The central bank of #Malaysia plans to undertake an in-depth review of important organisations to re-energise the Islamic finance talent development landscape. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said over the years, the central bank had established specialised institutions to enrich the talent ecosystem. These include the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance, International Shari’ah Research Academy (ISRA), Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM), the Chartered Institute of Islamic Finance Professionals and the Association of Shariah Advisors in Islamic Finance Malaysia. Ibrahim noted that the new Educator’s Manual on Shariah Standards on Murabahah has several benefits for universities and stakeholders. One benefit is strategising talent deployment, while another area is the reconfiguration of academic programme to nurture talent with enhanced employability.
In #Malaysia Bank Negara governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said Islamic banking assets made up 27% of the total banking system, surpassing Bank Negara’s Financial Sector Masterplan. He said that there were 27 takaful players offering more than 100 financial products now compared with fewer than four Islamic banks and takaful players before year 2000. He added that the penetration rate for takaful now stood at 14.8% of the population, indicating growing acceptance of takaful products. On the launch of the Educator’s Manual on Shariah Standard Murabahah, Muhammad said that the manual was aimed to act as a comprehensive teaching guide to enhance the Islamic finance syllabus. It was jointly developed by Bank Negara in collaboration with the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance and IBFIM.
The race to tap an US$11.5 trillion pool of wealth held by Muslim individuals, institutions and governments is intensifying. The asset management units of Malaysia's RHB Bank and Indonesia's PT Bank Mandiri plan new Islamic funds. RHB Group Asset, which oversees 54 billion ringgit ($13.5 billion), will offer new Islamic funds in Malaysia and may make some of them available in Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and the Middle East. The Indonesian Mandiri Manajemen’s plan for more Shariah investment vehicles comes after the company’s global Islamic stock fund drew $10 million from institutional investors when it was set up on Aug. 4. According to Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre, the global Islamic asset management industry is forecast to grow to $77 billion by 2019 from $58 billion at the end of 2015.
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) launched the Educator's Manual on Shariah standards and operational requirements in accordance with the Murabahah principle. BNM Governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said the manual serves as an important material towards enhancing the quality of Islamic finance education. The manual was developed by BNM together with the International Shari'ah Research Academy for lslamic Finance (ISRA) and the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM). A panel of 20 experts in various fields contributed to its content.
In #Malaysia islamic banking assets now stand at 27% of the total banking system, surpassing the targeted 20% under Bank Negara Malaysia’s financial sector master plan. Bank Negara governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said there were now 27 players offering more than 100 financial products compared with fewer than four Islamic banks and takaful players before 2000. The Educator’s Manual on Shariah and Practical Operational Standards was launched on Tuesday to enhance the quality of education. Of the 14 syariah standards that are being developed by Bank Negara, Murabahah is the first series in the educator’s manual. The manual for other contracts will be developed gradually.
Bank Mandiri, Indonesia's biggest bank by assets, is set to meet the 300 million ringgit ($74 million) capital requirement to operate as a full banking branch in Malaysia. Financial authorities from Indonesia and Malaysia signed a bilateral agreement allowing greater access for lenders from both countries to fully operate in the respective jurisdictions. Bank Mandiri will open several new offices and a string of ATMs in the country, though it will not specifically target the retail banking market in Malaysia. Mandiri had already opened one subsidiary in Malaysia called Mandiri International Remittance whose service is limited to sending money to and from Indonesia. When it has a full branch in Malaysia, it will also be able to offer credit services.
Tun Abdullah Badawi, the former Prime Minister of #Malaysia, has launched the Waqf (Islamic Endowment) crowdfunding platform or WaqfWorld. The new platform was announced at the 12th World Islamic Economic Foundation Forum (WIEF) held in Jakarta last week. The platform was developed in partnership with EthisVentures.com. Founding patron, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi saw the potential of Waqf Crowdfunding to develop the whole community of Muslims. WaqfWorld.org does not charge beneficiaries or users any fees. The platform is completely free during the initial phase. Operational costs will be partially borne by voluntary contributions, and other resources provided by Ethis Ventures.
Technology financier Malaysia Debt Ventures Bhd (MDV) plans to raise RM1bil via sukuk in the fourth quarter of this year. The planned issuance is aimed to increase MDV's lending ability including to start-ups. CEO Datuk Md Zubir Ansori Yahaya said the new sukuk issuance would likely have a government-guarantee status. Md Zubir said the funds from the new sukuk, which will likely have a 10-15 year tenure, could be rolled out and replenished until end-2017. To-date, MDV has approved a total of RM9.8bil in financing support to 700 innovation, technology and information technology-based companies including Iris Corp, Puncak Semangat and MOL Global Inc.
Inflows in debt vehicles issued by Muslim Southeast Asian nations have increased in the recent past. Malaysia and Indonesia are greatly benefiting from their current monetary easing policies, relaxed tax policies and government infrastructure spending programs. The Pan-Borneo Highway project adds to other sukuk issuances, among them a $1.3bn-offer by Sarawak Hidro, the state-owned developer of Malaysia’s biggest hydropower project, also on Borneo Island. Other infrastructure sukuk in the queue are a $440mn-issuance for the bridge connecting Peninsular Malaysia with Penang island and a $892mn-issuance for a highway network. Indonesia’s government is also enlarging the scope of sukuk-backed investment in roads and railways. However, the state budget is only capable of contributing 30%, which means that a large number of future issuances can be expected, with its uptake spurred by generous tax incentives.
