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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

AAOIFI holds public event

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) held a public hearing of two of its standards hosted by Banque du Liban (BDL) (Central bank of Lebanon) in Beirut, Lebanon. AAOIFI also held its 10th meeting of the AAOIFI Accounting Board (AAB), where the Board deliberated on the Exposure Draft on Ijarah and Ijarah Muntahia Bittamleek, and the Standards Review and Revision Project. Several public hearings for AAOIFI standards have earlier taken place in Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and future public hearings will be held during 2018 in different parts of the world to obtain industry feedback on other exposure drafts already issued by AAOIFI.

#Kuwait bank in #merger talks to create $92bn Islamic lender

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) is seeking to hold talks with Bahrain's Ahli United Bank (AUB) for a potential merger. This would create an Islamic lender with about $92 billion of assets, six months after negotiations broke down. KFH sent a letter inviting Ahli United to sign a memorandum of understanding and a non-disclosure agreement to start valuation studies. The deal may provide a boost to debt-laden Bahrain, as the country struggles to cope with lower oil prices. According to Joice Mathew, the head of equity research at United Securities, the integration of business could be challenging because of the geographical dispersion of their assets and combination of Islamic and conventional banking.

New Saudi bankruptcy law 'tries to find balance' between investor and creditor interest

Saudi Arabia’s new bankruptcy law will come into effect in late August and aims to attract foreign and domestic investment in private businesses. The new law is designed to outline bankruptcy proceedings and will offer protection to creditors and embattled companies seeking to conduct their affairs without fear of asset seizure. According to lawyer Dario Najm, an associate in Ahmad bin Hezeem & Associates, the new law allows indebted corporations to maintain their operations while gradually settling their debts. Creditors and debtors will enter into agreements on debt payment schedules. When implemented, the law will be the sole regulation covering bankruptcy, effectively replacing previous rules passed in 1996.

New products, standards buoy Islamic trade finance business

Islamic trade finance is poised for change with the launch of new products and common standards. Islamic banks have been laggards in trade finance but some see a business opportunity here. According to the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), digital tools such as blockchain can support this by helping to lower costs and speed up sharia-compliant transactions. Islamic trade finance is estimated at around $186 billion, compared to the $4.4 trillion worth of trade finance activity in Muslim-majority countries. Some firms are now introducing digital Islamic trade finance platforms. Emirates Islamic Bank has already launched its online supply chain tool. There is also a push towards standardisation of practices. The Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (BAFT) and the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) are developing standard documentation for both Islamic-funded and unfunded trade finance deals.

KIB closing its $250 mln #Murabaha

Kuwait International Bank (KIB) closed a $250 million 3-year syndicated Murabaha financing facility. The financing was concluded with a consortium of international and local banks that includes Standard Chartered Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, National Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait Finance House and Boubyan Bank. The ceremony to mark the occasion was attended by KIB's top management led by Mohamed Said El Saka, Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Acting CEO. He said that this new facility will help KIB continue pursuing its strategic objectives to strengthen the Bank’s position as a leading Islamic bank in Kuwait.

BIMB Invest eyes RM100m for Shariah-ESG #fund within 1 year

BIMB Invest is expected to achieve a subscription of RM100 million of its BIMB-Arabesque ValueCAP Malaysia Shariah-ESG Equity Fund within a year. The fund was launched together with Arabesque Asset Management and ValueCAP and approved by the Securities Commission Malaysia. As the fund is mainly targeted at corporate and institutional investors, BIMB Invest is hoping to get the likes of pension funds, insurance and takaful firms on board. The fund will invest in about 100 local listed companies that are Shariah-compliant as well as in line with ESG practices. It will analyse the ESG factors of each company using Arabesque’s proprietary methodology, the Arabesque S-Ray, which daily assesses the performance of companies.

How Islamic finance can manage rupiah stability

According to the Jakarta Interbank Spot Dollar Rate, the rupiah dropped to a new low of 14,418 against the US dollar on July 3. In the last few weeks, all emerging markets showed an increase in foreign currency volatility. Since April 2018, there has been capital outflow from the Indonesian bond market amounting to almost US$1.9 billion. Solving this problem can be done in two steps. First, sensitivity to capital outflow must be reduced by reducing dependency toward it. Second, capital inflow is needed that is less sensitive to global externalities. Islamic finance may contribute to financial stability, as all transactions must be asset-backed. The principle of risk-sharing between counterparties will help prevent excessive risk-taking. Islamic finance can also help create rupiah stability through its various sharia-compliant instruments, which could attract global investors.

#Malaysia: BIMB Investment targets RM100m for Shariah equity fund

BIMB Investment is targeting RM100 million in subscription for its newly launched BIMB-Arabesque ValueCAP Malaysia Shariah-ESG Equity Fund. The fund will be invested in 100 local shariah compliant companies listed on Bursa Malaysia. BIMB Investment CEO Najmuddin Mohd Lutfi said the investments would be based on selected companies that have strong financial standing. He said companies who are interested to increase their social responsible investment (SRI) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) portfolios should also tap into this fund.

Why we rejected N21.5bn #Sukuk bond – #Niger speaker

Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Alhaji Ahmed Marafa Guni, has explained why the house rejected to access N21.5 billon Sukuk bond for infrastructure development. He said the house discovered a lot of discrepancies in the bond deal and, therefore, decided to send it back to the Executive. He added there were hidden costs in the loan which would tie down the state for several years. The speaker said the sukuk request could still be re-presented if those discrepancies are addressed. The government said it had asked the assembly to stay action on the request because of insinuations that the money was meant for the 2019 general election campaign.

