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Dentons advised banks on Islamic financing for Byrne Group sale

Dentons has revealed that it acted as legal counsel advising on the Islamic financing of the proposed $270 million acquisition of Byrne Group by Itqan Investments. Byrne is an equipment rental company servicing the construction, industrial, oil and gas industries in the GCC. Through the recently completed transaction, Itqan Investments purchased the entire share capital of Byrne Equipment Rental and its subsidiaries. The organisation hopes to enhance Byrne’s ambition to launch into the Asian market. The Dentons team was led by partner and head of Islamic Finance in the Middle East Qasim Aslam, with support from senior associates Atif Choudhary and Jane Flournoy.

Sharia #fintech in #Indonesia seeing early boom, but VCs need convincing

Indonesia has seen a rapid growth of sharia fintech. In fact, the country’s Sharia Fintech Association already has 28 members, although it was established only in February. The interest is understandable given the size of the market for Islamic fintech. According to a 2017 Sharia Fintech Business Study published by Telkom Indonesia, the market size for sharia lending is worth up to Rp 7.3 trillion ($525 million). However, venture capital firms still seem hesitant about pouring capital into the sector. Mandiri Capital Indonesia investment head Aldi Adrian Hartanto believes that sharia fintech startups would need a more convincing business model and market approach in order to attract investment. Focusing on sharia market alone is not seen as a strong differentiator amid tight competition in the country. Malaysia, however, seems to see it differently. The country has made various efforts to provide funding for Muslim-focused tech. Thus, Malaysia was ranked first for Islamic fintech by Bloomberg Intelligence, followed by the UK and UAE.

Islamic finance body AAOIFI issues #standard for agency contracts

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has issued its first standard covering wakala, or investment agency contracts. The guidance aims to address the use of wakala in areas such as over-the-counter instruments, treasury placements and Islamic bonds. Wakala is common as a standalone product, but AAOIFI opted to focus its standard on more complex instances where it is combined with other contracts. Islamic banks use wakala for both their short and long-term funding needs, and in recent years have incorporated the contract into hybrid sukuk versions. In wakala, one party acts as agent for another and the AAOIFI standard focuses on this principal-agent relationship. It states that the relationship does not transfer ownership rights of the assets to the agent, the principal should account for the assets in its accounting books. The standard also requires the principal to evaluate the nature of the investment at inception.

Istanbul: Islamic financial body vows to stay relevant

The General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) held its two-day Global Forum in Istanbul. The forum’s main theme was "The New Face of Financial Services: Disruptions, Opportunities and the New Normals". Secretary-general Abdelilah Belatik said that CIBAFI would stay relevant in the industry as the world changes. CIBAFI's mandate is to represent the Islamic financial services industry globally, defend and promote its role, and to also consolidate cooperation among its members. Mehmet Ali Akben, chairman of the Turkey's Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), said that while globalization had made countries come closer together, it also brought along risks. He added that countries need international cooperation and CIBAFI is one of the best examples of having cooperation and partnership between the countries.

‘SCB plans to bring more Islamic liquidity to #Bangladesh’

According to Rehan M Shaikh, CEO of Standard Chartered Saadiq, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) wants to bring more Islamic liquidity into the market as the demand is increasing in Bangladesh as well as in the global markets. Islamic banking has expanded three times from 2007 to 2017 in Bangladesh, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.6%. The Takaful sector has grown five times with a CAGR of 19.34% during this period. SCB has arranged a $32 million Diminishing Musharakah Facility for Noman Terry Towel Mills and Ismail Spinning Mills. This is the first Islamic syndication arranged by SCB Bangladesh. The facility will finance the company’s capital expenditures and support its export growth.

After downturn, Islamic finance eyes profits, #fintech: survey

Islamic banks and insurers are focusing on profitability and new financial products. Surveys by the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) show a strong focus on fintech and digital transformation. Islamic banks are launching technology departments and forming joint ventures with fintech firms. The survey showed that technology-related risks have been steadily increasing and are now the biggest perceived risks. This means Islamic banks must ramp up product innovation efforts, as crowdfunding, P2P and payments platforms will be a major focus in the medium term. The CIBAFI survey on Takaful showed a mixed view on technology, suggesting concerns were focused on operational efficiency rather than innovation.

