Reconciling accounting standards and religious principles is challenging the Islamic banks and their regulators as they adapt to new international book-keeping rules due to come into force in 2018. The new rules, known as IFRS 9, will leave their mark on all major products used by Islamic banks - from simple savings accounts to Islamic bonds - and impact their bottom-lines. Banks around the globe are gearing up to implement IFRS 9 from January 2018, posing a particular challenge for many Islamic finance contracts as they change the way financial assets are classified and measured, requiring lenders to book expected losses in advance. The problem for most Islamic financial products is that their accounting treatment can often diverge from the actual economic substance of a transaction, a key concept behind IFRS 9. This has prompted the Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) to set up a working group to look at ways to revise its rules
A Shariah-compliant Sacco that promises to cushion pastoralists from incurring losses during droughts has opened a second branch in Wajir town. Crescent Takaful Sacco (CTS), the first Shariah-compliant Sacco in Kenya, seeks to engage and provide financial inclusion to the poor in northern Kenya. The Wajir branch is the first outside Nairobi. CTS has various products tailor-made for the arid and semi-arid region such as the Mifugo Kash-Kash product that links pastoral traders to potential markets. According to the Sacco’s Chairman Hassan Bashir, livestock traders are eligible for up to 70% financing through the product. The product is mainly delivered using the Islamic contracts of Mudharaba and Musharaka. In both contracts, the profit share is pre-agreed upfront and a distinct profit margin is charged on each delivered transaction.
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has signed an agreement with Turkey's Small and Medium Industry Development Organization (KOSGEB) to support SMEs. The group plans to provide $1 billion for Turkish companies. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by ITFC CEO Hani Salem Sonbol and KOSGEB President Recep Bicer. The MoU also examines the possibility of providing Islamic Trade Finance solutions to SMEs in Turkey. The suggested cooperation program includes developing joint programs for capacity building activities for SMEs in Turkey and Reverse Linkage Programs for transferring KOSGEB's know-how to other OIC member countries.
The financial crisis of 2008-09 shifted the world's focus towards greater accountability, enhancement in transparency, improvement in governance and a strict limit on leveraging. This has persuaded the world to look towards Islamic finance as a viable financial alternate. The asset-backed nature of Islamic financial transactions, in addition to the prohibition on speculative activities make it a more stable system than its conventional counterpart. Sukuk is being used by many developing countries as a tool of fiscal policy for economic development. Projects like roads, railways, airports and hospitals etc, are particularly appropriate for Sukuk financing. The Pakistani government has issued total 18 domestic Sukuk and three international Sukuk. The financing of infrastructure developmental projects can be achieved through issuance of Sukuk.
The Shari’ah Board of AAOIFI held its annual meeting from 17 to 19 November 2016 in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The meeting was concluded with issuance of a number of resolutions as well as the adoption of two new Shari'ah standards. The new standard on the Liability of Investment Manager defines the concepts of transgression and negligence and breach of contractual stipulations on the part of the investment manager. The standard also sets out the Shari'ah rulings pertaining to investment manager's liability or volunteering to bear liability. AAOIFI has also approved a new standard on Gold and it Trading Controls. The standard will be officially launched at a press conference whose date will be announced shortly. It will also be published together with other standards in the new edition of AAOIFI's standards.
Standard & Poor’s believes that in view of the fast growth of the Islamic finance industry robust Sharia governance structures are very important. While this model has provided an additional layer of control, actions requested by internal auditors are typically not disclosed to the public. So far only the authorities in Oman and Pakistan have asked Islamic banks to submit themselves to an external Sharia audit. The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) have already made significant strides in this area. However, S&P believes the current governance framework shows room for improvement. Only a handful of Islamic banks disclose their profit and loss sharing formulas, profit equalisation reserves, or investment risk reserves.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said people in Turkey paid some of the world's highest interest rates, something which had to change soon. He said the overnight interest rate reached 7,500 percent after Turkey’s economic crisis of 2001. The Turkish leader suggested adopting the gold standard to combat international pressures. Erdogan also said he had no words on the central bank's independence but said that as a politician he had a responsibility to the public who were being hurt by high rates. Turkey's Borsa Istanbul and the IDB signed a strategic cooperation agreement which aims to expand Islamic finance in Turkey and other IDB member countries. According to the agreement, the IDB will explore opportunities for its strategic stake acquisition from the country's exchange operator, Borsa Istanbul.
