Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) and Bahrain’s GFH Financial Group are jointly setting up an Islamic bank in Abu Dhabi’s new financial free zone with initial capital of $100 mn. ADFG's CEO Jassim Al Seddiqi said the bank will open very soon, it will be run as a commercial bank accepting offshore deposits and dealing in dollars. ADFG has recently raised its stake in GFH to 11.74% from 10% and the two firms are seeking other joint opportunities for the future.
GFH Financial Group plans to list its Bahraini subsidiary Khaleeji Commercial Bank in Dubai and acquire a financial services company to increase shareholder value. GFH's CEO Hisham al-Rayes said the company wants to regarded by investors as a financial holding company rather than an investment bank. The company aims to generate around 15% of its income over the next two years from real estate investments, which will be managed by a new Dubai-based operation called GFH Real Estate.
The Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) announced the sale of Bank Asya shares for June 24. The TMSF will sell 183.6 million of the total 360 million preference shares, pricing each share for TL 0.70 ($0.23). This represents 51% of the total preference shares, that is the controlling power of the bank. According to the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) the troubles in Bank Asya's financial structure, administration and operations pose risks to depositors as well as the security and stability of the financial system.
Bank Islam #Malaysia has denied rumours that its managing director Zukri Samat would be replaced. Chairperson Zamani Abdul Ghani said the board had decided to renew Zukri’s service contract. His re-appointment has also been approved by Bank Negara Malaysia. Zamani expressed hope that Bank Islam’s staff would continue to give their full support to Zukri.
Saudi Arabia may need to change its currency's peg to the U.S. dollar if economic conditions shift. The riyal's peg at 3.75 to the dollar has been a cornerstone of Saudi policy since 1986. But the collapse of oil prices since 2014, which created a $100 billion state budget deficit, has fuelled speculation in financial markets. Foreign bankers said Saudi authorities had explored the idea of changing the peg in a broad review of economic policy. They concluded that a change would be counter-productive now but conceivable in the far future.
The Swiss start-up Monetas claims a new mobile phone payment technology will transform people’s lives in Africa. The Tunisian National Post invited the Swiss firm to pilot its technology in October in conjunction with local firm DigitUs. Once all integrations with the existing e-dinar system are finalised, the Monetas system will first target retailers before reaching out to the general population. Monetas has big plans for expansion, having started exploratory talks with 12 other African nations with a combined population of 300 million. It is also developing savings accounts and is looking into other financial services, such as micro credits.
The Financial Services Authority (OJK) is considering providing a legal basis for Islamic real estate investment trustees (REITs), hoping that it will attract more property investors, especially from the Middle East. OJK deputy director of sharia market Muhammad Touriq said Takaful companies are interested in investing in the REITs, but have failed to do so as the existing REITs are not sharia-compliant. The Indonesian government is working on an incentive for the Islamic REITs that allows investors to pay only 0.5% income tax. So far 11 developers have expressed their interest including Ciputra, Summarecon and Ciptadana Asset Management.
Azerbaijan and Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) will discuss the opportunities of financing the country's agriculture. The topic will be discussed by ICD's general driector Khaled Al-Aboodiin during his visit in Baku on May 31. The agricultural projects will be financed through the new Food and Agribusiness Fund with an authorized capital of $600 million. The fund will mainly focus on the production optimization of the companies working in agriculture and a decrease in their logistics inefficiency.
The U.S. startup scene has been marked in recent years by an influx of money from venture capitalists. Despite the free-flowing cash, some Muslim entrepreneurs feel they have been excluded, particularly those whose startups focus on the Muslim market. There are fashion startups, food startups, and finance startups. There’s a career website known as Executive Muslim in the works. The Muslim community is diverse, so startups in the market can’t approach consumers with a one-size-fits-all mentality. Many of these companies rely on their networks to promote products, advertising in mosques and online communities. Affinis Labs founder Shahed Amanullah argues that focusing solely on the Muslim consumer isn’t scaleable. If companies appeal to a wider base, everyone wins.
The fates of 1MDB bonds are diverging this month: those guaranteed by Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund have rallied, while notes with support from Malaysia’s own government have dropped. 1MDB's 4.4% 2023 notes, backed by the government, slumped 6.4% in May, set for the worst slide in 16 months. The fund’s 5.99% 2022 bonds, backed by Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment gained 1.9%. The contrast reflects growing investor concern about the Malaysian government backing as Najib grapples with an economy forecast to expand at the slowest pace in seven years amid a collapse in oil prices.
