Europe

Islamic finance in #Malta

In 2008, the Malta Financial Ser­vices Authority was the first EU regulator to issue guidelines on Islamic finance, which were updated in 2015-2016. In 2016, the Malta Stock Ex­change launched an Islamic Equity Index in order to attract investment and business from the Middle East. From a legislative aspect, Malta is already well-geared to welcome new structures that provide for Islamic finance. Malta is the only EU member country whose regulatory framework provides for protected cell companies and incorporated cell companies. Thus it may easily accommodate Takaful insurance solutions. Islamic investors are given the opportunity to set up their funds as Special Purpose Vehicles, Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities, Alternative Investment Funds or Professional Inves­tor Funds. Islamic finance institutions may also generate funds by listing on the Malta Stock Exchange.

Holistic Finance, a movement launched in Switzerland!

In this article Efi Pylarinou shares a few takeaways from the Impact Summit-Faith in Finance held in Zug, Switzerland. Takeway number 1 is that Finance can become Holistic. Blockchain is the enabler for investing and managing all kinds of Digital Assets. The second takeaway is that Finance can become Holistic through the alignment with Faiths. The conference showcased a diverse selection of SDGs and ventures that are in alignment with the movement. Example ventures include: Equileap, focused on gender diversity, TBLI Group, educating asset managers about impact investing, MicroVest, a wholesale microfinance solution with a Faith alignment, SweetBridge, a blockchain solution for the inefficiencies in the Supply Chain, the Seratio Faith Coin, GoBeyond, angel investing empowering women, ThinkYellow, a gender led investing platform, Symbiotics, financing social SMEs, Kompotoi, the rentable composting toilet and 1Bank4All, the global social bank.

Former Swiss Bankers’ Associations’ Head of Compliance and Data Protection joins Lexpert Partners AG

Lexpert Partners AG, a Zug based law firm specialised in providing legal and regulatory advice for the financial industry and to private clients, has appointed Dr. Andrew Ertl, as Partner, effective as of November 1, 2017. Andrew Ertl will be focusing on banking and finance law with a specialist know-how in Sharia compliant structuring as well as data protection law (including GDPR).

Andrew Ertl joins Lexpert Partners from the Swiss Bankers’ Association where he held the position of Head of Compliance and Data Protection and was member of senior management.

Prior to joining the Swiss Bankers’ Association, Andrew Ertl worked as general counsel and secretary of the Board for Peak Values AG, and as in-house counsel for Bank Sarasin & Cie AG and UBS AG.

Andrew Ertl has a doctorate of law (Dr. iur.) from the University of Bern (2012), [Thesis Sharia compliant financial products under Swiss Law] and an additional Masters degree from the University of Edinburgh (UK) in European Commercial Law. Andrew Ertl is fluent in English and German and proficient in French.

When money meets religion: Sharia compliant #pensions in the #UK

Pension schemes are increasingly attempting to understand their members' preferences. Exclusion policies over so-called sin stocks, such as alcohol and tobacco, is on the rise across the UK. The need for sharia-accommodating pensions is likely to grow. The UK’s Muslim population reached 2.8m in 2011, according to the last census. The biggest challenge associated with sharia compliance relates to its policies on investments, but sukuk can take the place of conventional debt instruments. Christine Hallett, CEO of Carey Pensions UK, which administers the Islamic Pension Trust, says sukuk is currently too expensive for the workplace DC default charge cap of 0.75%. The industry is faced with a circular problem. Lack of demand limits the range of mature markets sharia funds can invest in. Maria Nazarova-Doyle, head of JLT Employee Benefits, sees a current absence of demand for sharia pensions, but adds that sharia considerations are becoming more prominent.