The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Finance Institutions (AAOIFI) is developing a standard for centralized sharia boards in order to regulate finances. The new practice may change a tradition of Islamic banks appointing their own sharia boards internally. Participants of the annual AAOIFI conference criticised the lack of a universal structure that would help clarify Islamic law on finance. Experts are now looking at conflicts of interest and how they can affect the industry. Centralized sharia boards would be independent from the banks, and would thus be able to provide good guidance and arbitration. Oman and Bahrain have already established these types of sharia boards. The UAE is looking at such a measure and other countries in the Islamic regions are considering the adoption of centralized sharia boards as well.
SGI-Mitabu, a joint venture of two Australian solar companies, The Solar Guys International and Mitabu Australia, has revived its plans to fund its Indonesian 250 megawatt solar project with Islamic compliant funding. SGI-Mitabu will offer its sukuk in Labuan, Malaysia. SGI-Mitabu's sukuk issue is set to be the first Islamic finance offering by an Australian corporate and could provide a useful example of alternative sources of capital to other companies. Companies seeking alternative sources of funding may wish to consider whether a form of Islamic finance would be suitable for their next project, even if they have to look outside their own jurisdiction to make it happen.
Pour permettre aux pays africains de régler leurs contrats de constructions de nouvelles infrastructures, il faut sans cesse trouver de nouveaux modes de financement. Les institutions internationales couvrent les deux tiers des projets, mais d’autres formes se développent, notamment à l’initiative de la Chine. Mi-novembre, le Sichuan Development Financial Leasing a annoncé qu’il allait vendre 300 millions de dollars de sukuk via Silk Routes Capital. Un fonds créé sur mesure à Singapour, piloté par des Chinois et une équipe de financiers internationaux. Une première pour la Chine dans ce domaine. Sur le continent, le Nigeria, le Sénégal ou encore le Soudan font de plus en plus appel à la finance islamique pour boucler les financements de projets ferroviaires et de gros équipements urbains.
Saudi Investment Bank closed a 500 million riyals ($133.3 million) Tier 1 sukuk sale on Monday. The subordinated Islamic bond was sold privately. The debt transaction will boost the bank's capital base and its capital adequacy ratio, in addition to diversifying the Saudi bank's funding sources and its maturity profile. The joint lead managers of the transaction were Alistithmar for Financial Securities and Brokerage and J.P. Morgan Saudi Arabia.
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.
The Reserve Bank of #India (RBI) has proposed opening of "Islamic window" in conventional banks for "gradual" introduction of Sharia-compliant or interest-free banking in the country. Both the Centre and RBI are exploring the possibility of introduction of Islamic banking for long to ensure financial inclusion. The central bank's proposal is based on examination of legal, technical and regulatory issues regarding feasibility of introducing Islamic banking in India on the basis of recommendation of the Inter Departmental Group (IDG). RBI has also prepared a technical analysis report which has been sent to the Finance Ministry.
Nasdaq Dubai and IdealRatings have launched a suite of indices tracking the performance of global Islamic bonds. The indices may serve as the underlying to future investment products including exchange-traded funds. To be eligible for inclusion in the indices, each bond must have a minimum size of at least $100m, a remaining time to maturity of at least three months, and must be approved by a Shariah accredited board. The Nasdaq Dubai IdealRatings Sukuk Index family comprises the Global Sukuk Index as well as several indices covering distinct segments of the market. They include investment grade issuances, issuances by sovereigns, issuances by corporates, issuances by financial institutions and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issuances. As of 1 October 2016 the Global Sukuk Index has returned 3.1% year-to-date and 15.2% since the index’s base date of 1 November 2012.
