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Ramadan Karim

End of Ramandan I participate and fundraise at UNICEF Cycling for Children.

Please donate online: https://www.unicef.ch/en/cycling-for-children/action/michael-gassner (1 CHF almost equal to 1 USD)

If you plan to do a large donation, I would be glad to connect you with the responsible person at UNICEF to learn more about their work and help your decision!

Save the Date – Financial Inclusion Week 2018

The fourth annual Financial Inclusion Week will take place between October 29 and November 2, 2018. This year’s theme is Getting Inclusion Right. In 2018, the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion is celebrating its 10th anniversary and using this moment as an opportunity to celebrate progress and look to the future. The 2017 Global Findex revealed that an additional 515 million people have opened a bank account since 2014, however key metrics for usage and savings have declined. Recently the Gallup Global Financial Health Study has revealed that at the country level greater account ownership does not correlate with greater financial security and control. During Financial Inclusion Week 2018, partner organizations around the globe will hold conversations focused on what the industry must do to ensure that access to financial services brings real value to customers' lives.

#Kuwait's Noor Financial to divest stake in #Pakistan's largest Islamic bank

Noor Financial Investment Company will divest a portion of its 49% stake in Pakistan's Meezan Bank. The company is in preliminary discussions with foreign institutional investors for a proposed divestment of 9.59% of the total issued and paid up capital of Meezan. Noor has been mulling a sale since at least 2013. Meezan Bank is Pakistan’s fastest growing bank, it posted a profit in each year of operation and its net profits grew 13.5% in 2017 to $93 million. Noor’s stake in the bank was valued at $375 million in 2017.

First Islamic #crowdfunding platform for affordable homes to increase impact with backing of Expo 2020 Dubai

The world’s first Islamic real estate crowdfunding platform Ethis Crowd will showcase the solution at Expo 2020 Dubai. Ethis Crowd enables individuals to collectively fund and invest in new residential developments for low-income households in Indonesia and Malaysia. Created in 2014 and headquartered in Singapore, Ethis Crowd enables public investors to collectively gather funds to develop affordable housing projects. Typically completed in one to two years, the homes are then sold to ethical partner banks, who resell them to end-users. More than 20,000 investors and donors from 52 countries are registered on the platform. About 60% of the investment comes from Singapore, while an increasing number of investors originate from the Middle East.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Blossom Finance Launches Shariah-compliant #Microfinance #Fund to Invest in BMT Microfinance Institutions in #Indonesia via PBMT Ventura

US-based Blossom Finance recently launched a fund that will lend local-currency on the Indonesian island of Java via Permodalan BMT (PBMT) Ventura. Baitul Maal wat Tamwil (BMTs) are financial institutions that follow Shariah law. They provide savings and loan services primarily to people who do not use traditional banks. The new fund is Blossom’s first microfinance fund that is open to investment from the public. The minimum investment is USD 1,000, although US-based investors must be accredited before participation. Blossom is accepting investments into the fund in US dollars as well as the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum. In testing its platform since 2015, Blossom has generally returned investors annualized profits around 7% with terms of 6 to 12 months.

#Sukuk issuance: QIIB weighs market mood

Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) is waiting for the right time to issue its $500m sukuk in the international market. QIIB CEO Abdulbasit Ahmed Al Shaibei said that QIIB is currently weighing market conditions before the issuance of the 5-year sukuk. QIIB is not in a hurry to hit the market, as it does not face any kind of liquidity issues. The lead arrangers of the QIIB issuance will be QNB, Standard Chartered and some Malaysian Banks. The tenor would be 5 years. QIIB issued its first sukuk in 2012 for $700 and it matured in October 2017. The bank’s $2bn Trust Certificate Issuance programme has already been approved by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA) and is being admitted to the official list of the FCA and the London Stock Exchange. The Programme has been assigned a provisional rating of A2 by Moody’s Investors Service Cyprus.

Matrix Concepts, #Indonesian consortium to jointly develop Islamic financial district in Jakarta

Malaysian property developer Matrix Concepts is teaming up with an Indonesian consortium to jointly develop an Islamic financial district in Jakarta. Matrix entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bangun Kosambi Sukses (BKS) and Nikko Sekuritas Indonesia (NSI) for the joint development dubbed PIK 2 Sedayu Indo City. Matrix said the proposed development was initiated by the Indonesian government in its quest to position itself as an Islamic financial hub. PIK 2 Sedayu Indo City will encompass 1,000ha of land complete with residential houses, apartments, shopping centres, a light rail transit system, and a stadium.

