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#UK slowly progressing towards providing Shariah compliant #student #finance

The UK Government has been thinking about the possibility of introducing Shariah compliant student finance since 2011. The Higher Education and Research Bill is currently before Parliament. However, the Bill contains no time-scale for when a Shariah compliant system is likely to be in place. When the Bill was reviewed in the House of Lords, Lord Sharkey proposed an amendment to give a deadline of the 2018-2019 academic year for the introduction of such a scheme. This proposal was rejected by the Government. Lord Sharkey instead proposed an amendment requiring quarterly progress reports from the Secretary of State. The final outcome is that the Bill will proceed forwards and once it has completed all stages, the Secretary of State for Education will have the power to implement a Shariah compliant student finance system.

CBK to implement Sharia governance by year-end – To be applied to all banks

The Central Bank of #Kuwait (CBK) is determined to develop the financial sector’s workforce and plans to introduce Sharia governance by the end of the year. CBK’s Inspection Department Chairman Waleed Al-Awadhi revealed that Sharia governance will be implemented after consultations with local banks and will be applied to all Kuwaiti banks. CBK has recently organized a workshop on the topic in collaboration with the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). Waleed Al-Awadhi said that the workshop aimed to familiarize employees of the financial and banking sectors with Sharia governance.

Married banker from Norbiton takes Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank to employment tribunal after she was 'pimped out' to secure Arab client worth £25m

A married senior banker was "pimped out" by her boss in a bid to get a wealthy Arab client to open an account with £25 million. Suemaya Gerrard, a relationship manager at the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, claimed the client bombarded her with love songs and inappropriate text messages. She added that bank CEO Jawdat Jawdat put pressure on her to go out to dinner with the man and she was threatened to lose her job if she did not go. Suemaya Gerrard resigned from the bank last November and is now suing it for sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and constructive dismissal. The bank and Mr Jawdat deny all the allegations. Mr Jawdat claimed it was normal practice to entertain clients and dine with customers.

The IFSB and DFSA Organise Joint #Seminar on the Role of #Sukuk and Securitisation to Support New Financial Regulations

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) and the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) successfully organised a Joint Seminar themed "The Role of Sukuk and Securitisation to Support New Financial Regulations". Ian Johnston, Chief Executive of the DFSA welcomed the IFSB and the Joint Seminar’s participants. He discussed the need for the industry to think laterally to address the shortage of liquidity management tools at Islamic institutions. The panel offered insight into sukuk instruments and the Islamic capital market developments. A panelist mentioned that there is expected to be 70bn USD of new issuance during 2017; however this is not enough to keep up with the projected growth of the Islamic finance industry. To resolve the impediments, the industry needs more standardisation in terms of legal documentation and Shariah interpretations. The Joint Seminar ended with the panel emphasising the need for liquidity generation initiatives to be supported at the regulatory and government levels.

CASE STUDY: Etihad Lands Largest #Sukuk Debut in #MENA #Aviation History

#UAE-based airline Etihad Airways tapped the Islamic finance market with the largest ever sukuk issuance in the MENA region’s aviation history. In November 2016, Etihad Airways made its debut on the debt capital markets with a benchmark US$1.5bn sukuk deal. Etihad was initially rumoured to be raising US$500mn, but there was strong demand and the company’s debut US$1.5bn sukuk became the highest rated paper from an airline issuer. The book consisted of high-quality investors from the MENA region, Asia and Europe, creating significant price tension that enabled Etihad to optimize pricing and issue size. Banks dominated the distribution cross-section (77%), while 13% of the notes were allocated to fund managers, 5% to private banks, 4% to insurance and pension funds, 1% to other investors. The 5-year sukuk was launched under the newly established Islamic Trust Certificate (Sukuk) programme and represented a landmark debt capital market transaction.

RAM: Q1 global #sukuk issuance at US$22.2bil

According to RAM Ratings, global sukuk issuance reached US$22.2 billion (US$1=RM4.33) at the end of March, a marginal decrease from US$24.1bil recorded in the same period last year. Malaysia maintained its leadership by accounting for 38.5% of the total issuance. The ratings agency said Indonesia was next (24.7%) followed by Qatar (9.9%) and the United Arab Emirates (9%). The outstanding global sukuk summed up to US$346.7bil, as at end-March 2017, with Malaysia maintaining its leadership by commanding 48% of the amount. Ruslena Ramli, Head of Islamic Finance at RAM Ratings, said that other Gulf Cooperation Council nations are expected to include sukuk issuance as a debt management strategy. On the domestic front, outstanding Malaysian sukuk expanded 11.5%,year-on-year, to RM691.4bil, as at end-March 2017, from RM620.1bil recorded in the same period last year.

