Khaleej Times

DWE supports female leaders, strengthens role in corporate #governance

Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) in collaboration with the Institute for Corporate Governance recently held the second session of its training programme entitled "The Principles of Corporate Governance in Government Entities". The session targeted second and third level female leaders to promote the role of Emirati women and support their leadership. Shamsa Saleh, CEO of Dubai Women Establishment stressed the important role of the training in highlighting good corporate governance practices. The training session was attended by representatives of various sectors and featured presentations about a range of governance elements. The session supports the UAE Cabinet's decision to make the representation of women on boards of directors compulsory.

Charities must innovate for maximum social impact

The plenary session 'Philanthropy in the Muslim world: Harnessing the abundance of underutilised capital for social development' was held at the Global Islamic Economy Summit in Dubai. Tayeb Al Rais, secretary-general of the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, highlighted that Waqf was in decline and overlooked in modern Islamic societies. Clare Woodcraft, CEO of Emirates Foundation, said that foundations could benefit from narrowing their focus. Maysa Jalbout, CEO of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, agreed that focus was key and added that charities and foundations need to be more innovative if they are to maximise impact. Woodcraft said that Western foundations have much to learn from Islamic finance with its focus on ethical investment.

Why #London remains a favourite destination for #GCC buyers

On a pure investment basis, London has a transparent property market. Property tenure is clear cut and underpinned by the legal system. There has long been a trend for overseas buyers to purchase homes or investment properties in central London. Over the past few years, Russian and Asian buyers have become more active, but the interest from the Middle East has never waned. While the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) Wealth Fund has been diversifying its portfolio away from Europe, it still has at least $7 billion directly invested in equities traded on the London Stock Exchange, in which it also holds a 10.3% stake.

Sharjah Islamic Bank repays $400m #sukuk

Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) has successfully repaid a $400 million sukuk. The sukuk had been raised in May 2011 under challenging market circumstances. The funds raised under the sukuk were used for general corporate purposes and business expansion of SIB. The bank currently has two sukuks of $500 million outstanding which are set to mature in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

#Islamicbanking, modes moving up in #Pakistan

In Pakistan Islamic modes, financing and products have captured at least 15% of the overall financial market share in 2016. The interest is illustrated by the results attained by the UAE-based banks Alfalah and Bank Al Meezan. Bank Alfalah CEO Atif Bajwa reported a double-digit top line growth, Rs7.523 bn in CY-15, 33% growth from 2014. Meezan Bank reported a Rs2.67 bn profit for the first half of CY-2015. The bank has also introduced Meezan Asset Allocation Plan-1, Pakistan's largest asset management company.

Gold standard in Islamic finance 'almost there' for submission

Gold products used in Islamic finance would need to be physically-backed and allocated to the underlying asset, according to a draft of a standard for Shariah gold being developed. Mohd Daud Bakar, a Shariah scholar who is writing the draft for the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions, said the document is almost finished. The committee formed to develop the gold standard will meet once more next Sunday and then submit the proposal to AAOIFI's Shariah Board, he said. The gold standard is expected to be completed later this year, and public hearings could be held in Morocco and Dubai and possibly Indonesia or Malaysia, Bakar said.

Sharjah launches $500m 5-year sukuk

The Emirate of Sharjah priced a $500 million five-year Islamic bond issue on Wednesday. The deal will help Sharjah narrow its budget deficit and also pave the way for other regional borrowers. In the uncertain atmosphere, the five-year sukuk drew orders north of $950 million, a comfortable amount but much smaller than the $7.85 billion the emirate attracted for a $750 million, 10-year sukuk in September 2014. The shrinking orderbook reflects foreign investors' increasing nervousness about the impact of lower crude prices on the economy and local market appetite. The deal was priced at a spread of 250 basis points over midswaps, the document showed, at around the same level as the initial price thoughts set on Tuesday.

