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#Qatar banks seek Asian, European funding as diplomatic crisis bites

Qatari banks are turning to Asia and Europe for funding after clients from other Arab states pulled billions of dollars from their accounts. Analysts warn that more heavy withdrawals are likely in the coming months. Qatar Islamic Bank has recently raised funds through private placement deals in Japanese yen and Australian dollars. It is now exploring more such deals in Europe and Asia, as well as a certificate of deposit program and a Murabaha facility. Many Qatari banks are facing greater urgency to secure funding since June when the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a boycott on Qatar, accusing it of funding terrorism. Qatar denies the allegations. The crisis has led to an outflow of around $7.5 billion in foreign customers' deposits and a further $15 billion in foreign interbank deposits and borrowings. In response, Qatar's government deposited nearly $18 billion with local banks in June and July.

#Saudi Arabia nudges yields down in 13b riyal #sukuk sale

Saudi Arabia auctioned 13 billion riyals ($3.5 billion) of local currency sukuk, with the offer 295% subscribed. It sold 2.1 billion riyals of five-year, 7.7 billion riyals of seven-year and 3.2 billion riyals of 10-year sukuk. The size of the issue was down slightly from the government’s offer in July, when it sold 17 billion riyals and attracted 51 billion of bids. The ministry qualified 13 Saudi banks to buy its sukuk issues in the primary market but hopes other institutional investors will eventually buy in the secondary market. Also, yields on Riyadh’s internationally issued US dollar sukuk have come down by about 12 to 15 basis points since the last domestic sale. Investment expert Mohieddine Kronfol said the way in which domestic and international Saudi yields were linked was a positive sign for Riyadh’s effort to develop a healthy debt market.

Applying VAT to Islamic finance products can get complicated

Some countries have introduced laws to level the playing field between Islamic and conventional finance when it comes to the relationship between VAT and financial products. Whereas countries like Malaysia and Singapore have legislated to level the playing field between conventional and Islamic finance by recognising its religious underpinning, the United Kingdom have dealt with the issue in a not dissimilar manner but with a secular approach. Customers have enough difficulty understanding conventional finance. Investment in training to ensure product sales persons can comfortably communicate their Islamic finance offerings will be essential.

Islamic finance, a big chance to back SDGs

The #Indonesian National Alms Agency (BAZNAS) agreed to support the widening of electricity access to the poor in Jambi province in July. This marked the first official disbursement of the Islamic zakat fund to support the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Indonesia.

#Qatar's new food security depot receives $439mln in funding

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has agreed a 1.6 billion Qatari riyal ($439.4 million) funding deal with Al Jaber Engineering (JEC) to finance a large food security facility at the new Hamad Port. The new food security facility is being built on a 530,000 square metre site and contains facilities that can be used for storing, processing and manufacturing of various foods. The complex will house rice silos, oil storage tanks and associated infrastructure. The funding deal was signed by QIB's CEO, Bassel Gamal, and JEC CEO Osama Hadid. Gamal said the bank was proud to finance JEC’s food security facilities project which is of strategic importance to the country. Hadid added that JEC would be responsible for both the design and construction of the new food security facility. Hamad Port is a $7.4 billion project which has been built to the south of the country's capital, Doha.

Toronto-Based Wealthsimple Launches Shariah-Compliant Portfolio

#Canadian Wealthsimple Financial introduced a Shariah-compliant portfolio to expand its product offerings in an increasingly crowded robo-adviser market. According to co-founder Michael Katchen, Wealthsimple’s Halal Investing portfolio is aimed at setting the company apart from its peers. He expects the portfolio’s interest to closely mirror the company’s socially responsible products. Wealthsimple’s fees are a flat 0.5% for the first $100,000 invested and drop to 0.4% on any additional investment. Privately held Wealthsimple has raised 100 million Canadian dollars ($79.6 million) over several funding rounds over the past three years led by a subsidiary of the Power Corporation of Canada. Katchen said he expects to tap another round of venture funding before seeking an initial public offering.

EGP 11.7bn funding portfolio of #corporate finance in Abu Dhabi Islamic bank by end of June 2017

The corporate sector in #Egypt acquired EGP 11.7bn of the total loans portfolio in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank-Egypt until the end of June 2017. The bank continued its programme to fund small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The sector continued its growth also in the field of retail banking, reaching EGP 4.3bn, whereas the volume of the portfolio managed by the treasury sector in the bank is estimated at EGP 12.2bn. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank-Egypt revealed its business results for H1 2017, where total net profits during that period reached EGP 339m with EGP 148m increase by 78% compared to H1 2016. Total revenues reached EGP 1.841bn compared to EGP 1.225bn, with a growth of 50%. The volume of growth in total assets reached 30% by the end of June 2017 compared to June 2016. In its report the bank stressed its commitment to developing the technological infrastructure and investing in human resources.

