Kingdom Tower to Get Financing in First Half, Developer Says

Kingdom Tower, the Saudi skyscraper set to be the world’s tallest building, will probably have construction funding in place by the end of the first half. The developer Jeddah Economic Co. is in talks to bring in Riyadh-based Alinma Bank as an adviser and lender. BNP Paribas (BNP) SA is currently advising the company, but the size of loan being sought hasn't been disclosed. The builder has been looking for financing since at least April 2012. Kingdom Holding Co. and partners, including tower builder Saudi Binladen Group, are trying to arrange funding after investing 8.7 billion riyals ($2.3 billion) in the project. They are seeking a bank loan with a maturity of five to seven years.

AAA Guarantee Gives 1st Tunisia Sukuk Pricing Power: Arab Credit

The backing of AAA rated Islamic Development Bank is a boon to the debut sukuk Tunisia plans by July. The North African nation is planning to sell more than $100 million of Shariah-compliant bonds, Finance Minister Hakim Ben Hammouda said. That will help keep borrowing costs lower than they would be otherwise, said Mourad El Hattab at STB Bank. The guarantor will help keep the interest within the current range, El Hattab added. The IDB has provided Tunisia $3.6 billion in support. The yield on Tunisia’s 400 million-euro ($557 million) bonds maturing in 2020 fell three basis points to 4.42 percent at 11.59: a.m. on May 8 in Dubai, compared with a high for the year of 5.7 percent on Jan. 6.

Saudi Banks Reject Algosaibi Meeting on $5.9 Billion Default

A group of Saudi Arabian lenders has rejected an invitation from Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Co. to attend a meeting next month to discuss their claims on $5.9 billion of debt. The banks have no interest in attending the meeting proposed, according to a letter to Algosaibi from a law firm representing the unnamed Saudi lenders. The letter, dated April 3, didn’t give a reason why the banks don’t want to attend. Algosaibi and billionaire Maan al-Sanea’s Saad Group missed payments on at least $15.7 billion of debt in 2009 in the Middle East’s biggest default, as the global financial crisis froze credit markets and asset prices slumped. The two family holding companies, which are related by marital ties, have been locked in legal disputes ever since.

Saudi Electricity, Bank Muscat, Gulf Finance: Islamic Bond Alert

Several borrowers plan to offer sukuk such as the Saudi Electricity Co. which has already started to arrange investor meetings. The Malaysian construction company IJM Corp plans to sell up to 3 billion ringgit ($910 million) of Islamic bonds. Moreover, the Omani Bank Muscat plans to set up a 500-million rial ($1.3 billion) sukuk program and sell up to 1 billion rials of Shariah-compliant debt in Saudi Arabia. Besides, Malaysia’s Maybank Islamic has reportedly set up a 10 billion ringgit Basel III sukuk program. On the other hand, U.A.E.’s First Gulf Banks planned 3.5 billion ringgit sukuk program was assigned a AAA rating by RAM Rating Services. Furthermore, the governments of Oman and Pakistan are considering selling sukuk this year, among others.

GFH Surges to Three-Month High After Board Change: Dubai Mover

Gulf Finance House climbed to the highest in more than three months as the Bahrain-based investment bank replaced its chairman Essam Janahi by by Ahmed Al-Mutawa. The shares surged 11 percent to 57.3 fils in Dubai, the highest since June 20, bringing the gain this year to 37 percent. Gulf Finance House shares listed in Bahrain rose 7.7 percent and those traded in Kuwait advanced 6.5 percent. Some investors may be taking advantage of the price difference in Gulf Finance House shares by buying in Kuwait and selling in Dubai. In Israel, the TA-25 index gained 1.4 percent, led higher by Perrigo Co., a generic drug maker, and Cellcom Israel Ltd. The gauge dropped 1.1 percent on Oct. 3 in a rebalancing for the entry of Opko Health Inc. into the index.

Biggest Malaysia Funds Plan to Buy Dollar Sukuk

Malaysia's two biggest state-owned pension funds plan to boost holdings of dollar sukuk.
It is said that their increasing presence in the global arena will help strengthen Malaysia's position as a global Islamic hub and enhance the country's visibility. It will also encourage more local and international issuers to sell dollar sukuk in Kuala Lumpur and around the world.