Faith And #Investment Come Together As Polling Shows The Public Want Investors To Act With Conscience

The Church of England is circulating a video which discusses investment issues within the church. The initiative is part of Good Money Week to stimulate responsible investment. The YouGov research for Good Money Week shows that there is a high demand for ethical and sustainable investment. 57% of Britain's public believe investment managers have responsibility to ensure holdings are managed in a way positive for society and the environment. There is a rising demand for fossil free funds: 40% want a fossil free option, up from 35% last year and 32% in 2015. This rises to 57% of adults under 24. The research also found that UK savers feel disempowered by financial intermediaries. 76% of Britain's public don’t know how much of their pension is invested ethically and 30% believe they have no say in how their assets are invested. During Good Money Week, the Church of England provides the tools to find out more about ethical investment and helps to take the first steps.

SEDCO Capital discusses #ethical #investment in forum

#Saudi asset manager SEDCO Capital participated in the Islamic Finance Forum in London as an associate sponsor. Several panels and workshops were held focusing on trends in Islamic Finance and European markets. Panel topics included the role of European Stock Exchanges in facilitating Islamic capital raising, Islamic corporate financing activity in Europe and the impact of Brexit. Kamran Butt, Managing Director at SEDCO Capital, participated in the panel discussion entitled "Responsible Investing: The Shift towards Green Finance, ESG & Ethical Funds". Butt said SEDCO's Prudent Ethical Investing (PEI) strategy created optimal risk adjusted returns by integrating Shariah-compliant investment approach with ethical investing. PEI stresses the importance of due diligence and transparency. PEI investment products are getting increasingly popular. International investors can choose from over 14 SEDCO Sharia-compliant investment strategies in Luxembourg with total AUMs of $1.8 billion.

#Britain plans new #sukuk deal; Brexit may boost Islamic finance

Britain plans to reissue Islamic bonds in 2019 in a sign the country’s exit from the European Union may accelerate plans to develop the Islamic finance industry. In 2014, Britain became the first Western country to issue sukuk, raising £200mil (RM1.125bil). A spokesperson of the Treasury assured that the UK was committed to ensuring the future success of the sector. Brexit could threaten London’s dominance as a financial centre. A Reuters survey showed around 10,000 finance jobs may shift out of Britain or be created overseas in the next few years because of Brexit, with Frankfurt and Paris benefiting most. According to Bilal Khan, partner at Islamic finance consultancy Dome Advisory, Brexit has increased the government’s interest in Islamic finance. Because of Brexit, the UK is keen to build economic links with non-EU countries. He said a second sovereign sukuk issue by Britain might be expanded to raise as much as £1bil.

#Sukuk market great hope may never recover from Dana

Dana Gas is an independent natural gas supplier based in Sharjah. Its dispute with investors is now making its way not only through UAE courts, but through English courts as well. Dana’s gone so far down the road to avoid its debt repayments that the affair could easily scare international investors away from the sector. The fallout can be seen in the new issue market. While sovereign sales are carrying on, the broader corporate and financials market in the Middle East has been awaiting resolution of this dispute. In June Dana claimed that its $700mn outstanding sukuk were non-compliant with Shariah law and the money it paid out to holders of the bonds should be returned. Bondholders objected and suggested an immediate payment of half of the $700mn face amount outstanding and the due date for the balance extended for three years. The case is now disputed in Sharjah and London, where it stays until October 12, to allow court proceedings in Sharjah to conclude.

Bondholders push back on Dana Gas #sukuk invalidation claims in London court

Dana Gas sought to have US$700 million worth of Islamic bonds declared unlawful so it could avoid repaying its investors. The bondholder group, led by Blackrock, demanded in court that Dana Gas repays millions of pounds, or hand over stock in a subsidiary that runs its operations in Egypt. It also wanted the court to ban Dana Gas from issuing any new sukuk. The courtroom battle is notable for the absence of Dana Gas, which has been prevented from taking part because of an injunction in the UAE. Any prospect of an early conclusion has been disputed by Dana Gas, which has claimed that litigation could continue in the UAE and could last up to ten years. The trial in London, which is expected to last up to two weeks, is due to hear evidence from the former general counsel of Dana Gas.

