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OECD: Encourages changes in the mode of finance, away from debt towards equity

Credit intermediation and stock markets have hugely expanded over the past half-century. Since the 1960s, credit by banks and other financial institutions to households and businesses has grown three times as fast as economic activity. Stock markets have expanded, too, but starting from a lower base and at a much slower pace, so that today their value equals 65% of GDP, a little more than half that of financial sector credit.

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Improving the structure and composition of finance is as important as avoiding credit booms for the health of our economies. Facilitating stock market funding through ***lowering the costs of equity floatation and making taxation more neutral between debt and equity, is linked with higher GDP growth (Figure 1). Hence, encouraging changes in the mode of finance, away from debt and towards equity,*** would be particularly powerful in raising economic activity. [page 2 link below]

Moody's holds its first Banking and Islamic Finance Workshop in Bahrain

Moody's Investors Service will hold its first Banking and Islamic Finance Workshop in Bahrain on Wednesday 2nd of September. The workshop will focus on Bahrain's banking sector amid low oil prices and global headwinds. It ill kick-off with a presentation from Jean-Francois Tremblay, Associate Managing Director, Financial Institutions Group, surrounding key global developments within credit markets. The workshop will also provide Moody's assessment of the local operating environment and the creditworthiness of banks in Bahrain and the rest of the region. In addition, the workshop will also discuss the latest developments in the Islamic Finance sector as well as growths trends and liquidity management challenges.

SUKUK PIPELINE - Issue plans around the world

The Thomson Reuters Global Sukuk Index is at 117.69120 points, down from 118.20147 at the end of last month but up from 115.79726 at the end of last year. The Thomson Reuters Investment Grade Sukuk Index is at 116.46023 against 116.92144 at end-July and 113.69014 at end-2014. Some of the sukuk in the pipeline are: Malaysia's Tenaga Nasional Bhd said in late August it would raise up to 10 billion ringgit ($2.39 billion) with sukuk to build and operate a power plant project. International Finance Corp, a unit of the World Bank, planned to meet fixed income investors from Aug. 31 ahead of a potential issue of U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk. Aluminium Bahrain is seeking a credit rating ahead of talks with banks about fund-raising.

Ibdar Bank appoints new CFO Janaka Mendis further strengthening management team

Bahrain-based Ibdar Bank has announced the appointment of Mr. Janaka Mendis as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Bank. Mr. Mendis shall provide leadership in attaining the established financial goals of the Bank through managing and operating all financial-related functions. He oversees the Bank's finance, financial strategy, and operational activities, ensuring that Ibdar is well positioned, both financially and strategically, to achieve its transformation agenda. Prior to joining Ibdar, Mr. Mendismost recently spent seven years at Al Salam Bank Bahrain. For four of these years, he served as the institution's Chief Operating Officer after holding other executive roles.

GFH Financial says returns $53 million to investors

Bahrain’s GFH Financial Group has distributed dividends of $53 million to its funds’ investors, from investments in Bahrain, the UAE, US and India. In line with it's new strategy, GFH has spent the last 18 months investing in projects intended to provide steady cash yields for investors, the company said. For example, Diversified US Residential Portfolio (DURP) – an investment in US residential assets – distributed dividends of $1.3 million to investors. The portfolio comprises two multiple-dwelling residential properties, one in Houston, the other in Atlanta, with 1,300 apartments in total and 95 percent occupancy. Earlier this month, the group reported net profit of $13.6 million in the first six months of 2015.

Primary education: IDB to construct 300 schools in AJK

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will construct 300 schools across Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to promote primary education in far-flung areas. IDB Programmed Head Shafat Hussain told a meeting of the AJK Planning and Development Department here on Sunday that besides constructing schools in remote areas, teachers of these institutes will also be provided special training. Hussain told the meeting that the project aimed to provide better education facilities to deserving children in far-flung and distant areas. AJK Director Education Syeda Geelani, Director Research Najeebur Rehman and other officials attended the meeting.