Regulators meet to explore ways of expanding Islamic financing

The National Treasury of #Kenya and the International Financial Services Board organized a three-day forum on Islamic finance. The country's five financial regulators met to explore ways of expanding Islamic finance and discuss the challenges they are facing. Challenges include low levels of awareness among the public as well as inadequate manpower to disseminate information.

Asset management industry ‘set for growth’

#Bahrain’s assets management industry is set to see continued strong growth in the next five years. Central Bank of Bahrain supervisor Abdulrahman Al Baker said this positive trend can be attributed to the rapid expansion and increasing sophistication of the GCC financial markets. Other factors include the enchanced regulation on asset management and capital markets, the growing wealth of high net worth individuals, as well as the steady economic growth in the region.

Damac Properties lists $400m #sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai

Damac Properties listed $400 million (Dh1.4 billion) sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai. It is the third Sukuk listed by Dubai-based Damac Properties on Nasdaq Dubai, following a $650 million Sukuk listed by the company in April 2014 and a $500 issuance in April 2017. Damac Chairman Hussain Sajwani said Damac continues to expand its development portfolio at home and internationally. Furthermore, the listing on Nasdaq Dubai provides them high visibility around the world and an excellent regulatory framework. Dubai's sukuk listings have now reached a total nominal value of $59.72 billion, the highest amount of any listing venue in the world.

QIB and INJAZ Qatar sign deal to launch financial literacy programme

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has signed an agreement with the youth organization INJAZ Qatar to sponsor a three-year financial literacy programme for selected high schools and universities in Qatar. The agreement was signed by Bassel Gamal, QIB Group CEO and Emad Al Khaja, INJAZ Qatar CEO. The new "Personal Finance Program" is a five-week training with interactive sessions tailored specifically for high school students and university freshmen. The programme explores ways to earn money and spend it wisely by budgeting, saving, and investing. Courses include the cautious use of credit cards, and protecting your personal finances. Emad Al Khaja said the course was in line with local cultural requirements, as Islamic banking principles are incorporated into the programme.

Green #sukuk creates ripples on prominent environmental concerns

According to Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) deputy CEO Datuk Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin, the world will need up to US$90 trillion (RM360 trillion) worth of investments for infrastructure by 2030. This presents a significant opportunity for green finance and green sukuk to be part of the mainstream investment for the financing solutions. In July 2017, SC, Bank Negara Malaysia and the World Bank Group established the country’s first green sukuk. Green sukuk has become the trend that has received support from investors and regulators on a global scale. NewParadigm Capital Markets Managing Director Charanjeev Singh says more green sukuk issuances are expected to take up the Islamic finance space as Malaysia continues to be the catalyst for Islamic bonds. So far, the focus has been big government-owned companies. The next level of development would be to facilitate the middle- market or the mid-sized companies, and not necessarily the government- owned or government-linked, but the A or AA ratings.

#UAE’s Dana Gas agrees $700m #sukuk restructuring deal

Dana Gas has reached agreement with creditors on restructuring $700m of sukuk. Under the deal with the sukuk holders’ committee, investors who want to exit the instruments can do so in a tender at 90.5 cents on the dollar. Alternatively, investors can exchange the sukuk for new three-year Islamic instruments with a 4% profit rate, while receiving final profit payments that they were owed before the old sukuk matured last October 31. Holders representing more than 52% of $350m of sukuk convertible into equity, and 30% of $350m of non-convertible sukuk, agreed to take no further action before the tender. The deal would require the support of 75% of sukuk holders and would then become compulsory for the rest. Dana’s shares jumped 3.9% on Sunday after news of the deal.

Dana Gas reports 27% increase in net profit in Q1 2018

Dana Gas reported a net profit of $14 million for the first quarter of 2018 compared to $11 million reported during the same period last year. The company attributed the increase in net profit to better realised prices and the positive arbitration settlement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). First quarter gross revenue reached $120 million compared to $118 million in the first quarter of 2017. During the first quarter of this year, group average production was 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), down 7% from 69,900 boepd in the first quarter of 2017. Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, said the first quarter 2018 saw Dana Gas continue to perform solidly from both a financial and operational perspective. The company recorded a 27% increase in net profit and higher revenues reflecting higher realised prices.