#Saudi Arabia's Largest Bank Said to Hire #Investment Banking Head

Sameer Nawaz has been appointed head of investment banking at Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Capital. Nawaz will be responsible for building an investment banking team at the securities division of Al Rajhi Bank. Previously, he was co-head of investment banking at Saudi Fransi Capital. Usman Sikander, who was co-head of investment banking at Saudi Fransi Capital with Nawaz, will become head of investment banking. Banks are hiring in Riyadh in anticipation of a boom in fees as the government ramps up efforts to wean the economy off oil. Elyas Algaseer, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group's co-head said that the bank was looking to hire in Saudi Arabia in expectation that privatizations in the country could exceed $350 billion in about five years.

Moody's: Islamic Development Bank benefits from strong capital, prudent risk management

According to Moody's Investors Service, Islamic Development Bank's (IsDB) credit strengths include a strong capital base, prudent financial and risk management policies. The bank's liquidity level is solid, which supports its Aaa rating and stable outlook. Moody's analyst Mathias Angonin said the weighted average rating of IsDB's shareholders is lower than other Aaa-rated development banks, but its 57 members are strongly committed to the organisation. This support is reflected in continued capital increases. The bank's paid-in capital rose to ID 5.1 billion at end-2016, from ID2.7 billion in 2007, and an additional ID 2.4 billion is expected over the next 10 years. Credit challenges include a risky operating environment as well as lower oil prices and the risks from geopolitical tensions. Nonetheless, its operational assets continue to perform well, with a very low level of impairment.

DFSA launches #crowdfunding framework

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) launched its regulatory framework for loan and investment-based crowdfunding platforms. The DFSA crowdfunding regulations have the ability to catalyse growth in the FinTech industry by targeting the specific requirements of crowdfunding platforms. The regulations ensure clear governance for FinTech businesses and provide appropriate protection for their customers. They also formalise the DFSA’s approach to regulating crowdfunding platforms which had operated since 2016. Data provided by the Khalifa Fund shows that approximately 50-70% of SMEs have had their applications for funding from conventional banks rejected. Crowdfunding is expected to grow further in importance in the UAE as entrepreneurs seek alternative sources of funding.

Talent deficit in Islamic finance affects quality #sukuk issuance

The shortage of high-quality sukuk in the Islamic finance market is a result of the deficit in virtuous talent, according to Datuk Mohammad Faiz Azmi, Former Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) president. He also said there was a lack of safe assets at present, leaving issuances by the government always oversubscribed. He added that the opportunity now existed for sukuk issuance from Indonesia, which has a lot of infrastructure plans such as to build more roads, have trains, ports, better airports and others. In a recent Bank Negara strategic paper, the central bank revealed that the annual growth rate of the Islamic finance industry had slowed from 24.2% in 2011 to 8.2% last year. Mohammad Faiz said MIA has launched the Mini Pupillage Programme to create a pool of knowledgeable and specialised talents in the area of Islamic finance.

World Bank sees massive potential in #green #sukuk

The #Malaysian company Tadau Energy became the first entity in the world to issue a green sukuk. Called Green SRI Sukuk Tadau, the RM250 million Sustainable Responsible Investment (SRI) syariah-compliant bond holds a tenure of up to 16 years. RAM Rating Services assigned it a long-term rating of "AA3". The framework underlying the green sukuk’s debut is the result of a collaboration between Bank Negara Malaysia, the Securities Commission (SC) and the World Bank. World Bank country manager Faris Hadad-Zervos called the issuance of the green sukuk a historic event, not just for Malaysia but for the whole world. Faris stressed the creation of the framework was key in making the world’s first SRI sukuk a reality. World Bank financial specialist Jose De Luna Martinez said the Tadau sukuk would potentially lead Malaysia to be a green sukuk hub of the Asean region.

DGCX to launch region’s first Sharia compliant Spot #Gold contract

The Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) and Ayedh Dejem Group have agreed to develop and launch the Middle East’s first Sharia compliant Spot Gold contract to be traded on an international exchange. This development is reflective of the growing potential of the Saudi Arabian and wider GCC regions Sharia compliant gold markets. Ayedh Bin Dejem, Chairman for the Group, said this cross-border collaboration offered access to the regional gold and commodities market. It provides customers with improved hedging and investment solutions in compliance with Sharia law. DGCX Chief Executive Gaurang Desai added that Amanie Advisors LLC, the leading global Islamic Finance advisory firm, have been selected to advise on the initiative. The launch of this product appealing to a wider range of investors in the region is an ideal way for the Exchange to extend its reach.