According to Fitch Ratings, Malaysia’s Islamic financing has maintained its double-digit growth in spite of the country’s moderating economy, with a 12.1% annual growth in the first half of 2016 (1H16). Although the growth was lower compared to last year, it still pushed Islamic loan share to 27.9% in the Malaysian banking system loan sector, versus 27% a year ago, as the sector’s expansion outperformed that of conventional banks over the past five years. Sukuk issuance also exceeded conventional bonds, with total market capitalisation rising to 62.2% by end-June 2016. Investment accounts expanded to RM36.2 billion by June this year from RM4.3 billion in July 2015, while Islamic deposits remained flat. Malaysia still leads the global Islamic finance industry in terms of regularisation, standardisation and sukuk issuance, accounting for over half of the issuances worldwide in 1H16.
The State Bank of #Pakistan (SBP) has announced a reduction in Statutory Liquidity Requirement (SLR) for Islamic banks and Islamic banking branches by 5% to fix at 14%. Presently, some Rs 570 billion of Islamic banking industry has been placed under the SLR with SBP. This amount includes some Rs 308 billion of Sukuk and Rs 225 billion of Bai-Muajjal. With the maturity of Rs 255 billion Bai-Muajjal, the amount will reach Rs 345 billion, therefore SBP has decided to cut the SLR and fix it at 14%. Time Liabilities, including Time Deposits with a tenor of 1 year and above, will not require any SLR. According to Islamic banking representatives, with the maturity of Rs 225 billion Bai-Muajjal, surplus liquidity of Islamic banking industry will surge to some Rs 400 billion, while there are no more investment opportunities for the Islamic banks in Pakistan.
Professor Datuk Rifaat Ahmed Abdel Karim was conferred the Royal Award for Islamic Finance 2016 by the King of Malaysia, His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The biennial Royal Award initiative recognises individuals who have excelled in advancing Islamic finance globally. Professor Datuk Rifaat’s contributions include the establishment of two international standard setting bodies, the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB). He is the first Secretary-General of the IFSB, a post he held since the IFSB started to operate in 2003 until 2011. Under his stewardship, the membership of the IFSB expanded from nine founding members in 2003 to almost 200 members in 2010. He is a prolific writer and has authored several academic papers in key areas including accounting, finance, governance, Shari’ah and regulatory issues to further contribute to the development of Islamic finance.
The unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election caused the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to wait a bit longer to assess the impact on the regional bond market. IDB will announce this week plans for investor roadshows covering its planned sukuk sale. The issue, expected to be in excess of $1 billion, is one of the few remaining debt sales likely to be completed in the Middle East before the end of this year. Some Middle Eastern bond transactions for which banks had already been mandated have been put on hold and potential borrowers have decided to wait until January to see how markets perform. In addition to the IDB, Abu Dhabi airline Etihad is also expected to launch a sukuk issue soon, likely to be in the $1 billion region. The bond is expected to be executed later this week.
Italian money manager Azimut Holding will jointly manage its Islamic bonds fund with Maybank Asset Management Group to cater to growing demand for hard currency sukuk products. The partnership will allow the fund to penetrate new markets including Malaysia and Singapore, where Maybank Asset Management already operates. Azimut launched its global sukuk fund in 2013 which has over $130 million in assets. Maybank Asset Management launched a U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk fund of its own in 2014. Sukuk funds remain tiny compared to their conventional fixed-income counterparts, but the sukuk market has widened in recent years thanks to an increasing number of issuers and investors.
According to Maisam Fazal, head of commercial finance at Al Rayan Bank, Sharia-compliant peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders could soon be coming to the UK market. Despite welcoming more firms to the Islamic finance market, Maisam suggested that rates as low as Al Rayan’s could make it off-putting for potential new entrants. He explained that having competitive rates was paramount for Islamic finance banks, as the cost of funding could make products more expensive. Maisam claimed that Al Rayan was unique in offering lenders Sharia-compliant debt.