Islamic Finance’s #Sukuk innovation needs to go further

As opposed to earlier structures, today’s sukuk come with a variety of features. There are two broad thrusts in the innovation that has taken place. First, the use of embedded options for better risk management and second, innovation seeking to overcome limitations like the need for physical underlying asset. For example, a call option which provides the right to purchase an underlying asset at a predetermined price is typically embedded to minimize the risk to the obligor. An embedded put option on the other hand favors the sukuk-holder. The put enables the holder to sell the underlying asset to the obligor at a predetermined price. A number of Islamic banks have issued perpetual sukuk with embedded call options for the purpose of meeting their Basel III capital adequacy requirements. Also, sovereign wealth funds like Malaysia’s Khazanah have issued “Exchangeable Sukuk” which allow the holders to either convert the sukuk to the underlying asset, or redeem the sukuk at face value. While sukuk design has come a long way, they need to move toward an even more enhanced risk-sharing.

VEB and The Islamic Development Bank Group to Establish a Partnership Fund Amounting up to $100 mln

Russia's Vnesheconombank (VEB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group will establish a Partnership Fund. According to VEB Chairman Sergei Gorkov, the joint fund will be based on the principles of Islamic finance and will aim at promoting investment in the Russian economy and financing high technologies. The joint contribution of VEB and the IDB Group to the fund's capital will amount up to $100 million. Third-party investors will be involved as well. Gorkov added that the Middle East market is one of the strategic areas of cooperation for Vnesheconombank. It plans to open a representative office in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, and create a Russian business desk there. It will provide access to sales and capital markets in the region and create opportunities for partnership with local players.

Dana Gas close to a deal on $700m #sukuk dispute, say sources

Dana Gas has reached an agreement with key holders of $700m of its sukuk to restructure the securities. A committee representing sukukholders agreed to accept an immediate cash payout of 20 cents to the dollar and to roll the rest into a three-year security. According to the agreement, the new security will pay an annual coupon of 4%, bondholders agreed to remove the convertible option in the securities. Dana Gas said it would pay a further 20% of the sukuk after two years and will raise the coupon to 6% if it fails to do so. The majority of sukukholders have agreed to the terms. Investment bank Houlihan Lokey is advising Dana Gas and Moelis & Co is the consultant to the committee of sukukholders.

Gulf Capital Acquires Strategic Stake in #Saudi Arabia #Fintech Geidea

Asset management firm Gulf Capital has acquired a strategic stake in Saudi Arabian fintech company, Geidea. According to Gulf Capital, this deal with Geidea is the largest acquisition in the Saudi Fintech sector. Geidea was founded in 2008 and is the official distributor of Verifone and a payment solution company. Gulf Capital also reported that this deal is its fifth investment in the technology sector and is part of its efforts to develop the payment and digital financial transaction sector in the GCC. Dr. Karim El Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, stated that this partnership was paving the way to adopt Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and move towards a cashless society.

Asia’s Islamic finance industry growing stronger by the year

The Malaysia International Islamic Finance Center (MIFC) published in cooperation with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) the latest report entitled “Islamic finance in Asia: Reaching new heights”. According to the report, Asia’s Islamic finance assets registered an annual growth of 8.4% between 2011 and 2016 and stood at $528.7bn, or 26% of the world’s Shariah-compliant financial assets, at the end of 2017. Furthermore, Asia has grown to the largest market for sukuk. $52.3bn or 52.5% of all newly issued sukuk came from Asia in 2017, with most notable contributors being Hong Kong, Indonesia and Pakistan. The region also has a global market share of 60.7% of sukuk outstanding and is market leader in Islamic funds. The report states that Malaysia, Bangladesh, Brunei and Indonesia are currently among the most developed Islamic banking jurisdictions in Asia.

#Kazakhstan's financial hub adds Islamic arbitration capabilities

Kazakhstan's financial hub, the International Arbitration Centre (IAC) is adding specialists in Islamic law to its dispute resolution services. The IAC provides mediation and arbitration services as an alternative to traditional court litigation. The IAC is an independent body launched to complement the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), an economic zone aimed at developing the republic's financial sector. IAC Chairman Barbara Dohmann said that Islamic finance is now part of everyday business dealings across the region, so the ability to handle civil and commercial disputes in Islamic finance has become very important.

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