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Setting a sustainable foundation for financial reporting in #GCC

Across the world, organisations can no longer define success or efficiency solely on the merit of financial results or revenue earned. Reporting is still very much driven by numbers, and performance is measured in terms of hard outcomes, rather than the more qualitative aspects. An integrated approach asks the management of an organisation to consider a wide variety of capitals — beyond financial and manufactured capital. The concept is fairly new to the GCC, sustainability has become a major focus for businesses and organisations of all kinds. Today, sustainability cannot be separated from other business practices and needs to be fully integrated into each function within the organisation.

Proposed economic crime offence may lead to senior manager prosecutions, say lawyers

Lawyers have warned that failure to prevent economic crime could lead to more senior individuals being prosecuted for misconduct. The UK government's proposed legislation could lead to deferred prosecution agreements with the Serious Fraud Office. The involved companies would potentially give evidence against individuals implicated in misconduct. According to Judith Seddon, partner at Clifford Chance, the corporate criminal liability will provide for an additional serious consequence of failing to satisfy existing requirements for anti-money laundering and financial crime prevention.

Bahrain's GFH sells remaining 18 pct of Leeds United

A Dubai-based subsidiary of Islamic investment bank GFH Financial Group has sold its remaining 18 % stake in English football club Leeds United, ending nearly 4 years of Middle Eastern involvement in the club. GFH Capital sold the stake to Eleonora Sport, operated by Italian businessman Massimo Cellino. Eleonora now owns 100 % of the club, Leeds United said.

GFH bought Leeds United in December 2012 but within months began looking for new investment in the club, and in 2014 Cellino bought a majority stake in it. GFH Financial did not reveal the price at which it sold its remaining stake but said the deal would reflect positively on its financials and liquidity for 2016. Crippled during the global credit crisis in 2008, GFH Financial went through several debt restructurings but has resumed expanding in the financial services sector. In August it signed a memorandum of understanding to buy most of Bahrain's Bank Al Khair.

Opinion: Halal and Tayyib – the next wave

If we look back at the emergence of the Muslim Lifestyle markets as a global phenomenon, we can see an interesting pattern developing. From 2004 - 2007, Malaysia was the epicenter of the Halal movement, bringing the terms ‘Halal market’ and ‘Halal industry’ into the global business vocabulary. Bidding to become a global Halal hub, the development of their Halal food sector made Malaysia a role model for other countries looking to position themselves in this fast-growing marketplace. Abdalhamid David Evans, Founder, HalalFocus.net/ImaratConsultants.com, will be speaking about this topic at the Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016 in Event City, Manchester on the 30 October 2016.

60 stock exchanges sign up to UNCTAD sustainability initiative

According to the UNCTAD-backed Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative nearly 60 stock exchanges, representing more than 70% of listed equity markets, and some 30,000 companies with a market capitalization of over $55trn, have now made a commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Stock exchanges can take concrete steps on five of the 17 SDGs, adopted by UN Member States in September 2015. These goals include work on gender, decent work and economic growth, responsible production and consumption, climate change, and global partnerships. The initiative's 2016 progress report notes that financial markets could do more to support achievement of the SDGs.

Islamic financing costs limit use in public projects

The high transaction costs involved in Islamic financing are likely to limit its use in funding infrastructure projects in Kenya. According to a new study commissioned by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) Islamic financing is deemed to be expensive. This fact is corroborated by the case study of Lekki project which utilised a loan financing scheme that attracts huge transaction costs paid by the special purpose company in terms of 1.5-4.0% one-off administration fees and notary fees. The working paper also recommended that a national Sharia board be set up so as to set standards for Islamic finance.

SECP drafting Shariah regulatory framework: Hijazi

The Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) is in the process of drafting a Shariah regulatory framework. Addressing at the second day of "World Islamic Finance Forum" (WIFF), SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi said SECP has established a full-fledged Islamic finance department to co-ordinate the Islamic finance initiative. He said SECP is fully supporting Shariah compliant business and the government has implemented the SECP's tax proposal for offering Sukuk. SECP is currently working on harmonisation and standardisation of regulations for a uniform regulatory environment. The commission has an independent Shariah Advisory Board to review product development and adjudicate on Shariah matters.

Dar suggests investment in research to Islamise economy

Speaking at the World Islamic Finance Forum, Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar suggested investing in research in order to Islamise the whole economic system of the country. He said Islamic finance industry leaders should play an active role in promoting the industry. At the same time, the leaders should not remain complacent with the traditional model, but should help the finance industry evolve and innovate products based on Shariah compliance. Dar said economic growth in Pakistan had crossed 4% and had remained steady at 5% this year. This growth rate is expected to accelerate to 7% in fiscal year 2017-18. Later referring to a BBC report, he said Pakistan would become the 18th largest economy of the world by 2050 from the current 44th position.

IRTI, Thomson Reuters and IBA launch new study on the outlook of Islamic finance in #Pakistan

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), Thomson Reuters and the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) launched the Pakistan Islamic Finance Report titled "Innovation at Asia’s Crossroads". The ceremony, which took place in Karachi, was attended by senior government officials, market executives and industry professionals. The report highlights that the Islamic capital market sector registered a double-digit growth rate in the past decade, recorded mostly by Islamic mutual funds. In all Islamic finance industry segments, finance professionals and investors maintain a positive economic outlook, and Islamic finance institutions have built strong fundamentals.

Islamic Finance: Demand for more shariah-compliant products

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.

Regulators to play in 'sandbox' with infant #fintech firms

In #Indonesia fintech startups will be invited to a safe space where they can test any service under the supervision of the central bank before it issues regulations and allows full authorization. The safe space, known as a "regulatory sandbox", has been adopted in many countries around the world. The central bank will also set up a designated fintech office to overlook the sandbox. The Indonesian Fintech Association applauded the planned sandbox approach as it will serve as a tangible platform for all fintech initiatives to be tested into the regulatory system. The association's secretary-general Karaniya Dharmasaputra said this concept was a good one as shown by many countries implementing it toward success.