Apply for Islamic Development Bank undergraduate scholarship by 21 August

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced the availability of scholarships for Muslim Community in India to pursue undergraduate studies in India. The scholarship may cover tuition fees and/or monthly stipends, books & clothing allowance and medical coverage through public or university sponsored hospitals. Major fields at undergraduate level include Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Engineering, Agriculture, Information Technology, Economics, Education, Psychology and Learning, Education Policy and International Development.

Gulf banking transparency on the rise - study

Non-credit ratings agency Sigma Ratings found that Gulf countries outperform many Latin American and European countries in transparency and compliance. Among the most transparent banks in the region are Emirates Islamic Bank, Al Hilal Bank, the National Bank of RAK, Sharjah Islamic Bank, and the Arab Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade. According to Sigma Ratings CEO Stuart Jones, non-credit risk ratings were badly needed on factors like governance, compliance and financial crime risks. Jones added that specifically the GCC countries seem to be over-performing in the region, and there is lot of positive movement with regards to these countries.

Official Launch of the IFSB Islamic Financial Services Industry Stability Report 2018 at the Astana Islamic Economy Forum

Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) officially launched the sixth edition of the Islamic Financial Services Industry (IFSI) Stability Report 2018. The Secretary-General of the IFSB, Dr. Bello Lawal Danbatta highlighted some of the key findings of the 2018 Report, particularly the rising domestic systemic significance of Islamic finance in many key jurisdictions. According to the report, the global IFSI has returned to a robust growth of 8.3%, following two years of growth stagnation. While Islamic capital markets marked a strong performance in 2017 on the back of sovereign sukuk issuances, some underlying weaknesses persisted from the previous year, including those in the corporate sukuk market. The takaful sector continues to face challenges as a result of stiff competition from larger and more established insurance companies.

#Maldives launch first Islamic finance magazine: ‘Laaba’ to act as a platform to engage regional & global industry developments

Maldives Center for Islamic Finance (MCIF) has launched Laaba, the first publication in the archipelago dedicated to Islamic finance. The magazine aims to be the first platform in South Asia to bring together regional hubs with global partners in engaging knowledge and sharing ideas. The first issue has embraced the theme of responsible and ethical finance and how this is aligned with Islamic finance. Laaba also includes exclusive interviews with CEOs across Maldives financial institutions, including the Maldives Islamic Bank, Maldives Capital Markets Development Authority and Amana Takaful.

Savings Status Quo Challenged As 79% Of Shariah-Compliant Accounts Now Beat The Market

Gatehouse Bank surveyed eight different types of account: easy access, 1, 2, 3 and 5 Year Fixed Term and 30, 60 and 90 Day Notice accounts. It found average returns on Shariah-compliant savings products trumped their mainstream counterparts on all account types bar one, easy access. Overall, the average rate on Shariah-compliant products was 1.54% while the average for mainstream accounts was 1.29%, a difference of 0.25%. All but three of the 14 Shariah-compliant accounts surveyed beat the market average. Shariah-compliant savings accounts in the UK are growing in popularity, amongst both Muslim and non-Muslim savers. According to Gatehouse Bank CEO Charles Haresnape, what we’re seeing is the emergence of a genuine challenge to the UK savings establishment.

IFSB launches 2018 financial services industry stability report

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has launched the 2018 Islamic Financial Services Industry (IFSI) Stability Report. The Secretary-General of the IFSB, Dr. Bello Lawal Danbatta, highlighted some of the key findings of the 2018 Report, particularly the rising domestic systemic significance of Islamic finance in key jurisdictions. The study found that the global IFSI has returned to a robust growth of 8.3%, following two years of growth stagnation. In addition, the IFSI surpassed the $2 trillion mark as of the end of 2017. The report also states that the growth of the industry in 2017 was actively driven by all three sectors of the IFSI, but with a significant contribution by the performance of the Islamic capital markets boosted by Sukuk issuances from sovereign and multilateral institutions.

#China’s support is critically instrumental in developing Islamic finance

While China and Arab countries discuss ways to develop their bilateral ties, #Kazakhstan aims to become a new global financial hub. At the newly established Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) an economic event was carried out between July 3rd and 5th to talk about the main issues of global finance. Experts have emphasized China has a priority role in the global economy and that China’s support can be very instrumental in the development of Islamic Finance. Kazakhstan has also positioned itself to take advantage of China’s Belt and Road initiative as it strived to draw investors from Central Asian countries as well as from the Arab world. Lawyers have also stressed that because the newly formed Astana International Exchange will be operating under the principles of English common law, it will create even more opportunities for collaboration between Central Asian countries and the Arab world.

ADIB launches 100% capital protected green notes

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) launched a 100% capital protected smart and green energy equities basket note. The investment note, which matures in 12 months, is open for subscription until July 28, with a 31% participation rate in the upside positive performance. According to Saif Al Keem, Head of Wealth Management & Priority Banking at ADIB, this new note from ADIB focuses on equities that are driving investments in clean technology and manufacturing smart energy on a global scale. There is a growing demand for solutions which can capture and store energy generated from wind and solar power, which provides significant opportunities for the manufacturers of efficient battery technology.

Blockchain platform-as-a-service for Islamic finance launched

Blockchain experts ArabianChain Technology and Curiositas will offer blockchain-based smart contracts and legal automation for Islamic finance products. The 'Wethaq' platform is targeting Islamic capital markets, acting as a platform-as-a-service for financial institutions, fundraisers and investors to use in the trading of sukuk products. Wethaq is expected to see issuance of its first Smart Ijara in the first half of 2019. The joint venture will combine Curiositas' legal automation and financial engineering expertise with ArabianChain's Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Protocol and smart contracts. According to Dimitrios Vourakis, Managing Director of Curiositas, Wethaq separates the essential structuring services provided by financial institutions from additional services such as custodianship and payments, and offers the latter on its automated platform.

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