Islamic finance body IFSB to develop financial inclusion guidance

The Malaysia-based Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) plans to develop a technical note on financial inclusion. The technical note will cover regulatory issues including Islamic microfinance, financial technology and integration of social finance. The guidelines will be funded by a grant from the Islamic Development Bank to be implemented over the next three years. Tens of millions of people in the Muslim world lack bank accounts because of poverty, poor education and a lack of infrastructure, but religious reasons are also an important element. Research from the International Monetary Fund has shown that religious concerns play a role in keeping people out of the financial system in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Tunisia.

Islamic Development Bank finalizing 4-year investment plan with #Turkey

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is working on finalizing a four-year partnership strategy plan with Turkey. Walid Abdelwahab said the IDB aims to invest in various sectors that will fuel growth, such as infrastructure, energy, transportation and education. He said the bank aims to support value chain development in Turkey to enable the country to become more competitive through linking it with global value chains. He added that the bank appreciates Turkey's experience with high-speed railways. IsDB is preparing a documentary on this topic for other member countries of the Group that are interested in this technology.

New report highlights how Islamic financial institutions are addressing the environmental & social impact of their financing

The Responsible Finance & Investment Summit 2018 concluded with a report about Islamic financial institutions’ perceptions and actions on their environmental and social impacts. The report includes a detailed survey of over 30 Islamic financial institutions’ sustainable finance practices. During the RFI Summit 2018, participants heard a call to action on impact finance from speakers like HRH Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, Emir of Kano, Dr. Henri B. Meier, Dr. Iyad Abu Moghli and others. The winners of the Support Disruption for Good Challenge presented their companies. The three winners, AID:Tech, INBONIS and thirdACT, demonstrated how companies can use technology to enable greater investment and financing to flow to support healthcare, agriculture and sustainable cities.

Hong Kong Gov’t Report Says Bitcoin Poses ‘Medium-Low’ Risk In Financial Crime

The Hong Kong Financial Services and Treasury (FSTB) released a report on the status of money laundering and terrorism financing. The report concluded that virtual currencies, like Bitcoin, are not particularly involved in either type of financial crime. Hong Kong's financial regulators and law enforcement agencies are working together to look into risks associated with Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and cryptocurrencies. In March this year, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) halted an ICO in Hong Kong and made the company return the money raised. More recently, in mid-April, the SFC said that the type of fundraising done through ICOs is better suited to venture capital funds.

Munich Re reinsures life portfolio for Iranian insurer Mellat

German reinsurer Munich Re has entered into an agreement with Iranian insurer Mellat Insurance and will cover Mellat's entire life insurance portfolio. For smaller insurers operating in emerging economies it is vital to have access to reinsurance capacity, in order to offset the risks they are assuming and maintain solvency strength. Iran’s Saman Insurance became the first insurer in the country to purchase life reinsurance from a foreign player after the removal of international sanctions in 2016, signing a deal with Munich Re in 2017.

UBF launches handbook on financial literacy

UAE Banks Federation (UBF) launched its handbook 'Financial Literacy for Individuals'. Financial experts have often noted that consumer debt has been piling up, resulting primarily from a lack of financial knowledge. The 'Financial Literacy for Individuals' handbook highlights various aspects of borrowing, saving and the ways to manage debt efficiently. It highlights the benefits of investment, including financial security, wealth generation, financial preparedness for emergencies, as well as accomplishment of financial objectives. It also introduces the key investment products such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

Ibn Sina washes its hands of Islami Bank

Ibn Sina Trust is set to sell off its entire 2.24% stake in Islami Bank Bangladesh (IBBL) within the next 30 days. Ibn Sina's exit from the country's biggest private lender comes a few days after the resignation of Chairman Arastoo Khan. The former secretary stepped down on April 17 and was replaced by Md Nazmul Hasan, a professor of the University of Dhaka. Ibn Sina left the bank's board on January 5 this year after a huge reshuffle. Last year, the Islamic Development Bank, one of the foreign investors of IBBL, sold two-thirds of its shares, bringing its stake in the bank down to 2% from 7.5%. In 2014, foreign sponsor-shareholder Bahrain Islamic Bank sold off all of its shares and Dubai Islamic Bank followed suit in 2015.

Board of Directors of Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation in Dubai Approves 2018-2020 Strategic Plan

Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation’s (AMAF) new strategic plan for 2018–2020 has been approved by its Board of Directors. The strategic plan covers 18 main objectives that collectively aim to achieve AMAF’s mission and expand the number of people benefiting from its charity work. The objectives are also aligned with the pillars of Dubai Plan 2021 and the emirate’s Smart Government goals. AMAF Secretary General Ali Al Mutawa said the new strategic plan would implement several initiatives to realize the foundation's primary goal of providing care to minors, protecting and investing their finances, growing endowments, and encouraging society to engage in charity.

