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Islamic finance education gains momentum in UK

The launch of Europe’s first dedicated Islamic Finance and business Center at a mainstream British university, Aston Business School, which is part of Aston University in Birmingham, underlines the growing Islamic finance education industry in and out of the UK.

The El Shaarani Islamic Finance and Business Center, named after its benefactor El Shaarani, CEO of Surgi-Tech Group in Dubai, aims to establish Birmingham as the center for Islamic finance in the UK.

The global growth of Islamic finance and the UK banks’ long involvement in the sector since the early 1980s, has encouraged professional bodies, academic institutions and some private entities to set up Islamic finance courses ranging from certificates, diplomas, undergraduate, masters and post-graduate degrees in Islamic finance and economics.

Islamic finance gaining major support in Britain

“Islamic finance is, and will continue to be, an important part of the government’s overall commitment to ensuring a competitive financial services sector in the UK,” reiterated Sarah McCarthy-Fry MP, exchequer secretary to Treasury, in London at a seminar entitled “New Year — New Opportunities in Islamic Finance,” hosted by the international law firm, Norton Rose, in London recently.

This statement of intent coincides with two notable developments relevant to the European Islamic finance sector in the last two weeks or so. Firstly, the UK Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) have been working to remove barriers and uncertainty in the regulation of alternative finance investment bonds (sukuk).

Following consultation with the industry, the statutory instrument, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 Order 2010, was sent to the House of Commons in mid-January, and the Brown government is confident that the new regulations will come into effect by the end of February. These measures, stressed McCarthy-Fry, will reduce compliance and legal costs for these instruments, and facilitate the issuance of corporate sukuk in the UK.

Total provisions booked by GCC banks since start of crisis reached $11.7b

In a presentation for the performance of the GCC banking sector, KIPCO Asset Management Company (KAMCO) Research Department presents a detailed analysis for the financial statements for 58 banks with the purpose of shedding the light on the repercussions of the crisis on the financial position of the banking sector in the GCC Region which represents a key sector for any country's economy.

Moreover, total provisions booked by the GCC banking sector since the start of the financial crisis in September 2008, have reached USD 11.7 billion of which USD 4.72 billion or 40% booked by Kuwaiti banks. It is worth noting that the provisions of Gulf Bank reached USD 1.76 billion, representing 37% of the total provisions booked by Kuwaiti banks since the start of the financial crisis in Sep-08.

Malaysia Needs Vibrant Stock Market For Islamic Finance Growth

Malaysia needs to develop a vibrant stock market to attract asset flow and support the growth of Islamic finance, first holder of the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) chair of Islamic finance, Dr Abbas Mirakhor, said Friday.

Dawood Islamic Bank opens branches

Dawood Islamic Bank, Pakistan’s only double AA rated bank has completed its hat trick by inaugurating three more branches in Lahore.

Source: 

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\01\27\story_27-1-2010_pg5_3

Qatar's Masraf al Rayan sees Q4 profits up 30%

Masraf al Rayan, Qatar's fourth largest bank by market value, reported a fourth quarter profit of $76.96 million, an increase of 30 percent over the same period in 2008, according to Reuters calculations.

Bahrain bourse, Bursa Malaysia sign Islamic finance MoU

The Bahrain Financial Exchange and Bursa Malaysia signed an agreement to study a common platform on which Islamic finance products such as commodity murabahas can be traded. Malaysia's stock exchange launched a platform last year on which murabaha, an Islamic money market instrument, can be traded using palm oil as the underlying commodity.

Total provisions booked by GCC banks since start of crisis reached $11.7b

KIPCO Asset Management Company (KAMCO) Research Department had carried out a presentation of the performance of GCC banking sector by analysing the financial statements for 58 banks with the purpose of shedding the light on the repercussions of the crisis on the financial position of the banking sector in the GCC Region which represents a key sector for any country's economy and the analysis revealed as follows:
During 2008, GCC banks have witnessed record levels of provision for doubtful loans where together recorded total provisions of USD 7.1 billion. Provisions booked during FY 2008 represent a notable 243% increase from those booked during 2007 which recorded USD 2.1 billion, while provisions that had been booked during 2006 recorded USD 1.44 billion

Statement from Dubai Bank

Dubai Bank confirmed today that its current Chief Executive Officer, Salaam Al Shaksy, will be leaving the Dubai-based Shari'a-compliant financial institution to assume the role of Chief Executive Officer at National Bank of Oman.

Moody's downgrades Aldar to Baa2, ratings kept on review

Moody's Investors Service today downgraded the ratings for Aldar Properties PJSC (Aldar), the Trust Certificates (sukuk) issued by Sukuk Funding (No. 2) Limited and the guaranteed Notes issued by Atlantic Finance Limited, to Baa2 from A3. Ratings have been kept on review for further possible downgrade as part of the ongoing review of government support for Abu Dhabi and UAE corporates initiated by Moody's on December 9, 2009.

