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Asia ripe for Islamic finance as #fintech comes to the fore

According to Zahid ur Rehman Khokher, secretary-general of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), the growth potential of Islamic finance in the Asian market is much bigger than might be expected. He emphasized the developing role of fintech within the sector and the IFSB's role in setting standards. He noted the importance of Islamic microfinance in addressing issues of financial inclusion and improving participation in the financial sector. With the range of new services that are emerging, Zahid feels that capacity building is the biggest challenge at the moment. He feels there is a need for developing human resources and appropriate expertise within central banks, Shariah boards, as well as in commercial financial institutions.

Dubai's Emirates Reit plans debut #sukuk of at least US$300m this year: source

Dubai-based Emirates REIT plans to issue a debut Islamic bond of at least US$300 million by the end of this year. The Syariah-compliant real estate investment trust (REIT) has called a shareholder meeting on Nov 23 to discuss the planned sukuk, which could be issued shortly after that date. The company's total debt as at June 30 was about US$300 million. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of the REIT stood at 36.8%, which means there is room for issuance larger than US$300 million, the source added. The company had a portfolio of US$772 million at the end of June. Its portfolio includes mixed-use properties, office buildings and schools in Dubai.

#UAE’s Dana Gas leaves maturing #sukuk unpaid but no default declared

Dana Gas will not redeem $700 million (Dh2.57 billion) of its sukuk, as the dispute on the validity of the sukuk drags on in British and UAE courts. Dana claims changes in the interpretation of Islamic finance over recent years means the securities are no longer Sharia-compliant and have become unlawful in the UAE. The case is closely watched by the global Islamic finance industry because some investors think it could set a precedent for other sukuk issuers. Dana asked the Sharjah court for an early hearing date for an appeal which would allow it to participate in the London court case. Proceedings in London are expected to resume by Nov. 13, a ruling on the case could be issued on that date or shortly afterwards.

Scope of #waqf in #Malaysia should be expanded

The scope of waqf funds need to be expanded in Malaysia beyond the traditional norms of building mosques and Muslim cemeteries. Bank Rakyat chairman Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh said the waqf funds can be fully utilised in other programmes. Cash waqf, he added, had been identified as one of the major tools that could resolve poverty issues in Malaysia. In order to eradicate poverty, Shukry said waqf funds should be distributed within four key sectors, namely health, education, economic development and financial assistance for small enterprises. He also said that even though a lot of waqf efforts have been made, the waqf collection system needs to be streamlined and improved professionally.

Social Islami Bank faces ‘hostile’ takeover

After the top level management of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd (IBBL) was removed in January, a similar series of drastic changes takes place in Social Islami Bank Ltd (SIBL). SIBL Chairman Rezaul Haque and Executive Committee Chairman Md Anisul Hoque were replaced by Prof Anwarul Azim Arif and Belal Ahmed. The Managing Director of SIBL, Shahid Hossain, has also stepped down and been replaced by Quazi Osman Ali. The decision to remove the top three of the senior management and the announcement on their replacements was made at a closed door meeting of the bank’s board of directors. The changes are allegedly being backed by Chittagong-based S Alam Group that bought up shares of both banks prior to the takeover.

Former Swiss Bankers’ Associations’ Head of Compliance and Data Protection joins Lexpert Partners AG

Lexpert Partners AG, a Zug based law firm specialised in providing legal and regulatory advice for the financial industry and to private clients, has appointed Dr. Andrew Ertl, as Partner, effective as of November 1, 2017. Andrew Ertl will be focusing on banking and finance law with a specialist know-how in Sharia compliant structuring as well as data protection law (including GDPR).

Andrew Ertl joins Lexpert Partners from the Swiss Bankers’ Association where he held the position of Head of Compliance and Data Protection and was member of senior management.

Prior to joining the Swiss Bankers’ Association, Andrew Ertl worked as general counsel and secretary of the Board for Peak Values AG, and as in-house counsel for Bank Sarasin & Cie AG and UBS AG.

Andrew Ertl has a doctorate of law (Dr. iur.) from the University of Bern (2012), [Thesis Sharia compliant financial products under Swiss Law] and an additional Masters degree from the University of Edinburgh (UK) in European Commercial Law. Andrew Ertl is fluent in English and German and proficient in French.

