Islamic finance has largely been a priority area in Malaysia for three decades and it is not about to slow down. The World Bank's recent Global Report on Islamic Finance highlighted Malaysia as having the largest Islamic banking assets in the region with US$156.7 billion (RM697.15 billion) as at 2013. Malaysia is also the second-largest economy in terms of total syariah-compliant financial assets. However, the report also suggested the need to address several challenges like the need for alternative investments. On a positive note, the report said the syariah governance framework was advanced in Malaysia. Within Asia, Malaysia has been dominating the sukuk issuance market. The US dollar-denominated sukuk have been growing, but sukuk denominated in Malaysian ringgit are growing even faster and dominate the market.
According to Fitch Ratings, Malaysia's takaful sector continues to enjoy higher growth than the conventional sector. This growth is driven by a low base, stable domestic consumption and increasing consumer awareness. The rating agency said that regulatory pressure would drive sector consolidation in the short term. As takaful operators realign their strategic focus and gradually retain more risks, Fitch expects some bottom-line volatility in the short term. For the first half of 2016 (1H2016), family takaful grew by 9.8%, while general takaful grew by 5.8%. This compared to 8.2% growth in conventional life and 2.6% in general insurance.
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.
HSBC Amanah Malaysia has appointed Arsalaan Ahmed as its chief executive officer (CEO). HSBC Amanah announced that Arsalaan will be leading the Islamic banking businesses for retail, commercial and wholesale banking, and reporting to HSBC Bank CEO Mukhtar Hussain. Prior to joining HSBC Amanah, Arsalaan was appointed as the head of capital financing and financial institutions of Barwa Bank in Doha, Qatar, where he led the development of the Islamic debt capital market and wholesale banking platform. Arsalaan has 15 years of experience and has distinguished himself as an expert in syariah-compliant retail, corporate and investment banking.
CIMB Investment Bank (CIMB IB) came out tops on RAM Rating Services' league tables for both corporate bonds and sukuk as at end-September 2016, after having arranged RM21.25 billion worth of RAM-rated corporate bonds and sukuk. The amount represents 56% of the RM37.88 billion RAM-rated corporate bonds and sukuk in the first nine months of the year. In terms of sukuk programme value, Maybank Investment Bank (Maybank IB), which has arranged RM12.54 billion or 72% of RAM-rated sukuk, takes the lead. As at end-September 2016, outstanding corporate bonds stood at RM536.5 billion, while the gross issuance of corporate bonds and sukuk amounted to RM66.4 billion, almost 50% higher than last year’s January-to-September period. RAM anticipates the corporate bond market to chart a steady course through the remainder of 2016.
According to Moody’s Investors Service, Oman and Indonesia have made the most progress this year in terms of taking initiatives to advance Islamic finance. According to Khalid Howladar, global head of Islamic finance at Moody’s, Oman’s strategy has already yielded substantive results and new sukuk regulations have been published. Over three years Oman’s Islamic banking sector has gone from zero to an agregate of around 10% of the banking system’s financing assets as of June 2016. Indonesia has several inititives to accelerate growth. Also, the country launched a 10-year Islamic finance master plan that consists of action plans and interventions covering key aspects. Meanwhile, markets that seem to have stalled this year are the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
In #Malaysia APM Automotive Holdings has proposed to establish an Islamic commercial papers (ICP) programme and Islamic medium term notes (IMTN), with a combined nominal value of up to RM1.5 billion. In a bourse filing APM said the ICP and IMTN programmes will have a tenure of seven years and 20 years respectively, from the date of first issue. The proceeds from the issuance of the sukuk murabahah shall be utilised by the company for general corporate purposes and to refinance future financing of APM and its subsidiaries. APM assured that the utilisation of the proceeds of the sukuk murabahah programmes would be at all times for syariah-compliant purposes.
NB: Figure was amended from RM 3 bn to RM 1.5 bn following correction in original source.
While the number of Islamic products in #Malaysia has grown in the last 10 years, there still aren’t enough to cater for the needs of local investors. According to Rohani Mohd Shahir, president of the Association for Islamic Financial and Wealth Management Malaysia (AIFiWM) the growing demand is due to a greater awareness of compliance for religious purposes. There is a lack of Islamic real estate investment trusts (REITs) and fewer shariah-compliant stocks in Malaysia today due to the tightening of regulatory requirements. To increase the number of listings available, AIFiWM is championing a move to restore the shariah-compliant status of companies that were once deemed compliant.
Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, the former CEO of CIMB Islamic Bank, has been appointed deputy CEO of pilgrim fund Lembaga Tabung Haji. Badlisyah gained fame when he disputed the authenticity of banking documents released by The Wall Street Journal relating to 1Malaysia Development, which touched on US$700 million being transferred to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal accounts. While an internal inquiry was ongoing at CIMB, Badlisyah resigned in mid-August last year. It is not clear how Badlisyah is already stated on the company website as deputy CEO, when no formal announcement has been made in this respect.
