Perak’s Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah told Islamic financial scholars and ulama to “think futuristically” in order to be current with contemporary developments. He said they can act as “institutional game-changers” in helping Islamic finance grow, but must leave their “ivory towers” and become more involved in the industry. Sultan Nazrin added that no industry was immune to “social evolution”, making it necessary for these scholars to make the effort to produce relevant financial products. He also said that it was important to inform the public more on the role of Shariah advisors in finance as their endorsement of an institution meant that it complied with the Islamic beliefs.
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) plans to launch the Islamic Fund and Wealth Management Blueprint by July to strengthen Malaysia’s competitive position in the global Islamic financial sector. SC chairman Datuk Seri Ranjit Ajit Singh said the SC was in the final stages of formulating the blueprint, which would be launched by the first half of the year and the action plan rolled out over five years. First announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at Invest Malaysia in April last year, the action plan aims to chart the medium- and long-term strategic direction for the industry as well as map out strategies to strengthen the country’s Islamic capital market.
Axiata Group Bhd’s 10-year US$500mil Sukuk received strong response with a final book of over US$900mil orders. The telco company said this was a bid-to-cover ratio of over 1.8 times, and a final yield of 4.357%. The bookbuilding exercise commenced with an initial price guidance of US Treasuries (“UST”) + 2.60% area. Demand for the Sukuk issuance led to a final price guidance of UST + 2.45% area ± 0.05% at Asian close/London mid with books in excess of US$1.4bil. The Sukuk would be issued by its Malaysian-incorporated special purpose vehicle, Axiata SPV2 Bhd. Proceeds of the Sukuk Issuance will be utilised to fund the proposed acquisition of Ncell Pvt. Ltd.
National mortgage corporation Cagamas Bhd is issuing its second Singapore dollar-denominated sukuk worth S$150mil. The sukuk, to be issued through subsidiary Cagamas Global Sukuk Bhd, will be fully and unconditionally guaranteed by Cagamas. The issuance, with a maturity of one year, comes under Cagamas’ US$2.5bil multicurrency sukuk issuance programme. The proceeds of the sukuk will be used to fund the purchase of Islamic home financing from the financial system. The issuance will bring the company’s aggregate issuance for this year to RM3.2bil.
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) will launch the Islamic fund and wealth management blueprint sometime this year, in a bid to firmly establish Malaysia as an international Islamic capital market centre. The blueprint, which is formulated by the SC, will chart the medium to long term strategic direction for the industry as well as map out strategies and recommendations to strengthen Malaysia's competitive edge, said the SC. The strategies are expected to reinforce the industry's sustainability and will include, among others, strengthening global capabilities of market intermediaries and seizing new market opportunities.
Falcon Private Bank Ltd. on Wednesday sought to distance itself from a controversy involving a Malaysian state fund caught up in allegations of political corruption, saying the transactions it carried out were based on purely commercial terms. Several Swiss banks, including Falcon, have come under scrutiny for transactions involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund, or 1MDB. Among the transactions that are being investigated by authorities in Switzerland and Malaysia is the transfer of $681 million to the private account of Najib Razak, Malaysian Prime Minister.
Maybank Islamic Bhd is focused on ensuring a healthy capital and liquidity buffer in the face of the current economic challenges. Chief executive officer Datuk Muzaffar Hisham said Islamic banking and financial institutions as such, need strong, effective and sustainable risk management strategies. He also said the risk management helps to evaluate risks and formulate mitigating action. In terms of assets and financing outlook, Muzaffar said Maybank Islamic expects to see between nine and 10 per cent growth this year as compared with about 18-19 per cent year-on-year in 2015. For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2015, Maybank Islamic’s total assets exceeded US$36 billion, while gross financing reached RM131.1 billion, with deposits at RM123.4 billion.
Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) is enjoying a twin boost as commodity prices rally and Islamic bond costs fall just as it considers borrowing. The difference in yield between 10-year government sukuk and two-year securities shrank to a five-month low of 91 basis points last week from as high as 128 in early January, making longer-term financing attractive for issuers such as Petronas. That’s been helped by record foreign purchases of ringgit government bonds last month, a rally in the currency and a recovery in Brent crude. Petronas last month posted its third loss in five quarters, announced plans to cut 1,000 jobs and said it might need to raise funds and tap cash reserves to cover capital expenditure and dividends.
Hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia, organised by the RFI Foundation and co-organised by Middle East Global Advisors, the Responsible Finance Summit will take place on 30-31 March at Sasana Kijang, a center for knowledge and learning excellence established by Bank Negara Malaysia. The Summit has announced the support of SEDCO Capital, the Saudi firm that manages assets across a diversified spectrum of investments in real estate, equities and other businesses with a total AUM of $3.9 billion. The Summit will host a discussion between leaders in the Islamic finance and responsible investment to identify how to fully realise the emerging market responsible finance opportunity.
Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) provided more Islamic loans than non-Shariah compliant financing in Malaysia for the first time in 2015 and the business was also more profitable. Maybank Islamic Bhd contributed 51 per cent of loans by the nation's biggest lender, up from 44 per cent in 2014, and a share 10 to 20 percentage points higher is possible, chief executive officer Muzaffar Hisham said. The unit achieved an average 16 per cent return on equity in the last four years, compared with 14 per cent for its parent. Maybank Islamic's total financing rose 21 per cent to RM131.1 billion (S$44.2 billion) last year. Growth will probably moderate to less than 10 per cent in 2016.