Saudi Civil Aviation Hires HSBC, NCB, StanChart for Sukuk

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation hired three banks for a local-currency sukuk. The Saudi Arabian affiliate of HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), National Commercial Bank’s investment banking unit and Standard Chartered Plc will manage the sukuk sale. NCB Capital and Standard Chartered bid jointly for the mandate. It was not specified how much the authority sought to raise, neither was the timing of the sale. GACA said last year it plans to issue a second tranche of notes to fund an airport expansion in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The company sold Islamic debt last year at 2.5 percent and used proceeds to finance an airport expansion in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

Goldman Breaks Drought With Saudi Property Bond: Islamic Finance

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) led its first sukuk in more than three years after helping a Saudi property developer raise $450 million. The bank was a lead arranger on Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Co. (ALARKAN)’s sukuk on May 21, reforging links with the Riyadh-based real estate company after helping arrange the sale of its $450 million five-year bonds in February 2010. The New York-based bank is seeking to catch up with U.S. competitors as demand accelerates for securities that conform to Islamic principles. Increased competition in the industry could work in banks’ favor, as lower fees increase the chances borrowers will come to market and more banks means a greater profile for the Islamic industry.

Pilgrim Funds Give Indonesia Banks Booster Shot: Islamic Finance

Indonesia’s plan to shift 11 trillion rupiah ($1.1 billion) of pilgrim’s savings into Shariah- compliant lenders is a booster-shot that will help narrow the gap with neighboring Malaysia. Deposits set aside by those planning a Hajj visit to Mecca in Saudi Arabia will be shifted by the Ministry of Religious Affairs from non-Islamic banks within a year of announcing the policy. The funds are equivalent to 7.3 percent of the 150.8 trillion rupiah in savings at Islamic lenders, less than a sixth of Malaysia’s 310 billion ringgit ($102 billion). The entire Hajj fund totaled 55 trillion rupiah in March, with about 35 trillion rupiah invested in non-tradable sovereign sukuk and 9 trillion rupiah already placed at Islamic lenders.

Khazanah Said to Pick 3 Banks for $1 Billion Convertible Sukuk

Khazanah Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s state investment company, selected CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. (CIMB), Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) and Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) to help arrange a sale of $1 billion of convertible Islamic bonds. Khazanah could raise $500 million to $1 billion, though a final decision on whether to proceed has yet to be made. The sukuk would be exchangeable into shares of companies controlled by Khazanah. No decision has been made on which companies’ shares would back the Islamic bond.

HSBC Among Banks Said to Agree $4 Billion Al Jaber Debt Deal

Abu Dhabi-based Al Jaber Group eached a deal with its five main lenders to restructure about $4 billion of debt. The company agreed on terms, including loan repayments over five years. The debt, which includes both conventional and Islamic facilities, will pay annual interest of between 300 basis points, or 3 percentage points, to 400 basis points over the London Interbank Offered Rate. The deal will result in no loan losses. National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC (ADCB), Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Union National Bank PJSC make up the coordinating committee with HSBC negotiating the new terms on behalf of about 30 lenders.

Profit Shortfall Slows Shariah Bank Expansion: Islamic Finance

Islamic banks say their small scale and a lack of risk-management products makes it harder for them to compete. The average return on equity at Shariah-compliant lenders was 11.6 percent in 2011, compared with 15.3 percent at their non-Islamic counterparts. Moreover, Shariah banks had an average $17 billion of assets in 2011, less than the $65 billion for non-Islamic lenders, resulting in operating costs as a proportion of holdings that were 50 percent higher. This is due to the fact that most Islamic banks have very basic risk infrastructure and most of these institutions operate in domestic markets which are highly competitive. Therefore, growth is becoming more challenging to achieve.