#Turkish wealth #fund head says signed Islamic mortgage deal with IDB

Turkey's new sovereign wealth fund has signed a framework agreement with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to develop Islamic mortgages. Turkey's government has already transferred stakes worth billions of dollars in Turkish Airlines, major banks and other companies to the wealth fund to finance big-ticket infrastructure projects. Fund chairman Mehmet Bostan said the fund had authority to support mega projects but its priority is to invest in leading global industries in areas like technology, telecoms and energy. Bostan said financial technology was one of the fund's areas of operation, adding it was working on a joint payment platform and mobile banking. He added that the Turkish fund has received invites from other national funds and was negotiating with two of them after signing an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

SunTrust, ICD Sign Agreement To Establish Non-interest Banking Window

SunTrust Bank #Nigeria has signed an agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) to establish a new non-interest banking window. The two institutions said they were determined to collaborate in order to establish a window that incorporates non-interest banking products and services in Nigeria. The CEO of SunTrust Bank, Mr Muhammad Jibrin, noted that the new offering is expected to attract investors from within and outside the country. On his part, Mr. Khaled Al-Aboodi of the ICD said he was looking forward to strengthening mutual efforts in establishing the non-interest window and promoting Islamic finance.

#Saudi Electricity in talks with banks for dollar #sukuk issue - sources

State-controlled utility Saudi Electricity is in talks with regional and international banks about issuing a US dollar-denominated sukuk. A number of companies in the kingdom are considering sukuk issuance to offset a decline in revenues due to lower oil prices. Oil giant Saudi Aramco issued a debut $3 billion-equivalent sukuk in the Saudi local market in April, while ACWA Power is expected to issue an international bond of at least $600 million this week. Saudi Electricity issued $2.5 billion in sukuk in 2014, split between a $1.5 billion sukuk maturing in 2024 and $1 billion due in 2044. The company recently repaid a $500 million five-year sukuk it issued in 2012.

Leading #Scottish Islamic finance expert to speak at Responsible Finance & Investment #Summit

Graham Burnside, a consultant at Shepherd and Wedderburn, is to speak at the RFI conference in Zurich. The Responsible Finance & Investment Summit (RFI Summit) is a two-day event hosted by the RFI Foundation and the Swiss Arab Network. The event is aimed at building awareness of how the social and environmentally responsible investment and Islamic finance can create a positive impact. Mr Burnside is a founding member of the Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC), a Scottish-based not-for-profit specialist advisory established to promote ethical finance. In 2015, the UKIFC was recognised by Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge Awards (EFICA), winning the $100,000 Islamic Finance Industry Development Award. Mr Burnside has been invited to take part in the RFI Summit panel looking at financial inclusion and responsible finance.

ICD, Tamkeen & Ibdar launch $100million #Bahrain #SME #fund

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in partnership with Ibdar Bank and Labour Fund Tamkeen has announced the launch of the Bahrain SME fund. The Bahrain SME Fund is a Shariah compliant mezzanine private equity Fund which will invest in Bahrain’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). The Fund will target SME’s with high growth potential in consumer, industrial, ICT, education and healthcare sectors, as well as sectors experiencing dynamic change. The Fund will add immense value to Bahrain as a tool for SME growth and development where 90% of Bahrain enterprises are SMEs and their contribution accounts for about 30% of the Kingdom’s GDP.

Shake-up on the way with DIB entry into market

Dubai Islamic Bank’s (DIB) formal entry into the Kenyan market is expected to shake up locally-owned Islamic lenders that have faced little competition for a decade. The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has now opened the door for the bank after more than a year of waiting. Kenya has until now had only two fully-fledged Islamic banks, while five other conventional lenders have been offering Shariah-compliant services and products through "Islamic Windows". DIB makes its foray into Kenya at a time when authorities are keen to make Kenya a hub for Islamic finance in Africa with ongoing reforms expected to drive the growth of Islamic-finance operations. The Kenyan government has recently unveiled a package of initiatives to develop a policy framework for Islamic finance in the country.

Wahid urges more listings of Islamic financial institutions on Bursa #Malaysia

The listing of more Islamic financial institutions on Bursa Malaysia is needed to boost the Islamic fund and wealth management industry going forward. The Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) group chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar said this would also strengthen Malaysia's position as a global financial hub. He said that of the 672 syariah-compliant securities listed only two were from the finance sector, namely, BIMB Hodings and Syarikat Takaful Malaysia. Wahid said the shortage of listed Islamic finance institutions could pose big challenges to the industry, especially for the government-linked investment companies. He also suggested three possible ways to further grow the industry. The first is the formation of a second listed Islamic universal banking group, apart from BIMB Holdings. The listing of some of Islamic Development Finance Institutions such as Bank Simpanan Nasional and Bank Rakyat is a second option. The third approach is the creation of a separate listing among banking groups that have sizeable Islamic finance activities embedded within them, such as Maybank, CIMB and RHB.