Strong Year for Islamic Lending for Gulf Banks

Banks in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council can thank turbulence in the world’s bond markets for spurring Islamic lending to the highest in three years. Loans that comply with Islam’s ban on interest in the GCC have risen 22 per cent this year to $11.9 billion, the most since 2012. At the same time sales of sukuk dropped 41 per cent to $6.9 billion. The increase in lending will be welcome for banks in the region, where oil’s more than 50 per cent decline in the past 12 months threatens to curtail government spending and clip economic growth. Volatility in US Treasury yields is averaging the highest since 2011 after several global developments, including Greece and China.

Turkiye Finans, Albaraka Turk apply for lira sukuk

Turkish Islamic lenders Turkiye Finans Katilim Bankasi and Albaraka Turk have applied separately to issue Islamic bonds, according to Turkey's Capital Markets Board. Turkiye Finans has applied to raise up to 1.5 billion lira ($513.2 million) through its wholly-owned unit, TF Varlik Kiralama. No tenor or details of underlying assets were given for the deal, which could be sold as a public offering or to qualified investors. Albaraka Turk, a unit of Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group, has also applied to raise up to 1 billion lira through its asset-leasing company, Bereket Varlik Kiralama. The bulk of sukuk issuance in Turkey has come from the government and the country's Islamic banks, although corporate issuance is also growing.

Measuring progress on financial and digital inclusion

Financial inclusion can be achieved via traditional banking offerings, but also through digital financial services such as mobile money, among other innovative approaches. The Brookings Financial and Digital Inclu­sion Project (FDIP) Report and Scorecard seeks to help answer a set of fundamental questions about today’s global financial inclusion efforts. To answer these questions, Brookings experts John D. Villasenor, Darrell M. West, and Robin J. Lewis analyzed finan­cial inclusion in 21 geographically, economically, and politically diverse countries. This year’s report and scorecard is the first of a series of annual reports examining financial inclusion activities and assessing usage of financial services in selected countries around the world.

Moody's affirms Masraf Al Rayan's issuer ratings: outlook now positive from stable

Moody's Investors Service has affirmed Masraf Al Rayan's (MAR) A2/Prime-1 issuer ratings and baa3 baseline credit assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA. At the same time, Moody's changed the outlook on the bank's long term issuer ratings to positive from stable. The change in the outlook to positive from stable reflects the ongoing improvements in MAR's business and geographic diversification, including the growth and transition to profitability of its recently acquired subsidiary Al Rayan Bank PLC based in UK. Further underpinning Moody's view on the outlook is Qatar's considerable economic strength, with robust growth prospects driven by the significant wealth and resources of the country, despite lower oil prices.

Asia Islamic bonds turn to losses as the confidence in leaders ebbs

Dollar sukuk returns are turning into losses in Asia’s biggest Islamic finance markets as confidence in government leaders sours amid a regional sell off. Indonesia’s Shariah-compliant sovereign bonds due in 2024 have dropped 3.8% since April and the 2025 Malaysian debt lost 2.6%, compared with a 2.4% decline in a Bloomberg index of emerging-market conventional government notes. In that period, the rupiah plunged 6.4%, and the ringgit 13%. Both countries are grappling with an economic slowdown, falling commodity-export prices and capital outflows as the US prepares to raise interest rates. The reality is, investors have had to resign themselves to stagnant growth, so they were let down after buying into the story.

Bank Muscat Meethaq upgrades Islamic core banking system

Meethaq has upgraded its core banking system, resulting in a host of Islamic banking services covering ATM/CDM, debit card and mobile banking for Meethaq customers. Meethaq now functions with the new iMal core banking system. The implementation of the system is the result from the partnership between the bank and Path Solutions. iMAL is a Shari’ah-compliant core banking system certified by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). It is an integrated, modular Islamic banking suite with full functionality, including retail, corporate, investment, trade finance, and treasury modules.

Dubai’s Noor Bank to help arrange Indonesian sukuk

Noor Bank is looking to Indonesia, Turkey and other international markets to escape tougher competition at home and take advantage of a booming global Sharia-compliant finance industry. Thus, Noor Bank plans to help arrange a sukuk or Islamic private placement on behalf of the Indonesian government, with the Dubai-based Islamic finance institution also underwriting part of the deal. Officials declined to specify the amount of the new sukuk but said it would be dollar based and would include other underwriters. The issue will help strengthen Indonesia's forex reserves and help Bank Indonesia maintain the stability of its exchange rate, Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said.