Executives of Indonesian and Malaysian stock markets signed on Tuesday a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of a World Sharia Stock Market Center. Signing of the document was conducted by Indonesia Stock Exchange President Director Tito Sulistio and his Malaysian counterpart Tajuddin Bin Atan. The planned center aims to develop Sharia products and portfolios for stock markets, but also to train human resources to become competent, professional and skillful persons in the industry. Global Sharia financial market was estimated to expand to USD 3.24 trillion by 2020.
Australian Islamic investment company Crescent Wealth and KAF Investment Funds have jointly launched the KAF Australian Islamic Property Fund (KAIPF). Crescent Wealth corporate strategy director Omar Khan said the fund would achieve 9-10% annual return to investors, a target driven by the appetite of Malaysian investors for Australian property. The KAIPF is Malaysia’s first fund that provides non-institutional investors direct access to Australian commercial property. The launch of KAIPF brings the total number of funds under KAF to 18, with close to RM2.3 billion worth of assets under management.
Khazanah Nasional, the $27 billion Malaysian sovereign fund, is weighing a bid for control of the insurance operations of billionaire Quek Leng Chan’s Hong Leong Financial Group. Khazanah is considering an offer for Hong Leong Financial’s 70% stake in Hong Leong Assurance and its 65% holding in Hong Leong MSIG Takaful. The bid could be valued at about 3.2 billion ringgit ($799 million). Hong Leong Financial said last month that Malaysia’s central bank had no objection to the sale of its stakes in the two insurance units.
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.
Over the last two decades, Islamic finance and socially-responsible investments (SRI) have become essential part of the development discourse. These two have seen the most rapidly growing areas of finance, of which Islamic financial assets have grown by 15-20% a year and its volume in 2014 exceeded US$2 trillion (RM8 trillion), while the SRI assets globally in the same year soared from US$13 trillion to US$20 trillion in two years. The principles of Islamic finance share common threads with SRI. These commonalities provide opportunities for Islamic finance to broaden its portfolio by tapping into the large amount of SRI funds available in global market.
Malaysia already started in August 2014, when it launched its Sustainable Responsible Investment Sukuk Framework to facilitate the financing of SRI initiatives. SRI sukuk can act as a compass for investors in the creation of shared value within society.
The Pan-Borneo Highway in East Malaysia, a jumbo project estimated to cost 27 bin ringgit ($9.16 bn), is finally starting to take shape as the federal government prepares to launch initial funding to start the construction. The selected group of banks includes the four top Malaysian lenders: CIMB, AmInvestment Bank, Maybank and RHB. About 60 per cent of the project will eventually be funded with proceeds from ringgit-denominated Islamic bonds to be issued through federal government funding vehicle DanaInfra Nasional. The first batch of bonds, wrapped with a federal government guarantee, is expected to raise around 10 billion ringgit. The launch is timed for August or September.
Malaysia’s second-largest pension fund plans to buy more bonds to hedge against another interest-rate cut as it moves further toward becoming a full-fledged Islamic entity. CEO of Kumpulan Wang Persaraan, Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad said the fund is considering lowering its 5% minimum return target because of the uncertainty in global markets. He also added that this low interest-rate environment, low corporate returns, lower dividend yields will prevail for a much longer period. KWAP bought 30-year Malaysian government bonds at a yield of 4.613% on June 29, days after the UK voted to leave the European Union. Wan Kamaruzaman said the fund will likely keep its 2% allocation to UK assets, despite the results of the referendum, because it adds diversification to the portfolio.
Indonesia's Islamic bond yields have fallen faster than Malaysia's in the past three months, as the nation's higher-yielding notes do better at attracting foreign investors. Yields on rupiah sukuk due 2019 slid 37 basis points in the period, compared with 24 basis points for equivalent paper in Malaysia. Indonesia's three-year Islamic bonds pay 7.16%, while those in Malaysia yield 3.26%. Indonesian bonds are the best performers in South-east Asia this year after the government passed a tax amnesty bill on undeclared income held overseas. Bank Negara Malaysia lowered borrowing costs for oil, as well as its projection for consumer prices to 2%-3% in 2016, from 2.5%-3.5 %. Currently both nation's currencies are seeing a revival.
1Malaysia Development (1MDB) agreed to the Request for Arbitration filed by International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and Aabar Investments (Aabar). 1MDB is confident of its legal position and reiterated that, notwithstanding the dispute with IPIC, it would continue to honour its current debt obligations. Last month, 1MDB paid the RM1.579 million interest coupon on the RM2.4 billion Bandar Malaysia sukuk, due 2024. In May, 1MDB made a scheduled coupon payment amounting to RM143.75 million on its RM5 billion 5.75% Islamic Medium-Term Notes due 2039.
Swiss insurer Zurich Insurance Company has bought MAA Takaful (MAAT) from MAA Group and Solidarity Group Holding to expand its insurance and takaful business in Malaysia. Zurich Insurance Malaysia CEO Philip Smith said the company will be able to provide a wide range of insurance and takaful solutions across multiple customer segments, supported by the technical and servicing expertise in the wider Zurich Group. The acquisition cost RM525 mn and about RM400 mn was paid at the closing of the transaction. The remaining amount will be paid on the third anniversary after the closing.
1Malaysia Development (1MDB) has paid the RM1.579 million interest coupon on the RM2.4 billion Bandar Malaysia sukuk due in 2024. This is the second interest payment made by 1MDB since its dispute with the Abu Dhabi’s state-owned investor, International Petroleum Investment (IPIC). The first payment was in May, when 1MDB made a scheduled coupon payment amounting to RM143.75 million on its RM5 billion 5.75% Islamic medium-term notes due 2039. The two payments strongly indicated that the company had ample liquidity to make interest payments. According to 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy 1MDB was focused on resolving the dispute with IPIC and would continue to honour current debt obligations.