Reuters

London judge postpones decision on Dana Gas #sukuk hearing

A London High Court judge will decide on Friday whether to continue proceedings on the validity of $700 million sukuk issued by Dana Gas. United Arab Emirates producer Dana Gas started proceedings in June to have its sukuk declared invalid and unlawful because of changes in the interpretation of Islamic finance. A last-minute injunction obtained by some shareholders prevented Dana Gas from participating in the trial. High Court judge George Leggatt on Tuesday adjourned the trial and decided to reserve judgement until Friday. The outcome of the trial could have significant repercussions for sukuk issuers and investors worldwide, as it could set a precedent for other issuers. The case is being disputed in UK and UAE courts because while the purchase undertaking is regulated by English law, the mudarabah agreement underlying the sukuk structure is regulated by UAE law.

#Algeria turns to Islamic finance, bourse to rescue 'worrying' economy

Algeria’s new government will introduce Islamic finance and develop its stock market to draw more investment into the economy. The country currently struggles to cope with a sharp fall in energy earnings. Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia plans wider reforms and the start of fracking for shale hydrocarbons to boost oil and gas revenue. Algeria's finances have been hit by a more than 50% drop in crude oil prices since mid-2014, the government said 2017 would end with real difficulties, while 2018 looked to be even more complex. Algeria has failed in the past to modernise its stock market and has a very low level of liquidity. Its firms currently rely on state finances, which in turn depend on the oil and gas sector. The government plans to continue spending cuts, including subsidies, but analysts say spending cuts alone may not be enough to tackle the crisis. Foreign exchange reserves fell to $105 billion in July this year from $193 billion in May 2014.

#UAE to reopen, #Kurdistan #deal to boost #Dana #Gas

The stock markets in the United Arab Emirates look likely to trade softly as they reopen on Monday after the Eid holidays, although Abu Dhabi's Dana Gas might just rise sharply after it reached an agreement on overdue payments from the government of Kurdistan.
The markets in the UAE are the only ones open in the Gulf. Others, like Egypt, will pick up trading later this week. There is no fresh, major corporate news in the UAE except Dana's settlement, which will see Kurdistan immediately pay Dana's consortium $1 billion, including $400 million that will be used for investment in the region. Dana will receive 35 percent of the money. In addition to Dana's share of the $600 million payment, "Future benefits to Dana Gas should be much larger, given the massive resource potential of the two fields, Khor Mor and Chemchemal. Dana Gas's share of 2P reserves in the two fields amounts to close to 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent, with huge upside", said Allen Sandeep, head of research at Cairo-based Naeem Brokerage. He continuid: "Overall, we view this as a major positive development for Dana Gas."

Gotta have faith: The rise of #religious #ETFs

There is a growing number of faith-based exchange-traded funds that attempt to marry moneymaking with religious principles. In the spring, Silicon Valley-based Inspire Investing launched its Global Hope Large Cap and its Small/Mid Cap Impact ETFs, pledging to apply Christian values as a screen. Those products join Global X’s Catholic Values ETF, which applies the investment guidelines of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Inspire’s funds have garnered a respectable $80 million in their first six months and CEO Robert Netzly believes that biblically responsible investing will be the fastest-growing investment niche over the next decade. Investment giant Blackrock offers Islamic-oriented ETFs that are shariah-compliant. There are not any specifically Jewish-themed ETFs at the moment, but this can change easily. Juggling core values and full-on capitalism, however, remains a delicate business.

#Kurdistan pays $1 billion to Dana Gas, partners to settle London case

#Iraq’s Kurdistan region will immediately pay $1 billion to UAE-based Dana Gas and its partners to settle a long-running London court case. The full and final settlement of the $2.24 billion case is the latest effort by the semi-autonomous region to put its finances in order ahead of a referendum seeking independence from the government in Baghdad. Kurdistan has ramped up oil sales independent from Baghdad and is hoping to raise gas exports. The settlement is significant for both parties, with Kurdistan settling the dispute at a time it is working on reshaping public finances. For Dana, the Kurdish settlement will be eagerly watched by its bond holders which are disputing Dana's move to restructure its $700 million sukuk on the grounds it is no longer sharia-compliant.