The Indonesian Economist Association (ISEI) and the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) have drafted a new scheme to improve the income of 1 mn farmers in various commodity industries by 2020. PISAgro, which stands for Partnership for Indonesia's Sustainable Agriculture, aims to reach more than 445,000 farmers in 2016. ISEI chairman Muliaman Hadad said farmers were currently experiencing stagnant productivity from inadequate access to finance, as well as good quality seeds and fertilizers. Kadin chairman Rosan Roeslani said the program would give support in plantation infrastructure, provision of seeds and fertilizers, mentoring and the strict implementation of good farming practices.
Central banks need to have a stronger role in setting regulations for the region’s Islamic banks. Abdulrahman Al Hamidy, the head of the Arab Monetary Fund, said regulators need to introduce new liquidity management tools. The region’s central banks have moved to offer Islamic banks new, Sharia-compliant liquidity facilities to help shore up their short-term financial positions. The UAE Central Bank introduced a Sharia-compliant short-term lending facility in March last year. It allows banks to sell and repurchase Sharia-compliant securities overnight at profit.
New bond issuance has swept the Gulf but there is still not enough volume to support the number of banks vying for the business. The number of banks hired to run deals in the Middle East is shooting up from the typical five or six arrangers. Qatar has hired 10 banks for an upcoming trade, DP World and Emirates Islamic Bank nine each while Noor Bank seven. For investors, having so many banks makes deals more cumbersome and potentially cuts into the allocation if each bank brings its own buyers.
Russia’s VEB development bank plans to announce its first deals with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in the near future. VEB Chairman Sergey Gorkov said the bank may announce particular transactions in the autumn this year. However, there are several opposite viewpoints regarding the partnership. Russia’s Federation Council deputy speaker Yevgeny Bushmin said that the Central Bank and the Russian legislation are not prepared for promotion of Islamic banking in the country.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has committed US$5.2 billion worth of loans until 2020 to aid Indonesia’s priority development projects. Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said the prioritized sectors include energy, transportation, urban development, higher education and skills development, private sector development and Islamic financial broadening. The IDB will work with other lenders, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Going forward, the IDB will prioritize efforts to shift away from dependency on commodities.
Nazir Razak, the brother of Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by an independent investigation undertaken by CIMB Group. Nazir voluntarily took a leave of absence to allow an independent review to be carried out after it was revealed that he had transferred cash to the ruling coalition's politicians in the run-up to the Malaysian general elections in 2013. Although he admitted to transferring the money, Nazir insisted he did nothing illegal. Nazir has now resumed his role as CIMB Group chairman and CIMB Bank director.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is planning to establish the Islamic Infrastructure Bank, which would be led by Indonesia and Turkey. Indonesia plans to spend US$300 mn on equity participation in the project. However, Turkey has committed to surpass Indonesia’s capital in a bid to bring the new bank’s headquarters to Ankara. Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla expressed his support for the Islamic Infrastructure Bank. The IDB has recently elected Bandar bin Mohammed bin Hamza Asaad Al Hajjar as its new president, following the retirement of Ahmad Mohamed Ali. Bandar will hold the position for a five-year term.
In the face of plummeting oil prices, Saudi Arabia has announced an economic strategy to shake off Saudi overreliance on fossil fuels. In the 'Saudi Vision 2030' Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman proposed changes to generate $100 bn in additional non-oil revenue by 2020. In order to do that, the 30-year-old monarch plans to restructure Saudi Aramco, the state oil company. Less than 5% of Aramco’s stake would undergo an initial public offering, with an expected value of $2 trillion. The ownership of the rest to the company would be transferred to Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Investment Fund (PIF). Prince Mohammed also called for the private sector to grow to 60% from the current 40%. Government services like education, health care and airports will be transferred to the private sector. As the country adjusts to the transition, economic growth is expected to slow as private sector expands.
Arian Ardie talks about the burgeoning Indonesian economy, foreign investment opportunities, and how Indonesian companies are coming to terms with anti-corruption compliance. Meeting cultural norms and being compliant with international business practices is a real challenge in Indonesia. As one of the most populous countries in the world, Indonesia shows an inherent 'sloppiness' of implementing decentralization and democracy.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will take part in financing of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project. The estimated cost of the project will exceed $10 bn. The annual capacity of the gas pipeline will reach 33 bn cubic meters. It is planned that the total length of the TAPI pipeline will be 1,814 km. Some 214 km will pass through the territory of Turkmenistan, 774 km through Afghanistan, 826 km through Pakistan. The project is expected to be completed in late 2019.