SEDCO Holding Group Signs a Partnership Agreement with Saudi British Bank

SEDCO Holding Group signed a partnership agreement with the Saudi British Bank (SABB), for its Riyali Financial Literacy Program. The agreement was signed by Hasan Al Jabri, CEO of SEDCO Holding Group, and Naif Alabdulkareem, General Manager Retail Banking at SABB. The Riyali Financial Literacy Program attained the Ministry of Education’s endorsement to roll out the program in grade school as well as universities. The program aims to educate future generations on the importance and benefits of financial awareness. The program has already reached more than 400,000 beneficiaries and aims to reach 2 million beneficiaries by 2020.

More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

More than 70 countries committed to bolster efforts in the fight against terrorism financing. Participants at an international conference in Paris vowed to improve international coordination and enhance transparency of financial flows. The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate efforts to reduce the terror threat in the long-term. Experts attending the conference noted terror groups are using increasingly hard-to-track tools like prepaid cards, online wallets and crowdfunding operations. They called for better information-sharing between intelligence services, law enforcement, financial businesses and the technology industry. They also agreed to improve the traceability of funds going to non-governmental organizations and charity associations.

Ibn Sina Trust to sell off all Islami Bank shares, worth nearly Tk100cr

Ten days after losing its chairman, Islami Bank Bangladesh is preparing to lose one of its biggest sponsor shareholders. Ibn Sina Trust announced its intention to withdraw by the end of next month. The Ibn Sina Trust is the largest local corporate shareholder in Islami Bank. Its 36,077,391 shares are worth around Tk94.16 crore. A year ago, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) sold off two-thirds of its shares, shrinking its stake in the bank to 2.1% from 7.5%. Two other foreign banks have sold out from Islami Bank in recent years. In 2014, foreign sponsor shareholder Bahrain Islamic Bank sold off all its shares, followed by Dubai Islamic Bank, which sold all its shares in 2015. Islami Bank has always had the reputation of being influenced by Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamist political organization noted for its connection with the local collaborators of Pakistan occupation forces during the Liberation War in 1971.

Islamic bank retrieves $170 million as it uncovers internal fraud

Abu Dhabi's Al Hilal Bank has uncovered internal fraud worth more than 600 million dirhams ($163 million). The case is now before the courts and includes several bank employees. A total of 38 bank employees from Asian and European backgrounds were arrested last summer, but the name of the bank was not disclosed then. Police and the central bank have been able to retrieve 625 million dirhams of the money taken. Employees allegedly withdrew funds from dormant customer accounts. Money was then transferred from the Al Hilal accounts to bogus accounts before being withdrawn. Al Hilal is a state-owned Islamic lender with total assets worth 42.7 billion dirhams.

Source: 

http://www.globallegalpost.com/big-stories/islamic-bank-retrieves-$170-million-as-it-uncovers-internal-fraud-17248478/

AXA partners with Cobalt Underwriting for Sharia-compliant policy

AXA Insurance has teamed up with Cobalt Underwriting to create a new Shariah-compliant insurance product for the real estate sector. As part of the partnership, AXA directly manages the trading and underwriting of the product. Cobalt employs in-house Shariah scholars who provide each client with Shariah compliance certification. The new product is part of AXA’s wider strategy to bring new products to under-served sections of the insurance market. Ryan Birbeck, head of real estate specialty at AXA Insurance, said that the addition of a Shariah-compliant insurance policy was an obvious move as overseas investment continues to flow into the UK real estate sector.

Bidaya’s first #Sukuk issuance successful

Bidaya Home Finance has successfully closed its inaugural Sukuk issuance under the recently established SR500 Million Sukuk Issuance Programme. The total amount raised in relation to the Series 1 Sukuk was SR250 Million. Bidaya's CEO Mazin Al Ghunaim said this was a landmark transaction since Bidaya was the first housing finance company in Saudi Arabia to issue a Sukuk. Ashmore Investment Saudi Arabia acted as the Arranger with respect to the Sukuk Programme issuance, while Albilad Capital acted as the Dealer. Bidaya's Sukuk Programme is aimed at maximizing the utilization of capital markets, resulting in the diversification of the company's funding sources.

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