#Nigeria to offer liquidity support to boost Islamic banking

Nigeria’s central bank is setting up two financial instruments to provide liquidity support to boost Islamic banking. The central bank has been working to set regulatory ground rules for sukuk and takaful to try to emulate the success of the industry in Malaysia. Islamic banking services are currently offered by the Islamic window of Sterling Bank, Stanbic IBTC and Jaiz Bank, but Nigeria wants to increase the sector. The country is gradually opening up to Islamic finance to bring non-interest banking to over 80 million Muslims. In October the regulator granted liquidity status at its discount window for banks' investment in Islamic bonds issued by national governments, and for banks’ liquidity ratios. Nigeria launched a 100 billion naira ($318 million) debut sovereign sukuk in the local market in June to help develop alternative funding sources.

#Qatar banks seek Asian, European funding as diplomatic crisis bites

Qatari banks are turning to Asia and Europe for funding after clients from other Arab states pulled billions of dollars from their accounts. Analysts warn that more heavy withdrawals are likely in the coming months. Qatar Islamic Bank has recently raised funds through private placement deals in Japanese yen and Australian dollars. It is now exploring more such deals in Europe and Asia, as well as a certificate of deposit program and a Murabaha facility. Many Qatari banks are facing greater urgency to secure funding since June when the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a boycott on Qatar, accusing it of funding terrorism. Qatar denies the allegations. The crisis has led to an outflow of around $7.5 billion in foreign customers' deposits and a further $15 billion in foreign interbank deposits and borrowings. In response, Qatar's government deposited nearly $18 billion with local banks in June and July.

#Qatar# Islamic #Bank #offers #certificates of deposit after Q2 outflow – Nasdaq

The Qatar Islamic Bank aims to boost its deposit base by offering certificates of deposit in Qatari riyals and US$, after it was hit by an outflow of money due to sanctions against Qatar by its neighbouring Gulf countries. The bank said this weekend, that it was offering 1 and 2 year CDs in its 2nd series of such papers. Its first series was launched End of 2015. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar beginning of June this year, accusing the country of supporting terrorism. This prompted some firms and individuals from those states to pull money out of the Qatari banks. As a result, deposits in the Qatari banks shrank 1.8 % from the previous month in June. Qatar Islamic Bank was particularly hard hit, with its customer deposits falling to US$26.6 billion at end of June, according to its financial statements.

#Islamic #Development #Bank seeks #proposals for #dollar #sukuk

According to sources, the Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Development Bank has asked banks for proposals to arrange a U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk. The bank in Jeddah is a regular issuer of international Islamic bonds. The new sukuk, possibly with a five-year maturity, could be issued in the next month or two. The deal will probably have a size of between $1 - $1.5 billion. Banks were given a deadline of July 26 to respond to IDB’s request.

#Saudi finance ministry says domestic #sukuk program established

Saudi Arabia's ministry of finance has established a program to issue local currency sukuk, as the government covers a large budget deficit caused by low oil prices. The program has been submitted to the Capital Market Authority, the ministry said without specifying when the first sukuk issue would take place. Saudi commercial bankers said they expected the first issue in the next few days and believed 10 billion riyals ($2.7 billion) would be offered. The ministry noted that 13 domestic banks had qualified to participate in the sukuk issues. The Saudi government issued its first international sukuk in April and raised $9 billion.

#Qatar banks face liquidity challenge over Arab diplomatic feud

Qatari banks may need more cash injections from the state because of the risk of investor withdrawals. Banks have been feeling the fallout of the feud with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, which cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed economic sanctions. They accuse Qatar of financing Islamist militant groups and allying with their regional adversary Iran. Because of the sanctions, several Qatar banks have seen an outflow of deposits. Fitch Ratings estimates that the majority of deposits in Qatar from other Gulf Cooperation Council countries are Saudi and United Arab Emirates' deposits, and that they are being withdrawn as they mature. Analysts expect funding challenges for the Qatari banks, considering the government would still intend to continue their project plans for FIFA 2022.

#Pakistan sets rules for banks wanting to be fully sharia compliant

Pakistan's central bank has issued guidelines for banks that want to be fully-fledged sharia compliant, setting a three-year time frame for applicants to complete the process. The rules aim to accelerate the growth of Islamic banking in the country. Eligible applicants must have existing Islamic finance operations and the conversion process must start within six months of approval. After the conversion of conventional branches, the applicant can then apply for a fully-fledged Islamic banking license. Such conversions are rare in Islamic finance but are seen as a way to increase the scale of the bank and widen its reach into under-served rural areas. Islamic banking in Pakistan currently includes five fully-fledged Islamic banks and 16 conventional banks offering Islamic financial products. As of March, they held assets worth 1.9 trillion rupees ($17.9 billion), a 16% increase from a year earlier and 11.7% of total banking assets. However, their capitalization and profitability ratios remain below the industry average.

