According to Fitch Ratings, a slowdown in Islamic financing growth in the UAE will reveal a deterioration in banks' asset quality as portfolios season more quickly. This will start to become evident as banks report their 2016 results. Financing growth slowed in 2016 and a continuing slowdown in 2017 is expected. Demand for Islamic financing in the UAE has grown rapidly with increasing customer awareness and wider adoption of Shari'ah products, especially among retail customers. Growth of Islamic bank financing in 2016 was expected to have been significantly lower than in 2015, although still higher than that of conventional bank lending. Newer Islamic banks with smaller franchises are likely to be affected first by the slowdown. Those that have been established for longer are likely to be affected later, and to a lesser degree, given their stronger franchises.
According to Fitch Ratings, the plan to introduce Value Added Tax (VAT) in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states could be a key test for the region's Islamic finance industry. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain approved the implementation of VAT in the GCC, however, local implementation laws must still be agreed in each country. This paves the way for the introduction of an expected 5% VAT rate as early as the beginning of 2018. Without tax neutrality or equality rules, the introduction of VAT would put Islamic finance transactions at a disadvantage to conventional transactions. A VAT charge adds to the instalment payments in a murabaha, while a conventional transaction would not have VAT for the sale of the asset added to the interest payments. Numerous countries with VAT have provided for some form of tax neutrality or equality for Islamic finance transactions, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan.
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.
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.
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.
Fitch Ratings has assigned Kuveyt Turk's proposed US dollar-denominated sukuk certificates an expected 'BBB(EXP)' rating. The expected rating is in line with Kuveyt Turk's Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of 'BBB', which has a Negative Outlook. The issuer is KT Kira Sertifikalari Varlik Kiralama (KKSVK), which is wholly owned by Kuveyt Turk. The documentation includes a negative pledge provision that is binding on Kuveyt Turk, as well as financial reporting obligations, covenants, Kuveyt Turk event (including cross default) and change of control clause. Certain aspects of the transaction will be governed by English law while others will be governed by Turkish law.
Fitch Ratings has affirmed GFH Financial Group’s (GFH) Short-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at "B" and revised its outlook upward from stable to Positive with a Long-term IDR at "B-". The positive outlook reflects the steps GFH’s management have taken to strengthen its balance sheet by paying down debt, reshaping the business model with focus on income-generating investments, and consequent improvement of profitability. GFH said it believes that this upward revision of the outlook is the result of its new strategy and in developing new recurring steams of income through income yielding investments.
Fitch Ratings has assigned Bahrain's proposed US dollar-denominated sovereign global sukuk trust certificates, to be issued by CBB International Sukuk Company 5 (CBB5), an expected 'BB+(EXP)' rating. Fitch has also assigned Bahrain's proposed US dollar-denominated bonds an expected 'BB+(EXP)' rating. The expected ratings are in line with Bahrain's Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR), which was downgraded to 'BB+' with a Stable Outlook in June 2016. Certain aspects of the sukuk transaction will be governed by English law while others will be governed by laws of Bahrain. Fitch's rating on the certificates reflects the agency's belief that the Bahraini government would stand behind its obligations.
According to a recent Fitch Ratings report, major Saudi banks continue to report liquidity coverage ratios (LCRs) above 100% despite a 30% outflow of government-related deposits. The banks’ ability to withstand such a shock demonstrates that their liquidity positions are resilient. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) released $5.3 billion (20 billion Saudi riyals) of government-related deposits into the banking sector yesterday. According to Fitch Ratings, Saudi banks will continue to adopt careful liquidity management strategies in order to protect their LCRs from falling below current levels.
Fitch Ratings has affirmed the rating of The Goldman Sachs Group's JANY Sukuk Company guaranteed trust certificate issuance programme at 'A'. The equalization of the certificate programme's rating is due to the Sukuk's structure. Upon a trust dissolution event, J. Aron will be obliged under the Murabaha Agreement to acquire, or arrange for a third-party purchaser to acquire JANY's beneficial interest in the commodities in the Wakala portfolio. Goldman will unconditionally and irrevocably guarantee the payment obligations of J. Aron under the Murabaha contract. The Sukuk program does not benefit from a cross-default provision within the guarantee documents.
According to Fitch Ratings the inclusion of sukuk in major bond indexes would be a significant boost for the product, but initiatives to harmonise standards and improve transparency remain key to its long-term development. Reuters reported that JP Morgan would include eight sovereign and corporate sukuk in various bond indexes from 31 October. This may encourage issuers to supply index-eligible sukuk and support secondary market liquidity. However, Fitch Ratings believes the sukuk market's growth rate will be determined by two factors. Firstly, product-specific initiatives around regulation of sukuk issuance, which have been noteable in some jurisdictions, but have not always been harmonised across jurisdictions. Secondly, the broader attempts to deepen the investor base and improve transparency in the relevant capital markets. Sukuk issuance from key markets in 1H16 rose 11% from a year earlier to USD21.74bn, representing 30% of total issuance. Overall, Fitch expects this year's sukuk issuance to at least match 2015 issuance of around USD32bn.