Thomson Reuters Provides Shariah-Compliant Deal #Application to Alinma Bank

Thomson Reuters will provide Alinma Bank with a Shariah-compliant application. It will fully automate deal workflow for Shariah-compliant financial transactions. The application provides a real-time view of Shariah-compliant deals, through an automated online system that minimizes the process of tracking transactions. Alinma Head of Treasury, Abdullah Al Zahrani, said that he was pleased to be the first bank in Saudi Arabia to partner with Thomson Reuters to bring innovative solutions to the Shariah-compliant banking. Nadim Najjar, Managing Director for MENA at Thomson Reuters, said this innovative application would automate the validation process and offer a seamless digital solution for the industry.

#Algeria: Three public banks to start offering Islamic finance services before the end of 2017

In Algeria, three public lending institutions will start offering Islamic finance services before the end of the year. They are the Banque de l’agriculture et du développement Rural (BADR), the Caisse Nationale d’Epargne et de Prévoyance (CNEP) and the Banque de Développement Local (BDL). Currently, in Algeria only Al Baraka Bank and Salam Bank are allowed to offer participative finance products to their clients. They are in fact competing in this sector with private lenders that offer both traditional and Islamic banking services. Boualem Djebbar, president of Algerian banks and financial institutions’ association, said a democratization of Islamic finance by 2018 should be expected in the country.

The ‘flexible’ Shariah practice of Islamic banking in #Bangladesh

Islamic banking in Bangladesh is taking shape rapidly with partial practice of Shariah. Islamic banking was first introduced in Bangladesh in 1983 by foreign investors from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Currently, eight full-fledged Islamic banks are operating with 1,068 branches in the country. Moreover, 19 Islamic banking branches of nine commercial banks and 25 Islamic banking windows of eight commercial banks are also providing Islamic financial services. According to Md Yasin Ali, professor of Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM), most of the Islamic Banks in Bangladesh are not Shariah compliant. Currently, there is no proper regulatory framework for strict monitoring of Islamic banking. The Islamic banks in Bangladesh have been facing excess liquidity problem, which is depriving them of being financiers in public projects.

AAOIFI, ACCA sign MoU

The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the Association of the Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Bahrain. The MoU aims at enhancing the cooperation between the specialized professional accounting fellowship issued by AAOIFI, Certified Islamic Professional Accountant (CIPA) and the international professional fellowship ACCA. According to Farhan Noor, AAOIFI's Head of Professional Development, the new CIPA now requires the candidates to pass four module exams and fulfill a one-year practical experience requirement. By this agreement, ACCA qualified accountants can now get exemptions from half of the CIPA program to acquire the prestigious CIPA Fellowship. The MoU also includes cooperation in different areas such as research, events and continuous development.

#Saudi Regulator Urges Consolidation in Crowded #Insurance Sector

Saudi Arabia’s insurance industry needs more consolidation and foreign input to help create solid companies. According to Ahmed Alkholifey, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), there are some small firms which are incapable of surviving in the market in their current condition. There are 33 insurance firms listed on the country’s stock exchange with a combined market value of $11.1 billion. The governor said two foreign firms would soon increase their stakes in Saudi insurance companies, but did not mention names. Banque Saudi Fransi sold an 18.5% stake in Allianz Saudi Fransi Cooperative Insurance to Allianz Europe BV. In June, Al-Ahlia Insurance started non-binding talks with Gulf Union on a proposed merger. An agreement is expected to be reached by the first half of 2018.

#Saudi Arabia considers issuing international #sukuk early next year- Maaal

Saudi Arabia plans to issue an international sukuk in the first quarter of 2018. Fahad Al-Saif, head of the debt management office, said the government would issue domestic sukuk in November and December. Saudi Arabia issued its debut international sukuk earlier this year, raising $9 billion.

ADIB launches second Advanced & Autonomous Car #Equities basket note following high demand

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) launched a second 'Advanced & Autonomous Car' Equities Basket Note, following high investor demand for the first tranche. The Shariah-compliant note matures in one year and provides 100% capital protection. The product provides investors with exposure to a basket of five leading car manufacturers, including Daimler, SAP, Volkswagen, BMW and Tesla. The minimum investment for the note is US$30,000, with an option for early redemption after three months. In September 2017, the bank launched a similar equity basket note, which provided investors with exposure to a basket of nine companies operating across the car industry. On September 7, 2017, an ADIB Shariah-compliant diversified equity basket note capturing the performance of undervalued blue-chip yielded 5.45% upon its maturity.

