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Connecting International Organisations with finance and of course, Islamic finance

Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations affect Geneva from two major players. The United Nations family being one of the major locations for it and the well known financial industry:

Geographically, on the Right Bank mainly, we have 34 international organizations, 175 state representations, 350 NGOs and about 30,000 jobs. This community has unparalleled know-how in health, development, environment, human rights, etc. Opposite, on the Left Bank we have 104 banks and many other financial intermediaries that generate more than 35'000 workstations.

IslamicFinance.de joined a forum held on June 29 in Geneva, under the joint sponsorship of Sustainable Finance Geneva (SFG), SDG Lab, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Canton of Geneva.

In Geneva and Switzerland, sustainable finance occupies a special place. According to Swiss Sustainable Finance's Swiss Sustainable Finance Report 2018, the total market for sustainable investment in Switzerland has increased by 82% since 2016 to CHF 390.6 billion. The amount of sustainable funds currently represents around 8.7% of the entire Swiss fund market.

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Global Donors Forum September 10-12 London - early bird registation

Dear Reader,

As you probably know Global Donors Forum 2018 will be held in London from September 10-12 under the theme of "Building Resilient Ecosystems". The Forum will be co-hosted with the Cass Business School and City of London Corporation and its various activities of the Forum will take place at the British Museum, Mansion House and House of Lords.

I would be pleased to meet you on this occassion and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. I am member of the steering committee for the event.

The attached shows further details and please note the deadline for early bird registration, which is July 10th.

Best regards,

Michael Gassner

Noor exits $6mln stake in #Pakistan’s Meezan Bank

Noor Financial Investment announced selling 9 million shares or 0.85% of its equity ownership in Meezan Bank, Pakistan's first and largest Islamic bank. The equity transaction is valued at $5.57 million or KWD 1.68 million. Following this exit transaction, Noor currently owns 39.53% equity in Meezan Bank. The financial impact of this transaction will be a profit of KWD 293,000 that will be registered in Noor's income statements of the third quarter of 2018, in addition to an increase of KWD 648,000 in the shareholders' equity rights. In mid-July, Noor announced selling 27.23 million shares or 2.56% of its equity in Meezan Bank at a value of $15.76 million or KWD 4.77 million.

Jaiz to commence disbursement of $20m SMEs #fund

The Managing Director of Jaiz Bank Hassan Usman has said the bank would soon begin the disbursement of the $20m facility for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The bank had in March signed the agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of Private Sector to finance SMEs with $20m (N6.1bn). Usman said the bank would soon begin the disbursement, adding that the fund would be disbursed before the end of the year. He said the bank had commenced a five year strategic plan to provide better services to its customers. For example, the bank had increased its visibility in Lagos by opening more branches and plans to extend to other regions of the country as well.

#Pakistan likely to borrow $4bn loan from Islamic Development Bank: report

Pakistan plans to borrow over $4 billion from the Islamic Development Bank to bolster the country's low level of foreign currency reserves. A senior advisor in Islamabad said the paperwork is all in place. Finance minister-in-waiting Asad Umar has previously said that Pakistan must decide by the end of September if it would go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail out its economy. He reiterated his stance that Pakistan was examining other options as well as the IMF, including loans from friendly countries or remittances from overseas Pakistanis.

Saudi-based ITFC, Federated Investors to launch $300 mln trade finance #fund

The Saudi-based International Islamic Trade Finance Corp (ITFC) plans to launch a $300 million fund alongside U.S. fund manager Federated Investors. The sharia-compliant fund is expected to launch later this year and would invest in energy-related structured trade, supply chain financing and project finance assets of sovereign entities. The fund will be managed by ITFC with input from Federated Investors. The two firms have worked together on Islamic trade finance transactions since 2014.

Cagamas issues RM825m 1-year bond and #sukuk

The National Mortgage Corp of Malaysia (Cagamas) has issued a RM825 million 1-year bond and sukuk comprising RM800 million Conventional Medium Term Notes (CMTN) and RM25 million Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN). Proceeds will be used to fund the purchase of mortgage and Islamic home loans. With this move the aggregate primary issuance by Cagamas has reached RM9.3 billion for 2018, marking a 24% increase in the company's primary supply as compared to 2017's year-to-date total of RM7.5 billion. Cagamas CEO Datuk Chung Chee Leong said the CMTN issue was concluded via reopening of an existing bond tranche which marked the company's second reopening exercise for the year.

Looming economic crisis: #Sukuk, dollar-denominated bonds to be launched, says Asad

Pakistan is considering to launch dollar-denominated bond and Sukuk bond to tap a favorable response from expatriates in order to tackle the looming economic crisis. Finance minister Asad Umar said the coming government will have to take tough decisions in the first six weeks after coming into power. Asad promised to grant independence to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in order to get reliable official data on various sectors of the economy. He pledged to take action on it in the first 100 days of government. The situation has touched such an alarming position as the current account deficit used to be in the range of $2 billion on per annum basis, which now peaked to $2 billion on monthly basis.

Awqaf And Minors Affairs Foundation Adopts #Endowments Investment Policy 2018-2021

The Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) has adopted a three-year Endowments Investment Policy. The board meeting was attended by senior board members who reviewed the achievements of AMAF’s newly appointed Charity Work Committee, Investment Committee, and Endowment Development Committee. In addition, it also reviewed the executive regulations of the Dubai Waqf Law No. 14 of 2017 (Dubai Waqf Law) and Dubai Law No. 9 of 2007 establishing Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation. The Charity Work Committee presented the financial budget for charitable work in 2018, which has exceeded AED74 million to date. Philanthropic projects during the Year of Zayed included the voucher initiative for needy families worth AED700,000, the AED150,000 Umrah initiative, and the AED450,000 Fund for Cancer Patients. AMAF also joined the project of "Modon Al Khair" to contribute AED500,000 towards the construction of homes for low-income people.