Islamic Finance’s total assets will reach $2.1 trillion by year-end, says S&P

S&P Global Ratings believes that the drop in Islamic finance growth is likely to continue in 2017. Nevertheless, it estimates the industry’s total assets will reach $2.1 trillion at year-end 2016. S&P Global Head of Islamic Finance Mohamed Damak said Islamic finance will maintain growth of around 5% in 2017. The oil price environment will weigh negatively on economic growth in the GCC for the next two years. A broader consensus around the need to standardize legal structures and Sharia interpretation could help the industry to progress. Another great help could be the industry’s potential contribution to the United Nation’s sustainable development financing goals.

Islamic banking has capacity of 40m people to explore in #Pakistan

State Bank of Pakistan Deputy Governor Saeed Ahmed said that there is a dire need to create awareness to promote Islamic banking. According to the Global Islamic Finance Report (GIFR) 2016, Pakistan ranks ninth in terms of development of Islamic financial services industry. However, there is still a capacity of 40 million more people in the banking market that the Islamic finance sector can explore. In June the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) noted that the Islamic banking industry had witnessed a growth of 7.4% in April to June quarter. Its assets reached Rs 1,745 billion while its deposits also increased by 9.3%. This shows a market capitalisation of 13.2%. There is still room to grow and the Islamic financing institutions can increase their operations and market shares.

Stability, of a Sort: #Turkey’s Islamic Bonds

Islamic entities known as participation banks offer bonds with potentially greater upside and more stability than standard government debt. According to a recent report from Standard & Poor’s, participation banks doubled their share of the country’s overall banking assets to about 5% between 2005 to 2015. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for further integration of Islamic law into all walks of life means participation banks are likely to grow. The system’s assets could reach some $300 billion by 2025, according to the Participation Banks Association of Turkey.

As Raghuram Rajan departs, RBI opens door to Islamic finance

India's central bank has proposed working with the government to introduce interest-free banking. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made the proposal last week, as departing central bank governor Raghuram Rajan hands over the reins to Urjit Patel. Development of Islamic finance has been slow in India because of strong opposition from bureaucrats and politicians from the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. An estimated 180 million Muslims have been unable to access Islamic banking because of laws that require banking to be based on interest. The RBI said it would explore introducing interest-free banking products in consultation with the government, a key detail as this opens the prospects of supportive legislation.

Islamic banking in Africa

The African market for Islamic banking is unique for several reasons. The continent is witnessing an unprecedented economic growth in the last decade. Return on investment in Africa is higher than in any other developing region. Moreover, Islamic banking in Africa is supported by a growing openness and acceptability by many regulators and politicians. There is growing interest from sovereign states in issuing sukuk and countries such as South Africa, Senegal Ivory Coast and Togo have already tested the international market. At the same time, there is a need to be aware of the challenges facing the industry and how the associated risks can be mitigated. African regulators need to adopt the right policies and increase the level of cooperation. They should work closely with the multinational financial institutions such as the Islamic Development Bank, the African Development Bank and the World Bank.

Mohammad Faiz new Islamic Finance Consultative Group Chairman

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has appointed Datuk Mohammad Faiz Azmi as chairman of the Islamic Finance Consultative Group. Commenting on his appointment, Mohammad Faiz said he hoped to be able to continue the good work of the IASB in the area of global finance. He appreciates IASB's commitment in helping the emerging markets adopt their International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst said Mohammad Faiz had always been a valued member of the IFRS community and is renowned for his expertise in Islamic Finance.

Here are the 3 major concerns of #fintech industry players in #Indonesia

Together with Fintech Indonesia Association, Deloitte released the Fintech Survey 2016 at the Indonesia Fintech Festival & Conference 2016. Conducted between June to August 2016, the survey interviewed 70 respondents from various Indonesian fintech companies. 27 different types of fintech companies participated in the survey. All of them shared three major concerns. A great number of fintech players agreed that the current regulatory process is "not so clear." Another pressing matter faced by Indonesian fintech players is talent shortage. The third concern is the local market’s low levels of financial education. Ironically, this problem happens not only among members of the general public but also among players in the conventional finance industry.

Fraudulent investment dressed up with religious symbols: Police

In #Indonesia the National Police have warned the public to be on guard against fraudulent investment companies. Criminal Investigation Department director Agung Setya said investors who understood investment often fell prey to fraudsters because of greed, while other were lured by religious symbols and public figures. He cited as an example the 2007 Gama Smart Karya Utama case and the 2012 Langit Biru cooperative case, in which the founders claimed to be spiritual leaders. Data show that fraudulent investments lead to billions of rupiah in losses per year. In 2007, losses amounted to Rp 16.13 trillion (US$1.21 billion), but decreased to Rp 604 billion in 2008. In 2011 and 2012, losses rose to Rp 68.62 trillion and Rp 10.22 trillion, respectively, but declined to Rp 235 billion (2014) and 285 billion (2015).

#Saudi builder Khodari renews $35.2m Islamic facility

Saudi Arabian construction firm Abdullah Abdul Mohsin Al Khodari and Sons has renewed an existing 132 million riyal (Dh129.2 million, $35.2 million) Islamic credit facility with Samba Financial Group. The facility will provide bonding commitments as well as capital and working capital requirements for projects and general business. Credit limits for projects covered by the facility will range from 36 to 60 months. Khodari has also won a 69 million riyal contract from the kingdom’s Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture for the maintenance of water networks. The financial impact of the project is expected to start in the third quarter.

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