Islamic finance holds promise for Dubai

According to a recent report by the London-listed asset management group European Islamic Investment Bank, as Dubai pushes ahead with plans to expand its offering in Shariah-compliant financial services, it will be tapping into significant pent-up global demand for Islamic asset management, which could reach as high as $185 billion by 2019. The study, issued in mid October, highlighted additional measures that could be considered in order to raise Dubai's profile as a centre for IFS. Industry growth could be accelerated through wider consultation between fund managers and the authorities, with a focus on identifying ways to spur the creation of multi-asset-class, multi-geography funds.

S&P halves forecast for global sukuk issuance

Warning that the global sukuk market is heading toward a correction in 2015, Standard & Poor’s Rating Services (S&P) has halved its forecast for global sukuk issuance in 2015 as major issuer Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) switches to other instruments to finance the government’s spending. The global ratings agency said it was revising its forecast for total sukuk issuance in 2015 to about $50 billion to $60 billion from $100 billion to $115 billion, assuming there will be no issuance from BNM in 2015. In a statement, S&P said the move by BNM to stop issuance leaves the door open to issuers such as the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corp (IILM) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to step up their issuance and provide the industry with liquidity, thereby contributing to the development of an Islamic yield curve.

UAE banks building provisions to fend off possible bad debts

Several banks and financial institutions in the UAE are building provisions as a precautionary measure in anticipation of possible bad debts they may face in the future, the chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank said. Tirad Al Mahmoud also said that since not all borrowers they deal with are registered with the UAE’s Etihad Credit Bureau, their data is unknown. At present, ADIB’s rejection rate for loan applications it receives is between nine to 10 per cent, which may drop or rise once the Etihad Credit Bureau’s report on an individual or corporate covers the financial data on all the customers of all banks and financial institutions operating in the country.

Farazad: GCC investors in market for trophy assets

Tumbling oil prices may have dented Gulf investors’ surplus reserves, but their appetite for high-yield overseas-based assets remains robust, says Korosh Farazad, Chairman and CEO of Boutique Investment Bank Farazad Investments Inc. (FII). Middle East investors, particularly those from the Gulf countries such as UAE, Kuwait and Qatar, are attracted to trophy assets that could yield a minimum of 8% return on their investments, he says. These assets are typically located in Europe, Turkey and North America, where a transparent legal system, relatively stable political and security environment, and strong macroeconomic fundamentals have proven to be appealing to overseas investors.

SIB achieves Dh107m net profit for Q1 2015

Sharjah Islamic Bank achieved a net profit of Dh106.9 million for the first quarter 2015 compared to Dh110 million for the same period last year. While total assets reaching Dh27.4 billion, total assets grew by 5.3 per cent to reach Dh27.4 billion at the end of the first quarter 2015 compared to Dh26.0 billion at year end 2014. Liquid assets reached Dh5.7 billion comprising 20.7 per cent of total assets. Net customer receivables amounted to Dh16 billion growing by 10.5 per cent or Dh1.5 billion compared to year end 2014. Investment securities increased by 27.6 per cent to reach Dh2 billion compared to Dh1.6 billion at the end of 2014. Sharjah Islamic Bank was successful in attracting more deposits during the first-quarter of the year.

Debt wish: Most UAE residents use bonus to pay owed money

According to a survey for Zurich International Life by YouGov, 71 per cent of UAE residents will receive a company bonus during 2015. However, for 39 per cent of bonus recipients, the primary use of their payment will be to settle debt, with a further 16 per cent using the bonus to pay bills, such as rent or school fees. Another 13 per cent of respondents said they will leave their bonus in the bank, 11 per cent will invest in property and 10 per cent will invest in a savings scheme, while only seven per cent will spend the majority of their bonus. Besides, only 44 per cent of expats believe they will fulfil their financial goals when they leave the UAE.