Aljazira Capital Hires Jaouni as Institutional Brokerage Head

Aljazira Capital Co., the investment arm of Saudi Arabia’s Bank Al-Jazira (BJAZ), hired Samer Al-Jaouni as head of institutional brokerage and assistant general manager. He will start at the bank after regulatory approval. Aljazira Capital is one of about 30 brokerages in Saudi Arabia.

Investors Demand Climate-Risk Disclosure in 2013 Proxies

Shareholders are filing resolutions asking companies to disclose physical risks posed by climate change for the first time this proxy season. The resolutions include setting greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, publishing sustainability reports, pursuing energy efficiency, and disclosing information about hydraulic fracturing operations. Although shareholder resolutions on sustainability rarely receive a majority vote, they can still prompt companies to take action to avoid risk to their reputation or address investor concerns. Environmental and social resolutions accounted for more than 40 percent of all shareholder resolutions submitted in 2012, the largest proportion of those addresses corporate political spending.

EFG-Hermes Says QInvest Takeover Delayed by Regulators

EFG-Hermes Holding SAE (HRHO) said its sale to Qatar’s QInvest LLC has been delayed because of regulatory approvals. This is because the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority hasn’t yet approved the transfer of EFG-Hermes’ Egyptian assets to the new, Qatari-based entity. QInvest will invest $250 million in the venture, with the option to buy total ownership.

Abu Dhabi’s Aldar to Buy Sorouh in $1.5 Billion Deal

Aldar Properties PJSC (ALDAR) has consented to buy Sorouh Real Estate PJSC at the cost of 5.5 billion dirham ($1.5 billion). According to a statement y the two companies, 1.288 of Aldar's shares will be offered for each Sorouh share. Thus, based on the closing price of January 17th, Sorouh’s shares are worth 2.10 dirhams. The Managing Director of Sorouh - Abubaker Seddiq Al Khouri - will be chairman of of the combined Aldar Sorouh Properties PJSC. The deal was backed by the government of Abu Dhabi, which has taken an increasingly direct role in the development of projects and support of builders after the impact of the credit crisis on real estate.

Malaysia Pays Higher Yields for Aircraft Sukuk to Lure Investors

The government of Malaysia paid higher yields for its second offering of state-backed sukuk on behalf of the national airline to entice investors. The total issuance of the notes had already reached 4.6 billion ringgit ($1.5 billion). The finance ministry was able to sell 1.2 billion ringgit of the debt on January 17th. The orders amounted to 1.5 billion ringgit. In comparison to that, rail operator Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd sold 3.6 billion ringgit in bids for a 2 billion ringgit sukuk sale on August 28th. The latter Shariah- compliant debt was government guaranteed as well.

Bank Islam Malaysia Suspends Chief Economist for Policy Breach

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd announced the suspension of chief economist Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin for allegedly breaching the bank’s internal policies. Azrul predicted at a forum in Singapore last week that Prime Minister Najib Razak will not win the upcoming general election in Malaysia. In a statement, the bank explained that the nature of the breaches would be established as soon as the investigations are completed. They further stressed that the suspension had no relation to Azrul's voicing his personal political views. It was reiteratively said that Azrul’s political views and his comments should are not to be associated with the bank.

Arab Spring Needs a Mini-Marshall Plan

The euphoria of the Arab Spring has turned to disappointed expectations because building Arab democracies with open economies has proved to be much harder than expected. Countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are stuck in a situation of instability which hampers economic recovery. Meanwhile, lack of growth and jobs nurtures instability. If the vicious circle is not broken, it is highly probable that radical Islamists will become more active. Thus, modernity would be rejected and a relapse to the corrupt crony-state systems would threaten to become reality. That is why an altered mini-version of the Marshall Plan could play the role of the necessary bigger and more focused effort.

Islamic Development Bank Opens Clean-Energy Fund in Central Asia

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector gave start to a fund aiming to finance renewable- energy projects in Central Asia and plans another in Africa. The fund is worth $35 million and is situated in Kazakhstan. In the very near future the North Africa fund containing $35 million to $50 million is to be opened. Financing for renewables ventures is targeting emerging markets due to the governments' striving to curb reliance on fuel imports and cash-strapped nations in Europe cut subsidies for clean power.

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