In #Malaysia estate planning is an often forgotten element in a Muslim’s financial plan. According to Abdul Aziz Peru Mohamed, CEO of as-Salihin Trustee, estate planning is how we protect the assets we have spent a lifetime accumulating. He says 85% of the local Muslim population have not done any estate planning. There had been an estimated RM60 billion worth of unclaimed assets since the country’s independence in 1957. This is a substantial increase from RM42 billion worth of frozen assets in 2011. By having a will or trust, the issue of unclaimed assets will not arise as the settlor will appoint an executor or trustee to manage the deceased’s assets.
The Thomson Reuters Global Sukuk Index was last at 119.83102 points, up from 116.97354 at the end of last year. The Thomson Reuters Investment Grade Sukuk Index is at 118.12115 points against 115.21206 at end-2015. The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, which completed a debut sale of US$300 mn of five-year sukuk this year as well as two private placements, plans a further transaction in coming months.
#Malaysian fund Lembaga Tabung Haji has hired broker Savills to find a buyer for its London office building at 10 Queen Street Place. The building was purchased by Tabung Haji in 2012 for £165 mn and is now expected to sell for about £200 million. Malaysia’s state investment funds have been selling UK real estate as the government called on them to help the country’s stock and currency markets.
Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd (STM)’s first financial quarter ended March 31, 2016 (1QFY16) net profit was in line with their expectations, accounting for 24% of the full-year forecast. The positive takeaway from the 1QFY16 results was a swift expansion of 14.4% year-on-year (y-o-y) in gross earned contributions (GEC) to RM426.8 million. This emanated primarily from its family takaful unit, which chalked up a growth of 21.8% y-o-y in its 1QFY16 GEC (mainly from mortgage-related products).
The Thomson Reuters Global Sukuk Index was last at 118.52310 points, up from 116.97354 at the end of last year. The Thomson Reuters Investment Grade Sukuk Index is at 116.74988 points against 115.21206 at end-2015. Some of the sukuk in the pipeline are the following: Saudi International Petrochemical Co said in late March that it had appointed Riyad Capital and NCB Capital as lead managers for a sukuk issue, without giving further details. Saudi Arabian Airlines plans to raise 5 billion riyals (US$1.3 billion) via the first tranche of a sukuk issuance programme in the second or third quarter of this year. Kuwait's Boubyan Bank aims to issue US$250 million of sukuk before the end of April.
Today, crowdfunding is a part of the financial services segment known as financial technology (fintech). And it is seeing exponential growth in investments. There are four types of crowdfunding — debt, equity, rewards and donations. There are also new variants and concepts such as Islamic crowdfunding, which is the use of shariah-compliant crowdfunding platforms. Higher bank interest rates for property development have seen the emergence of real estate crowdfunding. And as interest rates continue to rise, developers will need to look beyond traditional financing for their projects, according to a Crowd101.com article entitled “Crowdfunding 2016 predictions: The next real estate boom?”
Investors can now look forward to investing directly in and sharing the profits from shariah-compliant investment activities via the first Islamic bank-intermediated financial technology (fintech) platform in the world. The Investment Account Platform (IAP) was launched by Bank Negara Malaysia on Feb 17. Similar to crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending platforms, the IAP allows investors to fund either private or government-related ventures that are seeking financing to grow their business. Investors will be allowed to choose the ventures they invest in and may define the investment mandate and eligibility criteria for their financing, for example, the investment tenure and types of industries.
Sukuk issuance for the near term will remain stable despite current global economic uncertainties, as it is seen as a resilient financing instrument to weather through difficult times, according to Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) secretary-general Jaseem Ahmed. This is because the issuance of the Islamic finance instrument is very much dependent on preconditions of a particular country, and not solely or directly correlated to current economic and market volatility, he said. However, he added that while current concerns regarding global headwinds are not to be underestimated, many governments are recognising that it does help to have a diverse source of income.
Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) has been recognised as a leading Islamic wealth management centre. In a statement today, Labuan IBFC said close to 55% of all respondents regarded it as a leading Islamic wealth management provider in a survey by London-based Edbiz Consulting. The survey, which reached more than 10,000 respondents globally, was aimed at assessing the knowledge, attitudes and practices towards Islamic wealth management in order to better understand the demand for Shariah compliant wealth management services within the investing community and their clientele. The research was part of the co-branded Islamic Wealth Management Report 2016, which was launched recently.
Khazanah Nasional Bhd may sell its stake in Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd only after the latter merged with Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) to form the country's largest full-fledged Islamic bank. Reiterating that it is not taking the lead in negotiations, Khazanah managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said the country's strategic investment fund is not particular about the structure of the merger, provided the valuations are fair. It has been reported that the merger would be effected via a share swap. There have been various scenarios bandied about on Khazanah's preferred outcome for its 30% stake in Bank Muamalat. DRB-Hicom Bhd holds the remaining 70% of Bank Muamalat.
As global Islamic bonds languish in the bleakest year for sales since 2010, the next 12 months look just as challenging. Malaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings Bhd ( Valuation: 1.65, Fundamental: 0.55), the top sukuk arranger worldwide for seven of the last nine years, predicts a pick up in 2016 to at least US$40 billion from 2015’s US$34.5 billion. The forecast is still 20% less than the record US$50.1 billion in 2012. Slowing economic growth could weigh on companies’ capital and their investment spending. Borrowers in the US$2 trillion Islamic finance industry also now face higher costs after the US raised interest rates for the first time in almost a decade and signaled more increases.