Banks, financial firms on hiring spree in Middle East

Financial institutions and banks are hiring at the fastest pace in the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries as the regional economies show sign of improvement, according to the data released by recruiters Monster Worldwide. Demand for banking and finance professionals jumped in March, with a 65 per cent increase in job postings from a year earlier while job listings for the same sector climbed 38 per cent in the UAE, the Monster Employment Index Middle East revealed. Online hiring in Saudi Arabia and Egypt is soaring, with an increase of 30 per cent and 28 per cent respectively, in job listings. The UAE registered a modest growth of 17 per cent.

Takaful transactions reach Dh2.3b

The UAE’s insurance market grew 12 per cent in 2014 to Dh33 billion, said Ibrahim Al Zaabi, director- general of the Insurance Authority. The number of companies providing these sharia-compliant services has reached 11. The director-general said that the investments made by 60 insurance companies reached to Dh40 billion in the year. He said that the Insurance Authority has issued new rules and regulations in order to organise Takaful insurance business. The rules organise the financial, technical, investment, and accounting functions of Takaful insurance companies aiming to protect the rights of stakeholders, from future risks, the minister said.

Global sukuk issuance set to hit $175 billion in 2015

The study, “Sukuk Perceptions and Forecast,” released by Thomson Reuters, said the total global outstanding sukuk, which is currently at $241 billion, is also expected to grow to $907 billion by 2020. With the potential demand for sukuk expected to outstrip supply, the global Islamic bond issuance is expected to surge to $175 billion in 2015, up from $110 in 2014, and is projected to hit $250 billion by 2020, the report said. Investors view the UK as the most attractive emerging Islamic finance market for sukuk investment while lead arrangers also expect that more sukuk would be issued from the UK. Some investors are planning to reduce their allocations to sukuk which could push yields higher.

Crowdfunding can drive Islamic finance growth

There has been a significant growth in Islamic financing in recent years, and yet there is still strong potential for further growth, particularly through crowdfunding. This was debated during an expert panel on the final day of the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in Dubai. The relationship between the markets and the people has been demonstrated in detailed research which shows that, in the long run, a 30 per cent growth in equity markets can lead to 20 per cent growth in GDP per capita. The panel agreed that Islamic capital markets are more efficient at mobilising funds to support sustainable growth that traditional markets. The experts however, also called for standardisation.

Deal reached on Dubai World debt restructuring

Dubai World’s biggest creditors have agreed on a deal to renegotiate its debt repayment schedule, Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum has confirmed. Shaikh Ahmed, who is also Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group, ruled out any flotations of Dubai’s state-owned companies, including Emirates airline and air travel service provider dnata. Dubai World, under the revised plan, will repay the $4.4 billion tranche due in May 2015 early — likely in December or January depending on the progress of negotiations — in exchange for the $10.3 billion 2018 payment being extended until 2022. The new 2022 payment will also be augmented in a number of ways aimed at persuading creditors to grant more time.

UAE No.1 Middle East debt capital market in H1

The UAE was the most active nation in the Middle East in terms of debt capital market activity in the first half, accounting for 55 per cent of activity at $12.1 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia with 28 per cent. Bonds issued in the Middle East during the first half of 2014 fell 16 per cent from the same period last year, to $22 billion, dragged down by a slow first quarter. Investment grade corporate debt totalled $16.4 billion and accounted for 90 per cent of the first half total. M&A activity totalled $14 billion in the quarter, 2-1/2 times the value registered during the previous quarter. However, the value of M&A deals during the first half of 2014 declined four per cent from the same period last year to $19.7 billion.

Syrian refugee children’s education must continue

In the two Jordan camps for Syrian refugees, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is running an education programme with the help of Unicef and supported by Jordan’s education ministry. The camp schools have a Jordanian curriculum. The teachers are both Jordanian and Syrian, drawing on qualified camp residents to teach in the classrooms. NRC also runs a Youth Training Centre. It provides students life skills and leadership training to ensure they acquire traits that can be useful, both in the camp and upon their return to Syria. As winter sets in, relief agencies are concerned with stepping up a winterisation programme. Heaters and blankets are needed while old tents are being replaced with new trailers. Also needed are food, non-food items and medical care.

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