DMCC and Dubai SME to develop Shariah compliant #trade finance #platform for SMEs

DMCC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai SME to create a web-based trade finance platform for SMEs. The platform will be Sharia-compliant and operate under the DMCC Authority regulatory framework. Present at the signing ceremony was Gautam Sashittal, CEO of DMCC and Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME. Gautam Sashittal said this cooperation between DMCC and Dubai SME opens a new avenue for funding and financing SMEs. Al Janahi said the SME sector in the UAE has evolved remarkably during the past decade chiefly due to support from the government. He added that this MoU was among a series of partnerships created after identifying the gap that existed in the SME landscape in terms of mobilising resources. DMCC is using Alternative International Management Services (AIMS) to make the platform Sharia-compliant.

Issuance of P50-billion Marawi #bond proposed

The #Philippines House of Representatives has approved the government’s plan of tapping the bond market to finance the reconstruction of Marawi City. Ben P. Evardone said the Bureau of Treasury should pursue the issuance of a P50-billion 'Marawi Bond' considering the low interest rates prevailing in the market. By tapping the bond market to finance Marawi’s reconstruction, the lawmaker said this will free up a huge part of the regular budget for government’s other programs. According to Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, the government would allocate P15 billion to Marawi City in the next two years. He also added the tax settlement paid by Mighty Corp. and Philippine Airlines would be used to finance the rehabilitation of the war-torn city.

Mazoon #Sukuk receives Fitch rating

Fitch Ratings has assigned Mazoon Electricity Company's Sukuk an expected rating of 'BBB'. The expected rating is in line with Mazoon Electricity’s Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of 'BBB', which has a negative outlook. Mazoon Assets Company’s is the issuer of the certificates and trustee and is a closed joint stock company in accordance with the laws of the Sultanate. The trustee has been incorporated solely for the purpose of participating in the transactions contemplated by the transaction documents. Earlier, Moody’s Investors Service assigned a Baa2 rating to Mazoon’s Sukuk certificates. The outlook on all ratings is negative.

Emir Sanusi to launch #Takaful insurance Monday

The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, is expected to launch Kano branch of Jaiz Takaful Insurance on Monday 30th October, 2017. Jaiz Takaful's CEO Momodou Musa Joof said the company would tap Emir Sanusi’s royal blessing to improve on insurance penetration in Nigeria and Kano in particular. The ceremony which will partly feature parley between the top management officials of the Company and Kano business communities and associations, would have the Company’s Board Chairman, Dr. Umaru Abdul Mutalab as a special guest.

Islamic Development Bank to finance African #infrastructure projects

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has approved a multi-million-dollar package of financing to boost infrastructure investments in seven African nations. Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Tunisia and Suriname will benefit from a share of the total $805 million deals for investments in energy, housing, agriculture and water supply. IDB president Dr Bandar Hajjar signed the agreements with the finance ministers of the beneficiary countries. Cote d'Ivoire will receive $265m for the Cocody Bay project and vocational training. Mali will receive $166m for the country’s Sirakoro power plant project and Burkina Faso will receive $104m for a power project. Guinea is to receive $16m for a rural water supply project and Tunisia will receive $80m for agricultural development. Senegal and Suriname will receive a total of $173 for housing projects.

#Malaysia's #Green Islamic #Sukuk funds green tech projects

Malaysia has the potential for green financing 130 potential projects comprising 111 renewable energy (RE) projects and 19 energy efficiency (EE) projects that are worth about RM1.9 billion and RM248 million. Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said the country was on the right path to be the world leader in green investment. Maximus said Malaysia was leading the world in green investment through the introduction of Green Islamic SRI (Sustainable and Responsible Investment) Sukuk. This year Malaysia issued the Green Islamic SRI Sukuk amounting RM250 million for solar project to Tadau Energy and RM1 billion for Quantum Solar Park Malaysia. The recently launched Green Technology Master Plan 2017 (GTMP) is aimed to create a low carbon economy. Maximus also said Malaysia was committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emission intensity of its Gross Domestic Product by up to 45% by year 2030 in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

Iranian Banks, #Fintechs Shine in #Iran Transaction #Exhibition

Banks, fintechs, financial solution vendors and startups were present in full force at the Third Iran Transaction Exhibition (ITE). The exhibition was inaugurated by Mohammad Morad Bayat, chief executive of FABA, a government-owned center for promotion of electronic banking. He said that 56 startup companies have taken part in this year’s event and that fintechs are not banks' enemies, as the future will be one of cooperation between the two. The Iranian Parliament also had a representative in the exhibition, who said the government has assigned a whole chapter specifically to electronic banking. Various payment systems, banking solutions, real-estate financial services and insurance facilitators were showcased at the exhibition.

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