, and expansion of facilities at the Bahrain National Gas Expansion.
The planned China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, is expected to bring the full potential of Islamic finance in infrastructure funding into action. The CPEC will see €54bn in investments up to 2030 to create or expand highways, railways, ports, airports, power plants, solar parks and wind farms, pipelines and optical fibre lines. Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has repeatedly emphasised that Pakistan wanted to make Shariah-compliant financing its first choice for infrastructure and long-term financing needs. In fact, the government plans to shift between 20% and 40% of its debt financing to Islamic sources from conventional ones, which is also the case for CPEC projects. Co-financing for the corridor comes from Chinese state loans, as well as from the Asian Development Bank and the new, China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The CPEC is predicted to create more than 700,000 direct jobs up to 2030 and add two to 2.5 percentage points to Pakistan’s annual economic growth.
For Islamic banking, the opening up of Iran is a huge development, as Iranian banks make up the world’s largest financial system based on Islamic law. A large number of sukuk and other Islamic securities from Iran are expected over the next few years. Estimations are that there are over 150 Iranian companies considering Islamic sukuk sales. Iran also requires funds for its infrastructure development programs estimated at around $1 trillion over the next decade, according to a report published by Forbes. Islamic banks in the region are building their activities in key sectors of the economy. Retail banking has traditionally been the mainstay of Islamic banking in the region. Here, investment in digital and smartphone banking will be crucial in future.
The fourth quarter of 2016 saw proposals published by AAOIFI for standards on central sharia boards as well as new governance rules for Islamic banks in Kuwait and the Federal Territory of Labuan. The quarter also saw the IFSB issue a technical note on stress testing for institutions offering Islamic financial services. The proposed AAOIFI standard on central sharia boards is intended to provide guidance for strengthening corporate governance and thereby increase the consumer appeal of sharia-compliant financial products. It covers several aspects such as the appointment, composition and dismissal of board members, tenure of the board, functions of the central sharia board, responsibilities of the appointing authority, fit and proper criteria, and independence.
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has launched a five-year Islamic Fund and Wealth Management Blueprint designed to drive further development and growth of Malaysia's Islamic capital market. The Blueprint aims to establish the country as a leading international centre for Islamic fund and wealth management. It was launched by Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani, Second Finance Minister of Malaysia, on behalf of Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, at the International Fund Forum 2017. To be implemented on a phased approach, initial work programmes will include the formulation of a framework for SRI funds, the setting up of a global centre for Islamic capital market and the introduction of a digital investment services framework.
Saudi Arabia plans a new Islamic bond issue in a sale that could come as early as February. The sharia-compliant sukuk will form part of a pipeline of bond sales to finance the kingdom’s budget deficit and invest in economic diversification away from oil. Last year, Saudi Arabia set a record for developing countries with its first sovereign bond sale, attracting $67bn in investor bids for a $17.5bn issue. Bashar Al-Natoor, global head of Islamic finance at Fitch Ratings, said diversification is natural for any emerging market, but the fall in oil prices have made it a necessity for exporters like Saudi Arabia. Lower oil prices have led to a drop in government reserves held in banks, which in turn has had an impact on their willingness to lend, so they have to look for alternative sources of financing.
Africa Finance Corp (AFC), a pan-African multilateral institution based in Nigeria, is likely to make a debut U.S. dollar sukuk issue by early February. If AFC makes a final decision to go ahead with the proposed debt sale over coming days, the sukuk will be issued in two or three weeks through a private sale. The sukuk would be structured with a murabaha format and use Nasdaq Dubai's platform for murabaha transactions. Mohamed Damak, global head of Islamic finance at S&P Global Ratings, said more sukuk issuance will come from Africa-based issuers over the next few years as borrowers seek to expand their investor bases. Another reason for issuers in Africa is that sometimes sukuk can be cheaper than conventional bonds, especially when it attracts significant interest from the market.
Sukuk issuance growth in the Arabian Gulf is likely to remain subdued this year even as countries in the region need to raise more debt to plug budget deficits. According to the latest research from S&P Global Ratings, the reason lies in the complexity of selling Sharia-compliant bonds. S&P's analyst Mohamed Damak said sales of Islamic bonds fell in 2015 and 2016 in the GCC as the issuance of conventional bonds soared. Globally, the market for sukuk is also expected to remain stable this year at between US$60 billion and $65bn. Despite the recent rebound in oil prices, the GCC will need about $275bn of financing between this year and 2019, of which half is expected to come from bonds and sukuk. Complexity of sukuk issuance is not the only headwind facing Islamic financing. According to S&P, rising interest rates in the US will also dampen appetite for sukuk this year.