#Kazakhstan: Will Astana’s financial gamble pay off?

With the official opening of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), Kazakhstan aims to become the region’s main financial hub. The aspiration is for the center to draw $40 billion in finance by 2025 and in the process rebrand oil-rich Kazakhstan as a financial hotspot. However, at the moment it is very much a work in progress. The stock exchange is not yet trading. According to AIFC chief executive Kairat Kelimbetov, the center will operate according to English common law. A court staffed with English barristers and an arbitration center will be available for dispute resolution. But the sobering reality is that of the 49 companies registered at the AIFC, most are no-names. The mightiest player registered at the AIFC is the China Development Bank, a fact that signals a welcome vote of confidence from Beijing.

Common Shariah norms for Islamic finance still remain a tricky issue

Shariah governance and regulations in Islamic finance remain a diverse topic despite countless initiatives to set a common international framework. There are different approaches towards establishing unified standards. Another issue is that Islamic scholars are often of different opinion on a subject, owing to different interpretations of Islamic laws. In countries with more liberal interpretations of Shariah rules such as Malaysia or Turkey, economic factors will be given more weight at the cost of Shariah principles, which can lead to a conflict of interest. Countries with comprehensive guidelines on Shariah banking are Sudan, Indonesia and Malaysia. Oman, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria also have regulatory bodies and common guidelines. The UAE, Kuwait and Qatar are practising self-regulation of Islamic financial institutions. All this makes a common regulatory structure on Shariah compliance an extremely tricky issue.

#Saudi Arabia’s first #sukuk issuance through primary dealers positive for Islamic capital market development

Saudi Arabia announced the completion of its first sukuk issuance under the primary dealers program. The Saudi government has been a regular issuer of Islamic bonds since the Ministry of Finance established a Saudi riyal-denominated sukuk program last year. In the new primary-dealer system, the Saudi debt management office appointed five local banks to act as primary dealers for local government securities, namely National Commercial Bank, Samba Financial Group, Saudi British Bank, Bank Al-Jazira and Alinma Bank. The appointed primary dealers purchase sukuk sold at auction directly from the government and later place these securities in the secondary market for final investors, acting as market makers for government securities. The government expects that the primary-dealers scheme will develop the local government sukuk market and the debt capital markets in Saudi Arabia.

Islamic Banks' Assets Surge To AED565 Billion In H1 2018

Assets of Islamic banks operating in the UAE amounted to AED565 billion by the end of H1 2018, a 6.7% growth of AED35.5 billion over the corresponding period in 2017. The assets of Islamic banks account for 20.55% of total bank assets in UAE, valued at AED2.749 trillion, by the end of June 2018. The value of credit provided by Islamic Banks during the first half of the year surged to AED367 billion, a growth of 5% against the same period in 2017. Loans and credit facilities provided by Islamic banks made up 22.6% of total loans. Deposits held by Islamic banks amounted to AED392.4 billion, making up 23.3% of total deposits held by UAE banks, estimated at around AED1.7 trillion by the end of June.

Sadiq Khan backs #crowdfunding campaign for pro bono advice app

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has backed a campaign to raise money to boost free legal services to disadvantaged people. The money is being raised on a crowdfunding site for an application that could be made accessible through advice centres and even food banks. According to Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the former president of the Law Society, £25,000 has been raised for the project so far and £2,000 more is needed to launch the six-month pilot this September.

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.

BRIEF-#Qatar Islamic #Insurance Receives C.Bank Nod To Change Name

Qatar Islamic Insurance Company received central bank approval to change its name to Group Islamic Insurance Company. The company also received approval from the central bank to establish a real estate company owned 100 percent by the group.

Albaraka Türk launches mobile-only banking service for Europe's Muslim community

Turkey's Albaraka Türk is targeting Europe's Muslim community with the launch of an interest-free digital banking app. "Insha" is initially being rolled out in Germany ahead of a Europe-wide expansion. It features a document-free account opening process and comes complete with a debit card. In addition to financial products, the app offers a range of Islamic-friendly services including a Zakat Calculator and a "Nearest Mosque" locator. Meliksah Utku, general manager at Albaraka Türk, says that the insha project marks the first step in the bank’s strategic entry into the European market.

Shariah investments continue growth spurt in SE Asia

According to the latest Cerulli Associates research, Shariah-compliant investments are gaining further ground in Asia. Growth continues to be concentrated in South-East Asia, with Malaysia remaining at the forefront with $28.4bn in Shariah mutual fund assets under management (AUM) in 2017. Last year, Malaysia’s Securities Commission launched a five-year blueprint to grow the sector. Indonesia grew its Shariah mutual fund market by 90% to nearly $2bn in AUM in 2017. Besides allowing Shariah funds to fully invest overseas, market regulator Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) recently introduced a framework requiring fund managers to carve out dedicated units to manage existing Shariah funds. The Cerulli survey shows that asset managers in the country expect demand for Shariah investments to come mostly from insurers and pensions over the next few years.

GCC bonds, #sukuk issuance rises by 10 per cent

The aggregate primary issuance of bonds and sukuk by GCC entities increased by 9.64 per cent to $95.25 billion in first half of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017.

GFH fully settles $200m #sukuk

Gulf Finance House (GFH) has fully settled its $200 million (Dh734 million) sukuk, which was originally drawn in 2007. The facility, which had its final maturity in July 2018, has now been settled with a recent payment of an outstanding amount of $34 million. GFH posted a 9% increase in its consolidated net profit for the first quarter to March. The total net profit rose to $36.89 million (Dh135.5 million) in the three months to March up from $33.55 million in the first quarter of 2017.

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