UAE's Dana Gas will try again to hold call on #sukuk restructuring

Dana Gas has rescheduled a telephone call with sukuk holders to this Thursday at 4 p.m. The call would outline the company's proposal to restructure its outstanding $700 million of sukuk. Dana is claiming it must exchange the instruments because they are no longer lawful following changes in Islamic finance. The company had originally scheduled the call for June 21, but on that day it decided to postpone the call. Dana said it made several approaches to an ad hoc committee of creditors to arrange a call but each invitation was declined.

Fitch: Dana Gas Case Highlights #Sukuk Legal Uncertainties

According to Fitch Ratings, credit rating implications for sukuk arising from Dana Gas's attempt to have its mudaraba sukuk declared unlawful will take time to emerge. The impact of the move remains unclear until all relevant proceedings are resolved. Fitch added that sharia compliance typically does not have credit implications for Fitch-rated sukuk. Fitch does not rate Dana Gas or its sukuk. Dana Gas started court proceedings in the UAE to have its sukuk declared unlawful and unenforceable in the UAE. Sukuk regulations have been introduced and updated in several countries in recent years, but standardisation, harmonisation and legal precedents are limited in most jurisdictions. This case could set an important precedent for the relationship between sharia compliance and credit risk, and give greater clarity on enforceability.

#UAE's Dana Gas gets injunction from English court blocking claims on $700 mln #sukuk

Dana Gas obtained an injunction from the English High Court of Justice in London restraining sukuk holders from taking any hostile action against the company. The company obtained similar injunctions from the Sharjah Federal Court of First Instance in the United Arab Emirates as well. Dana Gas announced last week that its outstanding $700 million sukuk were not sharia-compliant and were therefore unlawful in the UAE. The company said it would therefore halt coupon payments on the sukuk, and proposed exchanging the sukuk for new Islamic bonds with lower profit distributions.

#UAE's Dana Gas invites #sukuk holders to a call to discuss sukuk's "unlawfulness"

Abu Dhabi's Dana Gas has invited holders of its outstanding $700 million sukuk to discuss the planned sukuk restructuring. The energy company plans to provide background on its declaration of the current sukuk's "unlawfulness". Dana Gas announced last week that its sukuk were not sharia-compliant and were therefore unlawful in the UAE.

BRIEF-Al Izz Islamic Bank expresses interest in #merger with United Finance

Alizz Islamic Bank has expressed interest in the possibility of strategic merger with United Finance subject to conducting due diligence. No legally binding commitment has been made and the transaction remains subject to approval by the regulators and other stakeholders.

#Morocco opens first Islamic bank branch months after approval

The first Islamic bank in Morocco, Umnia Bank, has opened its doors five months after the central bank's approval. The North African country long rejected Islamic banking because of concern about Islamist movements, but its financial markets lack liquidity and investors. Umnia Bank is a joint venture of Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and Moroccan lender Credit Immobilier et Hotelier (CIH Bank). Umnia recently opened a total of three agencies, two in Casablanca and one in Rabat. The bank plans to open more branches throughout the country. Morocco is the most advanced of North African neighbours in developing Islamic finance. Tunisia and Algeria are also starting to explore the sector.

BRIEF-Kuwait Finance House denies any decision to merge with Ahli United Bank

Kuwait Finance House denies any decision to merge with Ahli United Bank. Kuwait Finance House is currently studying many other strategic alternatives to enlarge its profitability and marketshare among local and regional banks.

#Qatar Islamic Bank's dollar #sukuk books top $1 billion -lead

Order books for Qatar Islamic Bank's planned dollar five-year sukuk have topped $1 billion. The senior unsecured deal is part of a $3 billion sukuk programme. It will be of benchmark size, which conventionally means upwards of $500 million. Initial price guidance for the Islamic bond was 145-155 basis points over mid-swaps. Citi, Emirates NBD Capital, HSBC, Noor Bank, QInvest and Standard Chartered Bank have been appointed to lead the transaction.

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