Creditors tell High Court that Dana Gas #sukuk get-out is "absurd"

According to creditors, Dana's claim that it does not have to pay back its Islamic bonds because they are no longer sharia-compliant is "absurd" as repayment under such a scenario is covered in the original paperwork. United Arab Emirates energy producer Dana Gas said in June that its $700 million sukuk were unlawful and began proceedings to have this confirmed in British and UAE courts. The case could set a precedent for other sukuk issuers to refuse to redeem their debt obligations. Legal representatives for the creditors have asked the court to dismiss the Dana Gas claim and asked for permission to serve an exercise notice so they would be able to take action. Dana Gas and Deutsche Bank were not in court because of a last minute injunction obtained from a UAE court preventing them from taking part. Judge Leggatt said he would adjourn the trial until Oct. 12 to see if the Sharjah court in the UAE would lift the injunction preventing Dana Gas and Deutsche from participating in the UK proceedings.

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.

#Brexit suspense casts shadow over #UK as an Islamic finance hub

Uncertainty over the UK’s future status as a financial hub after leaving the European Union (EU) is already casting a shadow over London’s Islamic finance sector. It is estimated that London would lose at least 10,000 banking jobs and 20,000 roles in financial services as clients move €1.8tn of assets out of the UK. The banking exodus would also hit the Islamic finance sector in London, which is the largest globally in a non-Muslim jurisdiction. London currently hosts more than 15 large banks that operate Islamic finance windows and dozens of related service providers. A banking lobbying group has already urged the UK government to introduce post-Brexit laws that make sure that demand for Islamic finance services does not diminish. As long as the UK gives no clear direction whether and how it would excel as a financial hub, competitors will continue positioning themselves as alternative locations. Within the EU, Luxembourg and Dublin, and partly Frankfurt, have good chances to take on roles as Islamic finance hubs for Islamic finance institutions with business in the EU.

QInvest invests in #Spanish #marina OneOcean Port Vell

#Qatar's QInvest has invested in OneOcean Port Vell in Barcelona, Spain. Originally built for the 1992 Olympic Games, the marina recently completed its transformation to a luxury facility, creating the ultimate destination for yachts up to 190m. QInvest will work with the city and port authorities in Barcelona to increase the profile of the marina by investing additional resources in the port infrastructure. OneOcean Port Vell is QInvest's second investment in Spain this year, having earlier invested into a Spanish real estate strategy focused on land developments in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Marbella. The objective is to acquire well-located land parcels across Spain and develop residential apartments for first home owners. QInvest’s revenues from all business lines were QR209mn, resulting in an operating profit of QR113mn and net profit of QR34.6mn in the first half of this year. The bank’s global assets stood at QR4.7bn at the end of June 30, 2017.

#Turkish participation banks' #profit #soars 36 pct in first half

The Participation banks achieved a profit of approx. $223.29 million in the first half of 2017 with an increase of 36 % compared to the same period the year before. According to information put together by the non-consolidated financial statements of Albaraka Türk, Kuveyt Türk, Türkiye Finans Participation Bank, Vak?f Participation and Ziraat Participation, the total assets of participation banks increased by 7.7 % compared to the end of last year, exceeding $41.52 billion. In the first half, the net profit of the sector increased by 36 %.
Among the participation banks, Kuveyt Türk achieved the highest net profit in the first half, followed by Türkiye Finans Participation Bank, Albaraka Türk, Ziraat Participation and Vak?f Participation. By the end of June, Kuveyt Türk was the leader of the sector, followed by Türkiye Finans Participation Bank and Albaraka Turk.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency regarding the first half results and expectations of the participation banks, Melik?ah Utku, chairman of the Participation Banks' Association of Turkey (PBAT), stressed that the participation banking sector is in a significant development process and has serious potential in Turkey.