Boeing Looks to Islamic Finance and #Sukuk for Funding

Boeing Capital is exploring opportunities for Islamic finance in the aviation sector and the possibility of including aircraft finance in the Islamic sukuk market. This way, an aircraft finance portfolio would be secured by an instrument known as the Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificate. Since 2006, Boeing Capital has hosted annual airline planning seminars for financiers in the Middle East. Emirates Airlines has issued sukuk most recently in 2015 compromising of a 10 year sukuk for the value of $913 million. Guaranteed by the UK Government, the sukuk was priced on 25 March at 2.471%. Emirates also issued in 2013 a $1 billion sukuk 10 year sukuk which was priced at 3.875%. Ethihad Airlines issued a sukuk in November 2016 for $1.5 billion which was priced at 3.86%.

Introducing #sukuk bonds in #Malta

Discussion about sukuk bonds is on the increase. The government of Malta has also considered issuing this type of security. Meanwhile, many established players on the international capital markets are issuing sukuks. A sukuk has a secondary market in the same way as a typical bond has and investors may buy, hold or sell the sukuk after this has been issued in the primary market. Hence, liquidity considerations are also relevant for sukuk bonds. The buyer of a sukuk bond is indirectly buying an asset that has value rather than entering into a loan obligation with the issuer of a typical debt instrument. Importantly, the number of investors in the Islamic world cannot be ignored and therefore Sharia compliant vehicles capable of attracting their wealth are increasingly relevant. The sukuk is a good starting point for issuers to tap into this reality.

Workshop on #Sukuk Model Law project held

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) organized a regional consultation workshop on Sukuk Model Law project. The workshop was organized in partnership with the Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam and was held in Brunei capital. Participants included senior officials of financial authorities from the IDB member countries in the ASEAN region, namely Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Maldives, as well as from Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. The project aims to create a model Sukuk law and guidelines that allow IDB member countries and other jurisdictions a basis for a legal framework for Sukuk issuance and regulation. This was the second of four regional consultations on the Sukuk law. The first consultation was held in Senegal, Africa, and other two are planned for Europe/Central Asia and the MENA regions.

Burj Bank cement strong reputation

With a strong background in Middle Eastern banking, Burj Bank has been building a solid reputation based on integrity. Burj Bank was founded in 2007 under the name of Dawood Islamic Bank as a central pillar of Pakistan’s Islamic Banking landscape. In 2011 the bank was renamed and launched as 'Burj Bank Limited', following a massive capital injection by some Middle Eastern investors of the bank. At present, almost 85% of Burj Bank’s shareholding stems from the Middle East, with majority ownership belonging to the Islamic Corporation for Development of the Private Sector (ICD). In 2012 Burj Bank grew its deposit base by 77% and the financing portfolio also reflected a growth of 67%. The branches grew from 50 to 75, reflecting a percentage distribution network growth of 50%. The bank has entered into diverse new lines of business including SME (small- and medium-sized enterprise) banking, investment banking, agricultural financing, cash management and home Musharaka.

#Kenya: CBK Licences Dubai Islamic Bank

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has licensed Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) after the bank fulfilled its stipulated requirements. Dubai Islamic Bank Kenya intends to exclusively offer Shariah compliant banking services becoming the third fully Shariah compliant bank in Kenya. The decision is seen to highlight the CBK's confidence in the stability of the banking sector, which has been experiencing turbulence in the past couple of years. DIB is a fully owned subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank of the United Arab Emirates, which has an asset base of Sh4.8 trillion and capital of Sh754.8 billion. The Central Bank of Kenya welcomes the entry of international brands and believes that DIB's entry will expand the offerings in the market.

Islamic Development Bank promotes #waqf for development's sake

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) dedicates special concern for promoting waqf in line with its objective of boosting social and economic development of Islamic nations. The eighth forum on fiqh issues was held in Great Britain, at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies. Dr. Abdullah Mohammad, IDB's representative of the Islamic Institute for Research and Training stated that IDB has always sought to innovate mechanisms to benefit from the waqf institutions. Dr. Farhan Nethami, the center chair, lauded the Kuwaiti General Secretariat for Aqwaf for promoting waqf in all parts of the world, through funding philanthropic projects. He called for following the example of Kuwait and establishing coordination with non-Muslim communities in the social and economic domains, noting such an approach boosts understanding and mutual respect.

Solid growth in Islamic IAs expected to normalise

In #Malaysia Islamic investment accounts (IA) have grown at a strong pace since they were introduced in 2015. Bank Negara’s latest monthly banking statistics show that IAs have since grown to RM74.2 billion as at February this year, accounting for 13% of total liabilities within the Islamic banking system. According to Simon Chen, senior analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, by 2020 IAs will probably account for some 16% of the Islamic banking system’s total liabilities. An important feature of IAs is the sharing of risk between the bank and the account holder. For an investor, IAs are attractive because they offer much higher returns than a deposit account. But, unlike a deposit account, the principal amount in an IA is not guaranteed by Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia. According to Chen, a key issue that remains is whether the loss-sharing mechanism in IAs will be honoured by banks in case of actual losses. A significant loss to test the resilience of this regime has yet to occur.

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