Fitch Ratings has updated its criteria for rating Sukuk, which replace the existing criteria published on 18 August 2015. Fitch's analytical assumption is that the structure of the sukuk and the underlying transaction provides for full recourse to the originator and the sukuk rating is driven solely by the originator's rating. It remains uncertain whether certificate holders will be able to enforce their contractual rights in local courts. Ratings assigned to sukuk do not imply any confirmation that the sukuk are sharia-compliant.
Issuance of Sukuk is up all around the world, up on last year, due to current economic factors and the goodwill for the instrument among global investors
The good news on the Sukuk front is continuing. The proportion of Sukuk bond issuance hit a record in the first quarter of 2016 in the main markets for this form of finance, said Fitch Ratings. According to Fitch’s data, there is a clear upwards trend in use of Shari'ah-compliant borrowing as more countries create legal frameworks to support issuance and as issuers try to attract a broader investor base, including Islamic finance investors.
Total new Sukuk issuance in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Singapore and Pakistan was around $11.1 billion in the first quarter of 2016, with a maturity of 18 months. Issuance was up 22% from the fourth quarter of 2015 and 21% from a year earlier, while non-Sukuk bond issuance of $17.1 billion was down 23% quarter on quarter and 45% year on year. Sukuk represented 39.3% of total bond and Sukuk issuance in these countries during the quarter—the highest proportion in the past eight years.
Fitch Ratings has affirmed EI Sukuk's updated $2.5 bn certificate issuance programme's 'A+' rating on the basis of the final programme documents received. The Outlook on the IDR is Stable. The rating on the current outstanding certificates is driven by Emirates NBD's (ENBD) Long-Term IDR of 'A+'/Stable. This is due to the Sukuk structure where ENBD, as the guarantor, provides a direct and unconditional guarantee of EI's Sukuk obligations under the transaction documents.
Fitch Ratings expects Turkish banks to have continued resilience to economic shocks as they still retain reasonable capitalization and liquidity. According to Fitch Financial Institutions Director Lindsey Liddell the agency expects their performance to remain reasonable, however the banks will face some challenges given the slower growth environment and margin pressure from competition. There will be further asset quality pressures, particularly considering the sector's high level of foreign currency lending and the sharp devaluation of the local currency in 2015.
According to Fitch Ratings the total new Sukuk issuance (with a maturity of more than 18 months) in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Singapore and Pakistan was around US$11.1 billion (RM42.9 billion) in the first quarter of 2016. Fitch said that Sukuk issuance was up 22% from Q4’15 and 21% from a year earlier, while non-Sukuk bond issuance of US$17.1 billion was down 23% quarter-on-quarter and 45% year-on-year. Sukuk represented 39.3% of total bond and Sukuk issuance in these countries during the quarter – the highest proportion in the past eight years.
Fitch Ratings has affirmed Qatar National Bank's Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) at 'AA-'. The agency has also affirmed the IDRs of The Commercial Bank, Doha Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, Al Khalij Commercial Bank, Qatar International Islamic Bank and Ahli Bank and International Bank of Qatar at 'A+'. The Outlooks on all the Long-Term IDRs are Stable. Fitch has also upgraded International Bank of Qatar's Viability Rating, which is driven by its growth strategy, focusing almost exclusively on Qatar.
Long-term sukuk issuance rose by 21 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, as Gulf states with worsening fiscal balances tapped international bond markets. According to Fitch the GCC states – along with Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Singapore and Pakistan – issued US$11.1 billion of sukuk in the first three months of the year. These countries issued 39.3 per cent of their debt as sukuk – the highest ratio of sukuk to conventional debt in eight years.
Fitch Ratings has downgraded the Long Term Issuer Default Ratings (LT IDRs) of seven Saudi Arabian banks. The affected banks are Al Rajhi Bank (ARB), National Commercial Bank (NCB), Riyad Bank (RB), SAMBA Financial Group (SAMBA), Saudi British Bank (SABB), Banque Saudi Fransi (BSF) and Arab National Bank (ANB). At the same time Fitch has revised the Outlooks on Saudi Hollandi Bank (SHB), Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB), Alinma Bank (Alinma) and Bank Aljazira (BAJ) to Negative from Stable, while affirming their ratings.
Fitch Ratings has assigned Indonesia's proposed US dollar-denominated sovereign global certificates (sukuk) issued through Perusahaan Penerbit SBSN Indonesia III (PPSI-III) an expected 'BBB-(EXP)' rating. The expected rating is in line with Indonesia's Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of 'BBB-', which has a Stable Outlook. The rating reflects Fitch's view that cash flows supporting payment on the sukuk will constitute direct, unconditional, unsecured and general obligations of Indonesia, ranking equally with Indonesia's unsecured and unsubordinated marketable external debt. Fitch has given no consideration to the sukuk's underlying assets.