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Positive outlook for Islamic #REITs in the region

With the continuous growth of Islamic banking in the GCC, products such as Islamic Real Estate Investment Trusts (I-REITs) have started to emerge. Al Mahrab Tower REIT was the first private I-REIT in Kuwait in 2007. Following that, Dubai launched its first I-REIT (Emirates REIT) in 2010 and Bahrain listed its first public I-REIT (Eskan REIT) in 2017. Emirates NBD has also recently listed ENBD REIT and due to strong demand the offer was oversubscribed. Firms responded to this growing demand, including IdealRatings, which launched its first Sharia-compliant REIT index in 2015. While the future of I-REITs may seem positive, there are many challenges that lie ahead. It is important for asset management firms to devise efficient and logical I-REIT investment methodologies. This needs to be supplemented by sound ethical principles to ensure the sustainable growth of I-REITs in the region.

Baker McKenzie wins major #litigation case for Dubai Islamic Bank

Global law firm Baker McKenzie has successfully acted for Dubai Islamic Bank in its defence of a $2 billion claim brought against it in the English Commercial Court. The claim was brought by Plantation Holdings, a holding company owned by an Argentinian-resident property developer. The allegation was breach of contract related to plot of land on the outskirts of Dubai, which Plantation had planned to develop into a high-end luxury lifestyle and equestrian complex. The Bank took security over the project as part of the restructuring of a $500 million debt owed to it as a result of a complex receivables financing fraud. The case was heard in an eight week trial, with evidence from witnesses from seven jurisdictions. The court ruled that Plantation's principal director had made up evidence and that another of Plantation's witnesses had manufactured documents, Plantation has been ordered to pay 70% of the Bank's costs on the indemnity basis. The nature of the case also resulted in examining the volatility of the Dubai property market and the functionality of its property registration system, as well as the Dubai authorities' approach to financial misconduct.

#Malaysia Remains Biggest #Sukuk Market as Record Number of Global Corporates Tap Sukuk

Global sukuk market resumed positive strides in 2016 after three years of consecutive decline. The sukuk market also witnessed an important shift where corporate issuers dominated the market in 2016 with USD47.3 billion volume of issuance, representing a share of 63.2%. This is in contrast to historical trends where issuance was driven largely by sovereigns. Overall, sukuk issuer profile remained similar to historical trends. Malaysia continued to be the main driver for sukuk issuance, commanding a market share of 46.4% of total issuances, followed by Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), accounting for 9.9% and 9.0% share. Elsewhere, Turkey recorded a notable rise in sukuk issuance at USD4.1 billion for the year, supported by a number sovereign issuances with maturity ranging from one to five years. The year 2016 also witnessed issuances from Senegal, Jordan, Ivory Coast and Kuwait.

MAVCAP set to hit $50m first close for Meranti Fund, Elixir-partnered Islamic #Fund

Malaysia Venture Capital Management (MAVCAP) plans to announce a $50 million first close for two of its funds that will be launched this year, Asean Growth Fund and Global Islamic Economy Fund. The combined size of the two vehicles will be about $450 million. MAVCAP CEO Jamaludin Bujang said the Asean Growth Fund is $200 million vehicle, which is jointly launched with China-based Gobi Partners. This vehicle will be termed Meranti and will focus on later stage funding for technology related companies in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. In fact, MAVCAP is weighing options for the Islamic fund that is looking to invest in Shariah compliant and Halal sectors. Apart from the Asean Growth Fund and the Islamic fund, MAVCAP is also working on a clean-tech fund that will invest in companies that help reduce environmental stress. Bujang said the clean-tech fund could have a targeted corpus of anywhere between $50-$100 million.

#Indonesia's GDP Growth Curtailed by High Non-Performing Loan Ratio

Indonesian banks are expected to be cautious boosting credit disbursement because the non-performing loan (NPL) ratio is currently high with the gross NPL ratio hovering above 3% since mid-2016. Banks are now more selective in terms of credit disbursement, but this undermines the pace of the nation's macroeconomic growth. Although Indonesia managed to end the five-year economic slowdown in 2016, it is still far away from Indonesian President Joko Widodo's ambitious 7% GDP growth pledge. In fact, he revised his projection for Indonesia's 2018 GDP growth to 5.6% from a previous projection of a 5.4 - 6.1%. Thus, it should basically be impossible to see a 7% growth rate by 2017.

Sharia finance a growing market but NZ banks not acting yet

Sonny Bill Williams could find his rugby career curtailed if he refuses to support any sponsorship that runs contrary to his Islamic religion. Williams covered the BNZ logo on his collar in his first game for the Blues. Williams has lodged a conscientious objection in his contract to finance companies, banks, alcohol companies, tobacco companies and gambling companies. According to Victoria University religious studies professor Paul Morris, the rugby player's conscientious objection was valid if cleared with the sponsor and the management of the team. Islamic Women's Council spokeswoman Anjum Rahman said Williams was making a statement and it was a valid choice. New Zealand Bankers' Association CEO Karen Scott-Howman said banks were constantly responding to customer preferences. However, the banks do not see the demand for Sharia-compliant banking in New Zealand.

