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BisB signs #murabaha financing pact

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) has signed an agreement with Bahrain Bourse for a murabaha financing framework using a Sharia-compliant lending service. The underlying asset is Ijara sukuk provided by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB). Adding this Murabaha service introduces a new underlying asset to the bank’s existing commodity murabaha facility structure, currently conducted via local and international brokers. This further diversifies the structure and enhances its framework given that it is actioned via a digital system which decreases the processing time exponentially.

Al Baraka signs #sukuk trading deal with BHB

Al Baraka Islamic Bank and Bahrain Bourse (BHB) have signed an agreement allowing the bank to buy and sell Sharia-complaint ijara sukuk through the exchange. Proceeds from the sukuk will contribute to facilitating the bank’s financing operations for its underlying clients. The agreement aims to diversify the commodities available for underlying clients when conducting a commodity-based murabaha transaction to include government-based sukuk issued by the Central Bank of Bahrain.

Al Salam Bank offers exclusive financing for Saraya Al Reem villas

Al Salam Bank-Bahrain signed a memorandum of understanding with Al Saraya Properties Company to offer an exclusive financing facility for customers purchasing villas in the new Saraya Al Reem 3 development. The bank's property finance scheme is available to all customers, including Bahraini nationals eligible for Mazaya social housing.

VCBank buys majority stake in Caribou and Fuddruckers

Bahrain's Venture Capital Bank (VCBank) announced its acquisition of a significant stake in the Caribou Coffee and Fuddruckers Restaurant franchises in Bahrain. From its first outlet in Bahrain in 2007, Caribou has grown its network to 22 stores, and is ranked among the top three international coffee shop chains operating in the kingdom.

AUB in push for #merger with KFH

Bahrain’s largest lender Ahli United Bank (AUB) has announced that two investment banks are evaluating a potential merger with Kuwait Finance House (KFH). HSBC and Credit Suisse are currently undertaking necessary valuations studies to assist AUB and to arrive at a fair share exchange ratio. If a merger proceeds, the total assets of the two banks would be $90.57 billion, making it the sixth largest bank in the Gulf. The major shareholders in the two lenders are Kuwait state-owned entities. The Public Institution for Social Security owns 18.59% of AUB, while KFH's largest shareholder is the Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund, the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA).

Physical Gold #Fund SP announces Shariah compliance

Physical Gold Fund SP (PGF) has been endorsed as Shariah-compliant by Amanie Advisors. Amanie Advisors issued the fatwa in accordance with the Shariah Standard on Gold set by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and developed in cooperation with the World Gold Council. According to Alex Stanczyk, managing director of Physical Gold Fund SP, this fund is unique in the Mena region and is a perfect fit for the values expected by Islamic investors.

Asset management industry ‘set for growth’

#Bahrain’s assets management industry is set to see continued strong growth in the next five years. Central Bank of Bahrain supervisor Abdulrahman Al Baker said this positive trend can be attributed to the rapid expansion and increasing sophistication of the GCC financial markets. Other factors include the enchanced regulation on asset management and capital markets, the growing wealth of high net worth individuals, as well as the steady economic growth in the region.

Al Salam Bank names group chief executive

Al Salam Bank-Bahrain (ASBB) has appointed Rafik Nayed as chief executive of the group following regulatory approvals. According to ASBB chairman Khaleefa Butti Al Muhairi, Rafik Nayed has a proven international track record in banking and finance as well as the necessary expertise needed for this position.

Dubai Investments to launch sharia-compliant Arkan Bank

Dubai Investments will lead a consortium of investors to launch Arkan Bank. Arkan Bank is now applying to the Dubai Financial Services Authority for approval for a licence to operate as an Islamic financial institution. It plans to offer sharia-compliant banking services and investment products to serve ultra-high-net-worth individuals, corporates, and institutional clients. The bank has an initial paid-up-capital of $100 million and will have an authorised share capital of $500 million. Arkan Bank chairman Khalid Bin Kalban said the bank would initially focus on the GCC region and subsequently build scale to become the top-tier Islamic wholesale bank. The bank plans to list its shares on NASDAQ Dubai within 12 months of its establishment.

#Saudi nationals warned against investments in #cryptocurrencies

Saudi nationals have been warned against embarking on hazardous investments in cryptocurrencies. According to the Capital Market Authority, there is no monetary oversight inside Saudi Arabia over digital currencies which involve high risks. It warned that digital currencies expose investors to speculative bubbles, loss of capital, fraud, high market volatility, cyber hacking and lack of transparent evaluative regulations. The Capital Market Authority also said that it would be difficult to protect investors as Saudi Arabia has no oversight on the digital currency.