Brunei Battles Credit Card Debt With Tighter Rules

Financial regulators in Brunei have placed restrictions on how small the amounts credit card issuers can set for monthly repayment of credit card debts, according to a directive from the country’s Ministry of Finance. Cardholder incomes also will determine credit card spending limits, the directive states.

Saudi's Al Rajhi Bank wins first place in 'Competitiveness for Responsibility' awards

For the second year in a row Al Rajhi Bank has achieved first place ahead of 80 other large Saudi companies participating at the Saudi "Competitiveness for Responsibility" awards. Held as part of the Global Competitiveness Forum activities, the ceremony honouring the participants was organised by Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority with the support of the King Khalid Charitable Foundation.

Noor units set to launch online social forum

Noor Investment Group's Noor Islamic Bank and Noor Takaful announced the creation of a new social media online forum shapeyourcountry.com to connect people living in the UAE across nationalities, age and econ-omic status, as well as Emiratis residing abroad.

Key Islamic finance standards published

Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), the international standard-setting organisation for Islamic finance, has published its new standards publications. It is entitled Sharia Standards 2010 and Accounting, Auditing, and Governance Standards 2010. The Sharia Standards 2010 publication contains 41 Sharia standards including 11 new standards.

Philippines to miss Islamic finance boom in Asia this year

DEBT WATCHER Standard & Poor’s said Islamic finance growth will stay strong this year, as demand for financial products that comply with Islamic or Sharia law continues to increase with Southeast Asia driving expansion.

The Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank wants to educate the public of the difference between Islamic Banking and Conventional Banking while creating the regulatory framework for Islamic Finance and ironing out the taxation issues relating to islamic finance.

Jamsostek's subsidiary to acquire local sharia banks

State insurance company PT Jamsostek plans to acquire stakes in two local sharia banks this year through a joint agreement with the Jeddah-based Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD).

The new investment arm of the company, the Jamsostek Investment Company (JIC), expected to be established in the first semester of this year, will purchase the stake of the country's biggest sharia lender BNI Syariah and Bank Syariah Bukopin by the end of this year, Jamsostek president director Hotbonar Siaga said on Friday.

Khurshid backs Islamic banking concept of Kerala

The Centre has offered a helping hand to Kerala in revoking a stay order by the state high court against setting up of an Islamic bank.

Noting that the court order could hamper investment opportunities in the country, Union minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid said the Centre would coordinate with the state government in dealing with the issue legally.

The Kerala government cleared the project after a feasibility study found that Islamic bank was a viable proposition in Kerala. A company was also registered to take the process forward. The share capital of the proposed bank had been fixed at Rs 1,000 crore.

According to the Islamic banking concept, the bank will not pay any interest to customers. A Sharia board can decide what sort of investments the bank can make. The bank will also have Sharia-compliant banking products.

Profits made out of the investments will be distributed to shareholders.

Sharia banking grows strong in Indonesia

The people of West Java also showed their support by injecting Rp 106 billion into the bank. Although its business was not too bright in its early days, the bank recorded a profit of Rp 372.5 billion in the second quarter of 2009. The achievement of Bank Muamalat is proof of the great potential of sharia banking in Indonesia. Sharia banking is based on Islamic law.

Bank Indonesia data reveals there are currently five sharia banks operating in the country, namely Bank Syariah Mandiri, Bank Muamalat Indonesia, Bank Syariah Mega, Bank Syariah Bukopin and Bank Syariah BRI. Twenty-six other banks have sharia banking units, such as Bank Permata, Bank BNI, Bank CIMB-Niaga, Bank Danamon and BPD DKI.

The Acting Governor of Bank Indonesia said that banks based on Islamic law are predicted to enjoy further growth in 2010. Darmin added that sharia banks would continue to flourish due to the organic growth within existing banks and the establishment of new sharia banks and unit.

Is foreign investment the answer to Iraq's banking needs?

A muscular banking sector will make or break whether Iraq is to rebuild and prosper.

Iraq's financial architecture to support a growing, privatised economy is a bottom-up operation. The country remains a cash economy with a thriving black market. Private banks are thin on the ground, lending is sparse and there is no ingrained credit culture.

Local focus

In terms of commercial banking in the country, the landscape is principally local Iraqi banks and joint-venture banks. Products offered are in four main areas: remittances/cash transfers and some foreign exchange; trade finance; commercial lending; and securities and stockmarket trading. Activity in all of these areas is fairly limited.

Lending potential

France seeks Islamic financial system

The laicist French government seeks to make amendments to laws improving Islamic finance investors access to France. Although a relevant draft law was turned down by the Constitutional Council in form, but not in content, French Minister of Economy, Industry and Employment Christine Lagrade made it certain that the government would work further. The French minister's advisor Thierry Dissaux told KUNA that the government would introduce amendments to French legal and tax systems in order to match Islamic financial principles.

According to recent studies, Islamic financial investments in France are estimated at roughly USD 120 billion.

Talal al-Kandari reported on Kuna.

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