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.
Malaysia plans to tap the global Islamic bond market for a second consecutive year, joining Indonesia that’s planning a sale in March. Banks have reportedly been asked to submit proposals by next week for a benchmark dollar-denominated offer. Malaysia sold $1.5bn of US currency sukuk in April 2015, its first international bond issuance since 2011. The ringgit is the best-performing emerging-market Asian currency over the past three months as exports have held up and the government managed to keep its budget deficit within target even as oil prices slumped. Indonesia plans to offer Shariah-compliant sovereign dollar notes in March.
Khazanah Nasional Bhd has priced a 5-year US$750mil (RM3.15bil) US dollar-denominated straight sukuk to refinance Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd guaranteed notes at a significantly lower cost. The USD sukuk will be issued via Danga Capital Bhd. The USD sukuk was priced at a profit rate of 3.035% following an accelerated bookbuilding process which attracted demand of 1.5x booksize from financial institutions, asset management companies, statutory bodies and insurance companies. Khazanah achieved its target issue size at a spread of 178 basis points above prevailing 5-year US Treasuries. CIMB and DBS Bank Ltd are the Joint Global Coordinators while CIMB, DBS Bank Ltd. and Standard Chartered Bank are Joint Bookrunner.
Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad is marketing five-year US dollar sukuk in the US Treasuries plus 190bp area. CIMB, DBS and Standard Chartered are lead managers for the deal that is expected to price today. The Reg S senior unsecured bonds will list in Malaysia and Singapore under English and Malaysian law. The sukuk will be issued through Danga Capital Berhad, a special purpose vehicle, with the SWF acting as obligor. They will be issued off a multi-currency Islamic securities issuance programme.
Malaysia’s Maybank Islamic Bhd says the investment account (IA) business is set to be a game changer for the group in its effort to boost earnings growth amid the subdued banking landscape. The Islamic lender, which has total assets worth close to RM147bil, will focus on its new mudarabah (profit-sharing) investment fund launched in July last year in view of the Islamic Financial Services Act (IFSA) 2013. Describing the IA business as “the evolution of the next phase of growth”, Maybank Islamic chief executive officer Datuk Muzaffar Hisham said that demand for the IA business has shot up significantly, as the value of its mudarabah fund rose to RM18bil in the last six months of 2015.
Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz is likely to leave when her term expires in April. Zeti said she had not received any request to stay on amid the current market volatility, a scenario which had fuelled speculation that her contract may be extended. She stressed that it was "very unlikely" for her term to be extended again, as the succession process is already underway. Zeti, who has served as governor for 16 years, was however tight-lipped on who her successor would be, saying she is not at liberty to discuss the matter. She, however, said the central bank will remain independent even with the appointment of a new governor. Zeti stressed that a politician should not be appointed as governor of the central bank.
A group of six Malaysian Islamic banks has launched a sharia-compliant investment platform that could shift the role of Islamic lenders to investment intermediaries from credit providers currently. The Investment Account Platform (IAP) will serve as a central marketplace to finance small and medium-sized businesses, with the Malaysian government backing the scheme with an initial RM150 million in funds. Chief executive Mohamed Izam Mohamed Yusof said they were looking at raising between RM200 million and RM300 million (US$47.53 million to US$71.29 million) through the IAP over the next two to three years. Its maiden project could be listed as early as next month, with future plans including listings in other currencies, he added.
The Responsible Finance Summit has announced the support of the International Shari'ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) for the Summit. The Summit, which will be hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia, will include the participation of ISRA's Executive Director Prof. Dr. Mohamad Akram Laldin, who will join a panel session on the popular perceptions about responsible finance and how Islamic finance can contribute to expanding its appeal to a wider audience. The Summit, organized by RFI Foundation and co-organized by Middle East Global Advisors, also represents a setting for ISRA to highlight its work in applied Shari'ah research on Islamic finance, particularly on ethical dimensions of Islamic finance.
A potential listing of Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd could be an option should its major shareholder DRB-Hicom Bhd fail to find a suitable suitor to buy up a stake in the bank. The requirement to pare down DRB-Hicom’s stake in Bank Mualamat is to comply with Bank Negara’s requirements from current 70% to 40%, which has been delayed for a few years. Last week, the proposed merger between Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) and Bank Muamalat was called off as the parties involved were not been able to reach an agreement on the terms and conditions. Disagreement over valuations and control were believed to be factors that led to the breakdown of negotiations that began last October.
Despite the emphasis on ethics, and the growth of the industry at a time when women are increasingly making their mark on the corporate world, the Islamic finance sector is incredibly male-dominated. In the Gulf region, where much of the sector is concentrated, there are no female Islamic scholars acting as advisors to financial institutions, a key position in the sector. While there are a few prominent women sitting on company boards and working as CEOs in Bahrain and Kuwait, they are notable exceptions. Clearly, this is in large part a result of cultural factors. But even in the UK, progress has been slow. However, there is one country where women are seizing plenty of top leadership roles: Malaysia.