Growth of women in Islamic finance remains a challenge

Many women have and are still contributing to the development of the contemporary Islamic finance movement, and yet their contribution, except in countries such as Malaysia, has largely been marginalized by an industry that is still dominated by middle class men.
The issue of gender equality and empowerment is one that affects all societies whether in the West or East. The issue of unequal payment for the same jobs in the City of London, one of the world's largest financial centers, is still entrenched. The number of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies is still woefully low.

Malaysia Biotech in $80m Islamic facility

Malaysia's Bio-XCell is finalizing the details of a yet undisclosed commodity Murabahah facility with a leading local bank.
The financing is estimated to be around RM250m ($82.2m). Details have not yet become available but signing of the agreements should take place in a few weeks.


IILM Targets To Issue First Shariah-Compliant Financial Instruments By Year-End

The International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) is expected to issue the first Shariah-compliant financial instruments by year-end.
The minimum size of the instruments could be US$300 million depending on the market demand.
The IILM was established on October 2010 with 14 founding shareholders, comprising the 12 central banks of Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia,Mauritius, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as two multi-lateral institutions, the Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector.

Nigeria eyes role as African Islamic banking hub

Nigeria wants to establish itself as the African hub for Islamic banking and is working on a regulatory framework to try to emulate the success of the industry in Malaysia.
Nigeria is home to the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa, with around half of its 150 million people members of the Islamic faith. It is also home to one of Africa's fastest growing consumer and corporate banking sectors.

Malaysia puts pressure on Seoul to allow ‘Sukuk’ transactions

The Malaysian government’s recent encouragement of Korean financial institutions to issue “sukuk” instead of ringgit-denominated bonds is part of the country’s aim to foster a strong Islamic financial hub.
They want to develop an Islamic financial market, so they give tax exemptions for bond holders and sukuk holders here.

Malaysia’s commodity murabaha push still has a way to go

Academics and industry participants in Malaysia are advocating further developments of treasury and money market products, notably via a new exchange initiative. But commodity murabaha structures developed to facilitate liquidity management by banks based on palm oil have attracted criticism from some quarters.
That’s why the Malaysian authorities are pushing ahead with efforts to make the country a world-leading Islamic financial hub. One of its latest initiatives has been to establish interbank money market instruments based on palm oil to satisfy the treasury needs of Islamic financial institutions.

Gulf Investment Corp issues its first local currency sukuk amounting to RM600m

Gulf Investment Corporation GSC Kuwait (GIC) had on Tuesday, March 1 issued its first local currency Sukuk amounting to RM600 million in the Malaysian market.
The GIC stated that this would be its third bond offering in Malaysia.

A new M'sian benchmark for sukuk investments

Referred to as the Bursa Malaysia Sovereign Shariah Index (BMSSI), the new Malaysian ringgit sukuk index was developed with the help of the Association of Islamic Banking Institutions Malaysia (Aibim) and will form part of Bloomberg's Islamic Finance Platform which seeks to leverage on the growing demand for information for syariah-compliant products and services.

Cross-border sukuk on the rise

Cross-border sukuk originations into and out of Malaysia are set to increase as the global sukuk market continues its rebound. Investors are looking for better and more diversified returns, as the Malaysian government’s policy of encouraging government-linked companies (GLCs) and local financial institutions and corporates to increase their cross-border exposure to Islamic capital market instruments start to take effect.

Huge potential for sukuk in Saudi and Gulf market: Al-Jasser

Al-Jasser had earlier delivered a “tour de force” lecture titled “Macroeconomic Management in an Oil Economy: the Case of Saudi Arabia” in the historic Examinations Hall at Oxford University in the presence of Adrian Wood, professor of International Development at Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University; Farhan Nizami, director of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS), and Nazir Tun Abdul Razak, chairman and CEO of Malaysia’s CIMB Bank Group and younger brother of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Abdul Razak.
The fact that Al-Jasser included Islamic finance as one of four main challenges of managing the Saudi economy going forward is a welcome departure from previous governors of SAMA who dare not speak the name of Islamic banking.

Islamic megabank gets Bahrain, Malaysia approval

A long-touted Islamic megabank has received approval from Bahrain and a preliminary green light from Malaysia to begin operations.
Saudi Arabia's Sheikh Saleh Kamel said the venture is still in discussions with Qatar to obtain a licence.

Retakaful firm Best Re sees growth in Africa, South America

Sharia-compliant reinsurer Best Re will grow its business in Africa and eventually expand into South America to diversify its sources of income which is mainly derived from Asia.
Asia, specifically countries such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia, accounts for three-quarters of Best Re's income and the company wants to bring this share to about 60 percent within five years.

Amanah Raya to help set up Islamic bank in Kazakhstan

Malaysian trustee company Amanah Raya Berhad is joining forces with Fattah Finance and the state-owned Development Bank of Kazakhstan to conduct a feasibility study to establish the second Islamic bank in the CIS country. Their purpose is to submit an application for an Islamic-banking license later this year under new legislation introduced by Kazakhstan in 2009 to facilitate the establishment of Islamic banks and the introduction of Islamic financial products in the country.

Arcapita to conduct rights issue

The investment firm Arcapita has said it is conducting a rights issue to raise fresh funds from shareholders, as it prepares to refinance a $1.1bn loan due next year.
The firm also plans to market the rights issue to new institutional investors in the Gulf region, Malaysia and other parts of Asia.

Elaf Bank to arrange sukuk in Southeast Asia

Jamil El-Jaroudi, chief executive of Bahrain-based Elaf Bank, has unveiled plans to arrange Islamic bonds in South East Asia.
The Islamic investment bank won a mandate to act as financial advisor on sukuk issues in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Prominent Saudi scholar warns on agenda against Shariah advisories

Malaysia adopted on Jan. 1 a new Shariah Governance Framework (SGF) for Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) that supersedes the Guidelines on the Governance of Shariah Committees of IFIs introduced by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).
One prominent international Shariah advisory to the Islamic finance industry, Muhammed Elgari of Saudi Arabia, agrees that Malaysia’s Shariah Governance Framework for IFIs could become a blueprint for other countries to follow.

Malaysia Debt Ventures to focus on Islamic finance

MALAYSIA Debt Ventures Bhd (MDV) will focus more of its activities on Islamic financing this year
The company was determined to support the government's effort to promote Islamic finance and use the funds raised from sukuk issues to finance development projects.

Amanah Raya plans Kazakhstan Islamic bank in 2012

Malaysian trustee firm Amanah Raya Bhd expects to obtain licences to set up Kazakhstan’s second Islamic bank in the second quarter of 2011 and begin operating the lender within a year.
Amanah Raya would have a 55 per cent stake in the joint venture company to be set up, state-run Development Bank of Kazakhstan will own 40 per cent and brokerage Fattah Finance the balance.

Gulf borrowers tap Malaysia for sukuk sales

Arabian Gulf borrowers are selling ringgit-denominated Islamic bonds at a record pace in Malaysia to raise funds for expansion and take advantage of demand in the world’s biggest market for Shariah-compliant bonds.
Dubai’s government is “likely” to sell bonds next year and a Malaysian offering is a possibility.

BNM consults market on Shariah parameter for Istisna contracts

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) published last week the draft of its latest Shariah consultation on Islamic financial products, the "Concept Paper of Shariah Parameter Reference 5: Istisna Contract (SPR5)". SPR5 is aimed at becoming the true source of reference on the nature and features of the Istisna contract for the Islamic financial services industry and to facilitate the consistent implementation of the contract in the Malaysian financial market.

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