The #continuing allure of #Islamic #finance

The total Islamic finance industry was estimated at around $ 1.9 trillion in assets for the year end of 2016, and it pales into insignificance compared with traditional finance. However of special interest is the growing popularity of Islamic finance from both the Muslim and non-Muslim financial institutions and investors. Islamic assets are very much concentrated in the banking sector which holds $1.5 trillion in total, with the Islamic bonds or sukuks worth $320 billion, and investment funds and insurance or so called takaful worth $56 billion and $25 billion respectively.
The majority are purchase and sale or murabaha and leasing or ijara transactions. Some major Gulf companies are turning to the sukuk market to raise funds, with Saudi Aramco and the Government of Saudi Arabia both successfully launching sukuk tranches which were heavily oversubscribed.

#Master in Islamic Finance

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in collaboration with IE Business School offers a training program for the development of executives across the Islamic finance industry. The Master in Islamic Finance program has a blended format, combining on-site periods in Spain and Saudi Arabia with dynamic, interactive online modules to minimize the time away from work. The length of the training is 13 months and intake starts in October 2017. Throughout the program, participants will obtain practical knowledge of high-level financial tools, develop practical Islamic Finance technical skills and acquire leadership skills. Upon program completion participants receive a University Private Degree from IE Business School and IE Universidad. IE Business School is a school within IE Universidad, which is a University officially accredited by the Spanish education authorities.

Islamic #FinTech Strengthens Ties with European Partners

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has announced two new partnerships with non-profit organizations from London and Zurich. The first alliance is with the Swiss Finance and Technology Association (SFTA). The second one is the British think tank Responsible Finance and Investment Foundation (RFI). The Swiss partnership will strengthen the collaboration between local FinTech businesses and will provide new opportunities for knowledge transfer. ADGM also signed an agreement with the London-based RFI. Both parties will work together to assist young FinTech entrepreneurs in testing and introducing innovative products under the ADGM Reglab program. In addition to that, RFI and ADGM will also set up an open platform to share knowledge and expertise. According to Blake Goud, the CEO of RFI, FinTech can have a leading role in transforming the way Islamic institutions connect with their clients. In his view, this partnership can encourage and support emerging FinTech companies to adopt ethical, responsible and Islamic approaches.

#IIRA Maintains #Ratings of #Kuveyt #Turk Participation Bank

The ratings on Kuveyt Turk Participation Bank continue to reflect its overall sound risk profile. IIRA’s assessment on Kuveyt Turk Participation Bank encompasses sponsor support from its key shareholders that include Kuwait Finance House, Islamic Development Bank and other quasi-sovereign entities such as the General Directorate of Foundations – Turkey and Kuwait Public Institution for Social Security.

#Dana #Gas takes offer to #creditors off the table in $700m #sukuk row

Dana Gas has withdrawn an offer to creditors to exchange its debt of $ 700 million Islamic bond for new notes. Thereby ending the chance of a consensual resolution to a case that could shape the future of the global Islamic finance industry. The gas company is refusing to repay holders of its Islamic bond which matures in October. It said last month it had received legal advice that the bond was no longer Sharia-compliant in the UAE because of changes in Islamic finance interpretations over the recent years, and was therefore not lawful. But creditors say Dana has to pay them back and argue if the sukuk was legal when the deal was struck, it holds, and if it was illegal then it would mean the company is in default.

#Abu #Dhabi #Islamic #Bank praises #UAE #Central #Bank clampdown on mis-selling #investments

Central Bank issued a notificaiton in May this year about mis-selling of investments. The UAE‘s largest Sharia-compliant lender, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, has welcomed efforts by the central bank to clamp down on unscrupulous sales of investment plans to UAE expats It said, the reputation of the industry as a whole had been damaged by dishonest brokers.
“More regulation is a good thing and we work very closely with the central bank” and other wealth management institutions who wish to improve their services, said Daffer Luqman of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. “At the end of the day the reputation of the business affects everybody. If an institution does a bad job of promoting or marketing a service it affects the whole industry so it’s very important that this business is regulated, that it’s regulated effectively and that everybody plays by the rules.”

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