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The world is drowning in debt, warns Goldman Sachs

The world is sinking under too much debt and an ageing global population means countries' debt piles are in danger of growing out of control, the European chief executive of Goldman Sachs Asset Management has warned. Andrew Wilson, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said growing debt piles around the world posed one of the biggest threats to the global economy. The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has also sounded out a warning about Japan's growing debt pile. The Goldman chief also said that warnings about liquidity shortages in the market were being "overplayed", especially with regards to the corporate bond market.

Japan urged to partner Malaysia in tapping Islamic finance market: PM

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today urged Japan to partner Malaysia in engaging in Islamic finance-related activities and tap the huge global market. With Japanese industrial expertise and technology, and Malaysia’s technical expertise in Islamic finance, he said there was an opportunity to establish a formidable alliance. On a much larger scale, he said that in late 2013, China announced the plan to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or AIIB, and currently has 57 charter members and a paid-up capital of US$50 billion.He added that Malaysia understands and respects that Japan has reservations over the AIIB, but regardless of the vehicle, it is apparent that Asian countries need to invest in tangible infrastructure assets.

Moody's: Indonesia's government roadmap will drive Islamic banking consolidation and growth

Moody's Investors Service says that the Indonesian government's (Baa3 stable) Islamic finance roadmap will encourage consolidation among smaller Islamic banks in the country, and foster the development of a larger domestic Sukuk market. The consolidation of state-owned and commercial Islamic banks will increase the size of the banks' capital bases, improve cost efficiencies, and allow increased underwriting in the corporate and infrastructure sectors. Moody's report points out that Islamic banks operate less extensive branch networks when compared to conventional banks, and their capital bases are smaller. Their riskier customer base has led to non-performing financing ratios that are consistently higher than the comparable non-performing loan ratios at conventional banks.

ISRA and SC launch joint publication on "Islamic Capital Markets: principles and practices"

The International Shari'ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) and the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) have launched a joint publication on "Islamic Capital Markets: Principles and Practices." The textbook serves as a vital source of reference to academicians, students and practitioners on the key principles underlying the Islamic capital market operations and its practices. It covers a variety of topics related to Islamic capital markets, including Shari'ah, regulatory and corporate governance frameworks, risk management, accounting and taxation, sukuk, the equity market, unit trust funds, ETFs, REITs, private equity and venture capital, derivatives and structured products. As the co-publisher and co-sponsor of the textbook, the SC is confident that the textbook will enhance the skills of the Islamic capital market talent pool.

Islamic Development Bank's Funding Portfolio in Egypt hit $12.5 billion

The Islamic Development Bank 's total funding portfolio for Egypt has reached US$12.5 billion, including US$3.1 billion in 2014, director country department Mohammad Al-Saati said. The IDB official has referred that his bank had signed financing agreements for important projects in Egypt, including US$450 million for South Helwan power station, US$460 million for Sharm El-Sheikh Airport, and US$220 million for Egyptian-Saudi electricity grid linkage project. Towards bolstering its partnership with Egypt, IDB will sign within the third quarter of this year a new agreement to launch a representative office in the North African country, Al-Saati noted.

Islamic Development Bank affiliate to support Tajik bank’s conversion to sharia compliance

Bonki Rushdi Tojikiston (BRT), based in Tajikistan, has signed an advisory services agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) to process and support its conversion into Shariah-compliant operations. The agreement is designed to develop an advisory process to effectively deliver full conversion by also identifying challenges and addressing impediments. The ICD will dedicate seven key teams across the full conversion process in areas of project management, Shariah compliance, treasury, accounting, human resources, information technology, marketing and legal framework. BRT is hoping to become the leading Shariah-compliant platform in Tajikistan.

Seera Invests in UK Dementia Care Housing Development

Bahrain-based Seera Investment Bank B.S.C. has announced the successful completion of a new transaction in the UK Dementia Care sector. The transaction comprises a Shari'a compliant equity investment in a dementia care focused housing development in London, United Kingdom. The development, the first of its kind, when completed will provide circa 115 housing units providing specialized care to dementia sufferers. The project will be developed over a 3 to 4 year period. The units are expected to be sold over the development period with distribution of substantially all the originally invested capital in the 4th year of investment together with a part of the profits. Upon completion of the development the project will then be held to benefit from the ongoing care revenues.

UAE banks discuss plan for centralised Islamic finance board

The United Arab Emirates' bank industry association has discussed a proposal to create a centralised sharia board that would monitor Islamic banking. The central bank had proposed setting up a Higher Sharia Authority that would complement and oversee the work of sharia boards at individual Islamic banks. Details of the timing and structure of the new entity were not specified. The UAE Banks Federation, which represents 50 banks, also said on Sunday that it had approved the appointment of a new, independent monitoring agency that would help to implement its code of conduct for member institutions. It did not give details.

Saudi Politics Blamed as Market Asks Where Did All the Sukuk Go?

King Salman has reorganized his cabinet, removed princes from government roles, merged ministries and realigned succession since ascending to the throne in January. As a consequence, Saudi companies have yet to market a single security in 2015, making it the country’s quietest start for Islamic sales in nine year. The companies need some stability before they start looking at sukuk-type issuance. Saudi Arabia is pursuing a $130 billion spending plan to diversify its economy away from oil, and has vowed to invest in major infrastructure projects. King Salman’s changes will impact many areas, especially financial markets.

Garuda to fly with dollar debut in sukuk

Indonesian airline Garuda Indonesia has mandated a total of 15 banks to arrange its first dollar outing, which will be executed in sukuk format. The company has chosen National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) as sole global co-ordinator. Dubai Islamic Bank and NBAD are working as joint structuring banks.

