Pakistani lender Summit Bank Limited has inaugurated its first Islamic banking branch in Karachi and announced that it will transform all operations into Shariah mode in next three years. Hussain Lawai, President and CEO Summit Bank, said the bank's investors have injected Rs 1 billion fresh equity for Shariah-based operations. The management has decided to make efforts for conversion of branches from conventional to Islamic mode, instead of opening new branches. As per the roadmap in the first phase Summit Bank Islamic branches will be set up in four major cities - Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad - during this year, he added. The bank set a target of 30 percent growth for Shariah business and as per its estimates it will be over 20 percent during this year.
Asya Katilim Bankasi AS (ASYAB), the Istanbul-based lender caught in a feud between the government and an Islamic movement, fell to its lowest in more than three weeks as Turkish Airlines (THYAO) said it was no longer using the bank. THYAO didn't say where it had transferred its deposits. As a result, Bank Asya’s shares declined 4.1 percent at 12:24 p.m. in Istanbul. The market may be concerned that Turkish Airlines removing deposits may have a negative impact on the funding structure of the bank. However, it was known in the market that THY took out large deposits before, so the market’s probably overreacting at the moment. The bank has lost 41 percent since Dec. 16, and its price-to-book ratio of 0.43 is the lowest in an index of 16 listed Turkish lenders.
The Shariah-focused independent wealth organisation Mahal Thqa has opened in Dubai. The firm is a joint venture between Middle Eastern financial consultants Mondial and US-based venture capital organisation Shariah Capital. It will be lead by chief executive Sadi Hassouneh and will focus on the Middle East’s Arabic-speaking population offering Islamic investment solutions and fund alternatives. Thqa’s investment approach will be based on protecting and growing its client’s capital over the medium-to-long-term and seeks to avoid the “boom-and-bust” results associated with specific asset class risk.
Like all financial services, Islamic finance needs an appropriate supervisory framework and legislation is often the first step towards opening a new market. Financial institutions also need to ensure they have sufficient shariah expertise and advice to develop appropriate products. Three factors are driving the market’s growth. First, it is becoming part of normal retail and corporate banking in core Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia. Second, its growth appeals to other markets, particularly in the Muslim world. The third driver is innovation. In the end, greater availability of sukuk offers more choice to companies and investors and allows issuers to offer products tailored to specific needs.
Oman's Bank Nizwa has partnered with the Ministry of Endowment and Religious affairs to create a seamless opportunity for customers to pay their Zakat. Customers can now easily transfer the required amount from their accounts into the allocated Ministry of Religious Affairs account at Bank Nizwa . They can also deposit cash directly into this account. Customers who regularly wish to transfer Zakat can set up a standing order. Bank Nizwa customers who choose to pay their Zakat through the afore mentioned Bank Account are assured of a waiver of fees on all standing orders linked to this account. There are also fee waivers on internal, local and International transfers associated with this account.
Dubai World has prepaid $284.5 million (Dh1 billion) to creditors under its $25 billion debt restructuring plan. The conglomerate reportedly obtained money for the prepayment from asset sales. Under the terms of the restructuring deal, cash raised from asset sales above a threshold of $300 million is to be distributed as early repayments to creditors, which include big Western and Gulf banks. Last December, a unit of Dubai World sold its 50 percent stake in Miami Beach's landmark Fontainebleau hotel. The price was not disclosed, but Dubai World originally had paid $375 million for the stake in 2008. Moreover, Nakheel said last month it was repaying Dh2.35 billion ($640 million) of bank debt 18 months ahead of its maturity in September 2015.
Indonesia's finance ministry sold Rp 19.3 trillion ($1.7 billion) of the three-year Islamic bonds to households, exceeding its Rp 18.5 trillion goal. That came after two of its three Shariah-compliant debt auctions this year failed to meet their targets. The yield on the non-retail 10.25 percent sukuk due 2025 slid 29 basis points this week to 8.61 percent, the lowest since November. Indonesia is targeting Rp 57 trillion of Islamic bond sales this year and wants to sell most of that this half before a presidential vote in July. The next offer is scheduled for March 11.
Saudi-based Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Morocco’s Al-Ajial Funds (Al-Ajial). Through this partnership, ICD and Al-Ajial Funds will establish a framework of cooperation in order to co-invest in potential projects within Morocco’s private sectors. The ICD is particularly interested in Al-Ajial Funds’ experience in supporting Morocco’s private sector, according to ICD chief executive Khaled Al-Aboodi.
The UK’s maiden sovereign sukuk issue was announced with considerable fanfare in October, and appears to be making progress. But the UK Treasury is not in a rush, and market participants are beginning to wonder why there is a delay. The sukuk will now reportedly take place in the "next financial year" – that is, no earlier than April 5, and potentially not even this year. Sajid Javid, MP, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said that it is very important that the UK has looked at everything in fine detail before issuing its first sukuk. Javid also confirmed that, for the moment, the UK only intends to issue one sukuk. This is a one-off issuance, not a long-term programme, and its main purpose is not financing for the government, but to develop the UK as a financial centre.
Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has denied allegations of a link between his recent settlement with Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (BIMB) over a RM66 million loan and a controversial water restructuring agreement between Selangor and Putrajaya. Last month, Khalid told The Malay Mail Online he had reached an out-of-court settlement with BIMB over a US$18.52 million (RM66.67 million) loan settlement suit, without compromising PKR or the PR coalition. He declined to give further details but it is understood that the settlement was for an amount much lower than RM66.67 million. The hastily signed MoU on the water restructuring plans between Selangor and Putrajaya has added to the intrigue surrounding the March 23 Kajang by-election, with some PKR leaders questioning the timing of the deal and Khalid’s suit settlement.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended the governor of the country’s central bank, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, on charges of “financial recklessness and misconduct” and “far-reaching irregularities.” The dismissal followed by days Sanusi’s claim that $20 billion in oil revenues was missing from government accounts. The president’s insistence that the move had nothing to do with Sanusi’s whistleblowing is not convincing. An investigation 18 months ago reportedly concluded that tens of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue was missing from 2002 to 2012. No investigation followed up on these allegations and no prosecutions resulted. Not surprisingly, there has been an outflow of currency since the dismissal of Sanusi and a sharp plunge in the value of the national currency.