Moody's: Shariah-compliant #investment accounts at #Malaysian banks to continue growing

According to Moody's Investors Service, the growth of shariah-compliant investment accounts at Malaysian banks will remain strong over the next three to five years. Moody's Vice President, Simon Chen, said Malaysian banks have strong incentives to promote the growth of such investment accounts because they provide capital benefits. He added that concerns also exist over the untested state of loss-sharing mechanisms in the accounts. The robust growth of shariah-compliant investment accounts in Malaysia began in July 2015 following the implementation of the Islamic Financial Services Act 2013. By February 2017, these accounts had grown to RM74.2 billion, or 13%, of total banking system liabilities. On the question of risk, Moody's said that a significant loss event to test the resilience of this regime has yet to occur.

#Saudi readies debut dollar #sukuk with US risk disclosure

Saudi Arabia has included a disclosure on credit risk retention requirements in the prospectus of a debut dollar sukuk which is expected to issue this week and could total $10 billion. The disclosure to comply with the US Dodd-Frank Act has not been made for other sovereign sukuk issues. The US retention rule was set to align the interests of issuers of asset backed securities (ABS) with those of ABS investors by asking the sponsor of an ABS securitisation. Sukuk are generally asset-based, but in order to comply with the rules, Saudi Arabia will purchase at least 5% of the aggregate principal amount of each tranche it issues. Saudi Arabia began meeting investors on Sunday ahead of the deal, the second debt sale by the kingdom, which made its debut in the international debt markets last year with a record $17.5 billion bond.

Normes Charaïques #AAOIFI

La traduction en langue française de l’ensemble des standards de l’AAOIFI a été achevée. La première édition officielle en français des Normes Charaïques pour les institutions financières islamiques sera présentée le 12 avril 2017 à l’ouverture de la 15ème conférence annuelle de l’AAOIFI à Manama, Bahrain. Cette démarche s’inscrit dans le cadre des efforts de l’AAOIFI pour la diffusion de ses Shari’ah Standards, qui sont devenus la principale compilation de jugements de Fiqh contemporain dans le domaine de Fiqh al Mouamalat au niveau mondial. Eu égard à la taille des communautés francophones dans le monde, l’AAOIFI a entrepris de faire traduire ses Shari’ah Standards en français selon une méthodologie rigoureuse pour assurer une traduction une traduction fiable comportant plusieurs niveaux de révision, d’édition et d’assurance qualité.

Mizuho opens $300m Islamic #credit facility to Jeddah group

Mizuho Bank #Malaysia opened a $300 million credit facility to the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The two-year deal will finance projects in the member countries of ICD. According to ICD Chief Executive Khaled Al Aboodi, the $300 million accounts for 24% of funding programs earmarked by ICD in 2017. He added that funds could be disbursed for hospitals in Gambia, manufacturing facilities in Tajikistan or trade finance in Maldives. For Mizuho Bank Malaysia, the deal marks its first cross-border bilateral Islamic facility based on the concept of Murabahah. The bank's deputy CEO, Shinichi Nishiyama, said lending to ICD will expose Mizuho Bank Malaysia indirectly to the markets in Islamic countries and they are looking forward to a long-term partnership with ICD.

Sovereign plans #sukuk blockbuster

Saudi Arabia is expected to raise several billion US dollar sukuk across five and 10-year tranches. The notes will be in a hybrid mudaraba-murahaba format, a structure in essence already trialled by Saudi Aramco for a riyal-denominated sukuk. The kingdom is rated A1 by Moody's and A+ by Fitch. The banks running the deal are BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan and NCB Capital. The national oil company Saudi Aramco raised SR11.25bn riyals in order to diversify its revenues impacted by low international oil prices. The floating rate local currency sukuk has a seven-year maturity and offers 25bp over the six-month Saudi Arabian Interbank Offered Rate.

#Kuwait's Warba Bank boosts its #realestate investments portfolio & acquires a facility of KIA Motors in #UK

Warba Bank has recently purchased a newly constructed UK vehicle imports-exports facility strategically located next to Immingham port. The property is leased to KIA Motors UK for unbreakable lease term of 20 years. The facility has a capacity of over 15,550 cars and totalling 86.68 acres (35.08 hectares) of land. In addition, the site also includes a warehouse space of 63,515 ft.² (5,901 m²), facilitating distribution, refurbishment, valet, inspection, refuelling, offices and gatehouses. The site receives on average c.1,200 vehicles a week. KIA anticipate 100,000 UK car sales target by 2020. Warba Bank’s CEO, Shaheen Hamed Al Ghanem, said this acquisition was one of the best risks mitigated real estate investment of the bank, generating a steady and secured return from unbreakable long lease. He elaborated that the investment plan for 2017 is highly ambitious and the bank is looking for more international real estate investment opportunities in USA, UK and other continental European countries.