Islamic Finance: Confessions of a conventional banker

One serious complaint against the prevalent model of Islamic banking is that interest is being charged in the garb of service fee. In fact loans from Islamic banks are much costlier than those from conventional financial institutions, particularly public sector banks. Thus, one issue that must engage us is that if Islamic banking is a viable alternative for us, how can we justify the collapse of so many Islamic financial institutions in India in recent times. The real problem is that we are not prepared for a reasoned debate. Confusion continues to prevail with sharp division of opinion. The spate of failures of Islamic banks in India have caused untold suffering to small depositors. There is no alternative except to transact with conventional banks.

Halal Expo 2015 opens in Moscow

The Crocus-Expo Center in Moscow has opened Moscow Halal Expo 2015. Over 200 halal companies from Russia and other countries will be presenting their products until May 23. The main theme of the exposition this year will be growth and development of national manufacturers and international commercial and investment relations with the Islamic world. Food, fashion, tourism, financial and medical companies are taking part in Halal Expo this year. Madina Kalimullina, the director of the exposition, explained that one of the main goals of the Halal Expo was to demonstrate development of the halal market in Russia.

MCBAH appoints Shariah Supervisory Board

MCB Arif Habib Savings and Investments Limited ("MCBAH") has announced that it has appointed a Shariah Supervisory Board under the Chairmanship of former Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani for their existing as well as future Shaiah Compliant Mutual Funds, Voluntary Pension Schemes (VPS), Administrative Plans and Shariah Compliant Investment Advisory Mandates. Other members of the Shariah Supervisory Board are Dr Muhammad Zubair Usmani and Dr Ejaz Ahmed Samdani. Apart from advising MCBAH on Shariah matters, the Shariah Board will give expert guidance in introducing and implementing new investment models and products based on international Shariah research.

IILM Re-Issues 3 Month Sukuk

Short term Sukuk rated A-1 by Standard and Poor’s Rating Services (S&P’s) have been issued by the International Islamic Liquidity Management (IILM). IILM order book picks up from previous auction for A-1 rated (S&P) Sukuk. $490m issued from orders received of $1.288 Billion from 10 Bids. IILM sells its Sukuk through its primary dealers, who consist of: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, AlBaraka Turk, CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd, Luxembourg's KBL Private Bankers, Kuwait Finance House, Maybank Islamic Bhd, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Qatar National Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Barwa Bank.

Islamic Finance -- a Potent Tool to Address Most Pressing of Development Challenges

Not only is Islamic finance gaining broader recognition in financial markets, it's also becoming a viable "alternative" source of funding to address pressing developmental challenges, eliminate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity in developing and emerging economies. Islamic finance can make significant contributions to economic development, given its direct link to physical assets and the real economy. Moreover, by expanding the range and reach of financial products, Islamic finance could help improve financial access and foster the inclusion of those who are now deprived of financial services. Islamic finance also helps strengthen financial stability. However, the industry will also need to address several challenges.

Indonesia sells US$2b global sukuk in largest-ever offering

Indonesia completed its largest-ever global sukuk sale, selling US$2 billion of Islamic bonds at the lowest yield in three years. The Finance Ministry issued the notes at 4.325 per cent, lower than the initial 4.55 per cent indicated, Robert Pakpahan, director general at the budget financing and risk management office, said in a text message on Friday. That compares with the 4.35 per cent rate paid on similar Shariah-compliant debt sold last year and the record-low 3.3 per cent on 10-year sukuk issued in 2012.

Bank Asya has not sent all required documents - Turkish banks watchdog

Islamic lender Bank Asya has not yet filed all the documents sought by Turkey's banking watchdog BDDK after the regulators took over the bank's management and seized a small stake in it earlier this year, BDDK head Mehmet Ali Akben said on Wednesday. The government has said the management of the bank, founded by followers of President Tayyip Erdogan's ally-turned-foe Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, was taken over because it failed to meet some legal criteria.

Innovations in Islamic Finance 2015: New finance for a growing continent

With expanding economies and hundreds of million Muslims, Africa deserves to be a bigger part of Islamic finance. After a slow start, there are signs the sector is beginning to gain the crucial mass and legislative backing it needs. Senegal's CFAFr 100 billion ($200 million) debut last June was Africa's biggest,ever sovereign sukuk, attracting both local and international buyers. South Africa followed in September with a $500 million 5.75-year deal that was only the third-ever sukuk issued by a non-Muslim majority country. Those in the industry argue that Africa's new-found visibility as a market for Islamic finance is long overdue.

BankIslami starts hiring program for former KASB staff

BankIslami Pakistan Limited formally started an Internal Hiring program for former KASB employees to help them assimilate better in the amalgamated entity. While interacting with former KASB employees at the launching ceremony of the Internal Hiring initiative, Mr. Hasan A Bilgrami, CEO BankIslami, reiterated that the Bank shall ensure maximum job security and adjust the staff in internal placements by training them in Islamic Banking as well as other job related skill set.

Babacan praises Islamic banking model

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said on Wednesday that the growth of Islamic banking would strengthen Turkey’s financial system, praising the rapid growth of Islamic banks. Speaking at the 14th General Assembly meeting of the Participation Banks Association of Turkey in Istanbul, Babacan said the latest global economic crisis showed that interest-free financial methods are much more reliable, much more stable, and much more robust. His remarks came after one of Turkey's largest state-controlled banks, Ziraat Bank, was authorized by the country's banking regulator to start operations in its Islamic banking division last week. He also stated that an insurance system should also be developed using interest-free practice

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