Attijariwafa Bank, one of the biggest banks in North Africa, will boost its Islamic subsidiary as soon as the Islamic finance bill passes parliament. Morocco's parliament has started to discuss a bill regulating Islamic banks and sukuk issues after months of delays, after the Islamist-led government adopted it last month. Parliament's approval will be the last step before fully-fledged Islamic banks can be established in Morocco. However, a revolution in the Moroccan banking sector is not expected since the market is very competitive, and Moroccans are too sensitive to product prices. Islamic finance banks are called participative banks under the Moroccan legislation.
A significant number of family offices (FOs) of wealthy Middle Eastern patriarchs are looking for suitable investment opportunities while fund managers are seeking to raise capital from this potentially lucrative market. A number of FOs (both Muslim and non-Muslim) have been instructed by their clients to allocate money to investment funds which generally bode well within the context of Shariah principles. Middle Eastern FOs or other direct investors also increasingly demand quality and timely service provision. Therefore, many FOs are interested in Guernsey as a place to allocate investments. On the other hand, the attraction of Guernsey for the fund managers is that it can provide a European platform which is not actually in the EU and therefore can offer flexibility and proportionality.
Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House (GFH) has announced the signing of two development agreements for real estate development in India. The flagship investment of GFH in India is the Energy City and Mumbai IT & Telecom City (India Project) developments in New Mumbai, the agreement of which was signed with Wadhwa Group. The second agreement was agreed with Adani Infrastructure & Developers , to explore development opportunities in relation to various infrastructure and real estate projects in India. Adani Infrastructure & Developers will be partnering with Asiastar City Holdings to develop the Phase 2 of GFH’s India Project.
Saudi investment bank NCB Capital has appointed Sarah Al-Suhaimi as CEO and member of the board subject to CMA approval. Tariq Linjawi, who had been acting CEO, is leaving the firm having successfully managed the organization through a transition period. Al-Suhaimi joins, following CMA approval, from Jadwa Investment where she was head of asset management and CIO, managing over SR17 billion of assets in public and private equity, real estate and fixed income. Sarah is the vice chairperson of the advisory committee to the CMA and is a graduate of King Saud University, with a Bachelor of Administrative Science degree in accounting.
The need for large investment in infrastructure – roads, railways, ports and housing – offers opportunities for Islamic finance, notably in Asia and emerging markets in general. However, Islamic finance needs an appropriate supervisory framework, and legislation is often the first step towards opening a new market. The market’s growth is driven by three factors: First, it is becoming part of normal retail and corporate banking in core Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia. Second, its growth appeals to other markets, particularly in the Muslim world. The third driver is innovation. Looking forward, the Islamic Economy is developing quickly. As consumption drives increased trade and economic links and the Islamic economy grows, new opportunities will require financing.
Kenya's financial regulator has proposed a separate regulatory framework for Islamic financial institutions as part of a broad ten-year strategy designed to boost capital markets. A draft of the strategy was circulated early this year and the plan is now in its final stages of preparation. It aims to promote more sophisticated financial services in Kenya. In the short term, the CMA plans to create a regulatory framework of its own for Islamic capital markets, focusing on corporate governance, information disclosure, a policyholder compensation fund and responsible pricing. In the long term, however, the CMA would engage the central bank and national Treasury to develop a separate policy, legislative and regulatory framework for Islamic finance.
Bahrain's central bank governor Rasheed al-Maraj has said he expected further bank consolidation this year after a spree of tie-ups in 2013. The central bank has been encouraging smaller lenders to merge to bolster institutions weakened by a local real estate crash and fall-out from the island kingdom's political unrest in 2011, which has continued sporadically since then. In 2013, there were four separate examples of consolidation in the Bahraini banking sector, further tie-ups are expected to be announced by the end of the year. Moreover, the regulator is encouraging Islamic banks in the kingdom to get credit ratings to improve transparency. Maraj added he expected all banks would have a rating in the next two years.
Bahrain’s Al Salam Bank has launched a listed sharia-compliant real estate investment trust (REIT) that will invest in a portfolio of Asian properties. The REIT will invest in between 15 and 35 properties and be managed by Swiss-based B&I Capital AG, with Al Salam providing seed capital for the fund. The Islamic lender did not reveal the expected size of the fund. Al Salam was an anchor investor in the Sabana Industrial REIT, which was listed on the Singapore exchange in 2010 and was one of the world’s first REITs to adopt Islamic principles. A handful of Islamic REITs have been launched, including Dubai Islamic Bank’s Emirates REIT in 2010. Malaysia now has three listed Islamic REITs.
The investment management firm Lotus Capital Limited has been honoured as the best in Africa by the Islamic Finance News (IFN). Lotus Capital won the Africa Deal of the Year Award as the lead issuing house for the N11.4 billion Osun state sukuk issue, which was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in September 2013. The issue was oversubscribed by about 20 per cent. The Osun state government, represented by the Honourable Commissioner of Finance, and the Solicitors to the Issue, Kola Awodein and Co, were also award recipients for the deal. Besides, Lotus also developed the country's first Islamic Index on the NSE, known as the “NSE Lotus Islamic Index” or NSE LII. The Index recorded +44.21 per cent in 2012 and +61.84 per cent in 2013.