#Saudi #insurer Enaya to offer Sharia-compliant policies

Health insurer Saudi Enaya has joined hands with Shariyah Review Bureau, a global Sharia Advisory firm, to offer Sharia-compliant value creating policies. CEO Lee Shurey stated that offering Sharia compliant products provides a tremendous opportunity to strengthen Enaya’s position in the region. The company had already identified Islamic cooperative insurance as a major potential more than three years ago. Enaya's HR director Moneer Brembali said that the insurer has undertaken several initiatives over the years and this agreement with SRB is another demonstration of their commitment to customers. He added that SRB’s Sharia Review Certification and Audit experience will complement the company's knowledge. SRB is a Sharia Advisor which currently serves 24% of the Saudi Cooperative Insurance market in the kingdom. It also has an established record of innovation to expand and improve leading insurance practices.

Saudi billionaire donates two-thirds of his wealth to charity

A Saudi billionaire has donated two-thirds of his wealth to charity. Forbes Magazine estimates the wealth of Saudi business tycoon Shaikh Suleiman bin Abdulaziz Al Rajhi at $7.7 billion. Al Rajhi has worked as a porter, cleaner, cook, café servant and office boy in a bank. Forbes magazine has ranked him as the Arab world's fifth richest man. He is the founder of Al-Rajhi Bank, the largest Islamic bank in the world, and one of the largest companies in Saudi Arabia.

Tadhamon success

Bahrain-based Tadhamon Capital announced the successful exit from its investment in Coxlease School in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, UK. The school is a specialist residential education facility for children with severe behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. It is let to Priory Group for a 30-year period with annual rent reviews linked to the retail price index. Acquired in November 2010, the school was Tadhamon’s seed investment in its Social Infrastructure Investment Platform in the UK. The platform currently holds assets valued at more than $523 million across segments. Over the five-year investment period, a minimum annual cash dividend of nine per cent was achieved.

Bahraini Islamic banks urged to seek mergers

Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Governor Rasheed Al Maraj has made a renewed call to Bahraini Islamic banks to merge or acquire other institutions. In his keynote address at the opening of the 22nd Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC), he said given a tougher regulatory environment, challenges to their business model and increased competition from Islamic as well as conventional competitors, the preferred path, particularly for Islamic investment banks, was to merge in order to create institutions of size. Earlier this year, the CBB launched a new Sharia-compliant Wakala liquidity management tool aimed at absorbing excess liquidity of local Islamic retail banks. Mr Al Maraj also said the CBB is introducing a centralised Sharia Board with a broad mandate.

GCC firms target capital markets for project funding

The Gulf’s state-linked firms are being forced to wean themselves off direct government funding, and focus more on capital markets and private investment, to push ahead with their building and infrstructure projects in an era of cheap oil. Thus, the future are projects that connect to private investment. This could be a boon for bankers, who have long wanted to play a bigger role in arranging financing packages for Gulf governments. So far the shift is most evident in the smaller Gulf nations which lack huge cash reserves but have big projects in the pipeline: Oman and Bahrain. But the change is also occurring at some of the region’s largest enterprises.

Bourse launches key Bahrain Islamic Index

The Bahrain Islamic Index, a tool to measure changes in values of Sharia-compliant securities listed on the Bahrain Bourse (BHB), was launched yesterday. In a statement issued after the launch, BHB chief executive Shaikh Khalifa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said the index will be computed from the prices of 17 selected stocks, all of which comply with standards and regulations set by the bourse's Sharia committee. The index will act as a standardised tool, adopted by investors in order to measure the fluctuations of their investment portfolios in the companies computed within the Islamic Index.

Ibdar Bank first-half revenues surge 51pc

Ibdar Bank, a Bahrain-based wholesale Islamic investment bank, has reported an increase of 51 per cent in total revenues at $11.1 million for the six months ended June 30, when compared with the same period last year. A statement by the bank said total profits for the period increased by 79pc to $2.54m after an impairment charge of $2.2m relating to legacy assets. Excluding these one-off charges, said the bank, it achieved improved profitability of $4.72m when compared with $1.96m in the first half last year.

Bank turning Sharia-compliant

Seychelles-based BMI Offshore Bank (BMIO), partly owned by BMI Bank Bahrain, is being converted into a Sharia-compliant bank, it has emerged. This follows a visit to Seychelles by a delegation from BMI Bank, a subsidiary of Al Salam Bank-Bahrain (ASBB), led by the parent’s executive committee chairman Hussein Mohammed Al Meeza along with a number of senior officials. The delegation called on Seychelles President James Alix Michel in the country’s capital Victoria. During the meeting, President Michel hailed initiatives undertaken by BMIO, in which BMI Bank owns a 50 per cent stake.

Women’s needs in banking probed

The Supreme Council for Women (SCW)’s general secretariat held a meeting with Al Salam Bank Bahrain during which the two sides explored means of activating the National Model for the inclusion of women’s needs in banking. The meeting also explored provision of policy and ancillary services for women in the workplace. This included a nursery for children of bank employees after a feasibility study by the bank to determine its need and support for recruitment of handicapped people in financial and banking institutions. The meeting discussed challenges facing women in assuming leading posts and cultural and social issues, especially women’s night-time office duty and their aspirations in career progression.

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