Wadi and Al Rajhi Bank announce new #partnership

Wadi.com, #Saudi Arabia's home-grown online shopping marketplace, announced a new strategic partnership with one of the kingdom's most trusted banks, Al Rajhi Bank.

New Islamic bank to appear in #Kazakhstan

Zaman Bank is expected to enter Kazakhstan's Islamic banking services market in near future. The news was announced by Nurlan Abdrakhmanov, director of the financial market methodology department of Kazakh National Bank. He noted that among all the products of Islamic banking, murabaha is in the greatest demand in Kazakhstan.

In the Trump era, one US Muslim #investor tries a louder voice

Bashar Qasem is the most outspoken voice among Muslim investors in the United States. He was the only Islamic financial representative among religious shareholder advocates who sent a letter in February to protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Qasem's Azzad Asset Management firm started its work in 2005, weighing in on issues like worker safety, climate change and lobbying disclosures. This direct advocacy will test whether U.S. Muslim investors will support the sort of faith-based shareholder activism common among other religious groups. Qasem's strategy appears to be helping to differentiate his firm from other asset management firms. Azzad's assets increased 11% in 2016 to US$487 million (£393 million) at year-end. Growth included US$5.7 million into the firm’s mutual funds, the third consecutive year of inflows.

#Iranian Banks' L/C Boom in Post-Sanctions Era

The Iranian Ministry of Economy has published the details of letters of credit (L/Cs) that Iranian banks allocated over the past few years. The country’s international trade picked up considerable pace when the sanctions against Iran were lifted. According to the ministry’s report, Bank Melli Iran allocated 154 letters of credit worth $42.71 million over a four-year period (2013-16). During 2013-16, Bank Keshavarzi opened 19,253 L/Cs worth over $10.5 billion. It also played an important role in issuing 21 bank guarantees valued at $15 million. Bank Mellat also issued 32 export guarantees worth $15.4 million and four import guarantees worth $13.5 million. Export Development Bank of Iran opened 550 L/Cs and issued more than 1,750 bank guarantees during 2013-15 to emerge as one of the main forces in the Iranian economy.

‘Jaiz Bank’s NPL within tolerable limits’

The Managing Director of Jaiz Bank, Hassan Usman, has assured that the bank’s loan profile is very healthy. Jaiz Bank, he noted, was not heavily or significantly exposed to the oil sector, but the bank’s exposure is to real estate. While justifying the listing of the bank’s shares in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), he said Jaiz Bank’s activities remain transparent and open. Jaiz Bank has challenges like any growing institution. One of such challenges has to do with perception, as many people thought it was a charity organization. Other challenges include the enabling environment like infrastructure for non-interest banking like liquidity instruments. Another challenge is the limited number of qualified trained manpower to manage Islamic banking. Inspite of these challenges, Jaiz Bank has proved itself to be sustainable. It has grown into a national franchise with branches in South and South West and is also opening more branches in other parts of the country.

Jaiz Bank anxious to invest massively in #Sukuk for infrastruture

In #Nigeria Jaiz Bank has accumulated funds and is now ready to massively invest in Sukuk to finance in specific infrastructure projects in the country. Managing Director Hassan Usman said that the bank, being an Islamic bank, could not invest in interests yielding instruments and therefore had to wait until Sukuk was ready. He added that there are off-shore funds held by those who share similar non-interests philosophy of Jaiz Bank which could be brought into the country. Usman said that from a capital base of N5 billion, the bank has grown its capital base to about N50 billion. From a deposit of N3. 5 billion, it has grown to about N60 billion. From the initial three branches as a Regional Bank, Jaiz Bank has grown into a National Bank with 30 branches across the nation.

#Malaysia’s Maybank Islamic looks to home markets to drive growth

Maybank Islamic is turning to its home markets for growth, in particularly Indonesia where it manages $2 billion worth of assets and is aiming to compete with domestic Islamic banks. According to CEO Mohamed Rafique Merican, the bank could grow beyond its core markets of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, but expansion in other markets would be opportunistic. Indonesia remains a key market for the bank, after Malaysia which accounts for 90% of the bank's business. As part of the ASEAN banking integration framework (ABIF), Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed in August to give their banks greater access to each other's markets. The move would give Malaysia's Islamic banks a potential lead to tap into the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, and one that continues to restrict to foreign lenders.

Bitter #battle for #Sabana# Reit comes to head at April 28 EGM

It seem like the ongoing bitter battle between the managers of Sabana Shariah-compliant Reit and some disgruntled investors will come to a head at an extraordinary general meeting End of April which has been called at the behest of 66 unit holders who began a campaign against Sabana Real Estate Investment Management.
Reason was dissatisfaction with the Reit manager's lacklustre performance and 3 years of falling distributions per unit. At the EGM 4 resolutions will be tabled one of which ask for Sabana Real Estate Investment Management to be removed.

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