Jordan-based Al Baraka bank returns ‘‘suspicious’’ Libyan transfer ‘‘funding terrorism’’

The Tripoli-based Libyan Audit Bureau has confirmed that Jordan based Al Baraka bank has returned a transfer from Libya for being ‘‘suspicious’’ and for ‘‘funding terrorism’’. The transfer originating from the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) were intended to cover Libyan student scholarships in Jordan. The Audit Bureau revealed that it had, in cooperation with the Ministry of Higher Education and the CBL, opened an independent bank account for the Cultural Attaché at its Amman embassy specifically for scholarship funds. However, the Audit Bureau admitted that the Libyan embassy broke procedures and regulations and an agreement by using the funds on other spending rather than for student scholarships.

Gulf bonds start to lose safe-haven status in cheap oil era

For several years, bonds from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council appeared almost immune to global instability, handily outperforming debt from other emerging markets. Unlike most of the world, GCC governments enjoyed big budget surpluses. But as oil hits new six-year lows, most of those surpluses have vanished. Economists expect all GCC states to post fiscal deficits this year, and half of them to post current account deficits. So investors are starting to re-examine their assumptions about the Gulf, and during the last two weeks of global market turmoil, GCC bonds have not escaped a general emerging markets sell-off.

World Bank's IFC gets preliminary top rating for $100 mln sukuk

The International Finance Corp (IFC), the World Bank's lender to the private sector, has received a preliminary AAA rating from Standard & Poor's for a proposed $100 million issuance of sukuk. Proceeds of the sukuk would be used to purchase a portfolio of diversified sharia compliant receivables and other assets, the credit rating agency said in a statement. The transaction would match the size of the last sukuk issued by IFC in 2009, a five-year deal which was listed on the Dubai and Bahrain bourses. The latest sukuk from IFC would rank on the same level as other senior unsecured financial obligations from the multilateral lender, S&P said.

Albaraka Türk nears close for $400m murabaha deal

Turkish participation bank Albaraka Türk is set to close books for its $400m-equivalent murabaha loan next week. Albaraka Turk is expected to sign the loan in mid-September, according to a banker on the deal. The $400m-equivalent deal has one year and two year tranches in euros and dollars.

Islamic windows should become full subsidiaries: Bank Nizwa CEO

More full-fledged Islamic banks are needed and the Islamic banking services of conventional banks should be converted into full subsidiaries if Oman were to fully embrace the Islamic finance concept in its entirety, says Dr Jamil El Jaroudi, CEO at Bank Nizwa. It would also eliminate potential regulatory arbitrage between conventional banking and Islamic banking that could harm or raise doubt on the Sharia aspects, he added. The Islamic windows' cost of doing business and relying on their parent banks’ infrastructure resulted in a disadvantage for the business of fully-fledged banks. Nonetheless, the windows have yet to reach their critical sizes to be able to justify conversion into standalone banks.

World Bank's IFC to meet investors on sukuk issue

International Finance Corp (IFC), a unit of the World Bank, plans to meet fixed income investors starting on Monday ahead of a potential issue of U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk. IFC, rated Aaa/AAA by international rating agencies, has picked Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered Bank to arrange the investor meetings. The meetings will be held in the Middle East, with a possible sukuk issue to follow subject to market conditions. No details about the size of the issue or maturity were given. The sukuk will be listed on Nasdaq Dubai and an application will also be made for a subsequent listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Terror Award Against Iranian Bank Upheld

After a Hamas-sponsored cafeteria bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a federal complaint was filed against Iran's central bank in Washington D.C., that ended in a $12.9 million judgment against the republic. Other lawsuits alleging that Iran bankrolled terrorism followed, leading to awards of $20 million for a bombing of a Jerusalem restaurant, $350 million for a 1990 mass shooting, and $590 million for the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Bank Melli has set forth numerous creative arguments as to why it shouldn't be liable for Iran's debt. However, the Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday that those arguments cannot save it from paying nearly $17.6 million to the victims of terrorist attacks in Israel, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

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