Abu Dhabi Global Market launches first #foundations regime in the #UAE

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has launched a Foundations regime in support of more effective structures for wealth preservation and wealth management. The new ADGM Foundations regime provides a strategic platform for financial planning and structuring, serving as an alternative to trusts and corporate vehicles. The platform offers a variety of services, including family succession planning, tax planning, asset protection, wealth management and corporate structuring, without relying on foreign regimes and practises. Both local and foreign entities will benefit from the ease-of-doing-business environment. The ADGM Foundations Regime creates a new type of legal structure with its own distinct attributes. It combines compliance regime with a high degree of operational autonomy to the founder and offers access to the double tax treaty network of the United Arab Emirates.

Financial inclusion through Islamic #microfinance

According to statistics from the World Bank, an estimated two billion adults worldwide do not have access to basic financial services. Realising this fact, the World Bank has partnered with public and private sector institutions and established the Universal Financial Access by 2020 (UFA2020) initiative to promote financial inclusion. As the main aim of the microfinance industry is to alleviate poverty, Islamic microfinance is a branch of that with Islamic financial principles. In Cambodia the Islamic microfinance industry is still in the nascent stage. Recently, the Cambodian government has opened its doors to two Islamic microfinance institutions into Cambodia namely Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) and Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam Malaysia (YAPEIM). AIM is currently setting up its branch office in Cambodia while YAPEIM is slated to come in by the first quarter of 2018.

Going For Listing: Ihsan #Sukuk for a good cause

Ihsan Sukuk is Malaysia's first sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) sukuk for retail investors and is now listed on Bursa Malaysia. The RM100 million issuance is the second Sukuk Ihsan programme, the first having been a RM100 million tranche issued in 2015 only for institutional investors. While the minimum investment is RM1,000, the sovereign wealth fund also provided room for small-scale investors to start from as low as RM10 via two crowdfunding platforms ATAPLUS and pitchIN. The proceeds will be channelled into the Yayasan AMIR Trust Schools Programme aimed at improving access to quality education at government schools. The sukuk’s tenure is seven years and both the retail and non-retail sukuk holders will receive annual payments. The principal adviser and lead arranger is CIMB Investment Bank Bhd, while the joint lead managers are Maybank Investment Bank and RHB Investment Bank.

#Merger set to create largest #takaful firm

The entire business of Solidarity General Takaful (SGT) is proposed to be transferred to Al Ahlia Insurance Company. The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) received separate applications from SGT and Al Ahlia. SGT has applied to transfer its business to Al Ahlia and be dissolved under article 66 of CBB Law. SGT, a subsidiary of Solidarity Group Holding, is aiming to consolidate its position through the merger. The combined entity, which would be named Solidarity Bahrain, will have a paid-up capital of BD11.2 million and an estimated 15% market share with 10 branches, making it the largest takaful company in the country. In order to facilitate the merger, Al Ahlia shareholders approved the conversion of the insurance licence from conventional to takaful. Last year, Solidarity acquired a majority stake in Bahrain Bourse (BHB)-listed Al Ahlia Insurance Company via an open offer in a deal worth BD10.7m. Officials had said then that Al Ahlia would continue to be listed on BHB.

Islamic finance industry hampered by global economic conditions

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) released its IFSB Industry Stability 2017 Report. It states that global economic volatilities, consistently low oil prices and reduced demand for credit are among the factors that currently weigh on the Islamic financial service industry. The study says that 2016 marked another year of slower growth amid adverse macro-economic conditions. They include adjustments in the value of global Islamic banking assets in US dollar terms on the back of exchange rate depreciations in countries such as Malaysia, Turkey and Indonesia, as well as the persistent lack of global standardisation, and lower liquidity and profitability compared to the conventional banking sector. According to the IFSB, the global size of the Islamic financial service industry has not changed much, with total Islamic finance assets just slightly increasing to $1.89tn from $1.88tn. Another factor that affected asset growth was the currency depreciation in Iran, the world’s largest Islamic finance jurisdiction in terms of assets.

PNB mulls introduction of Islamic shares for Maybank

Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) is studying a potential issuance of Islamic shares (i-shares) by Malayan Banking (Maybank). PNB group chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar said currently about 25% of the Maybank group’s earnings come from the syariah-compliant businesses, and proposed that 20% of the group’s shares can be designated as i-shares. The move to list i-shares would provide an extra boost to the Malaysian Islamic capital market, said Abdul Wahid. He added that there are currently only two listed syariah-compliant financial institutions in Malaysia, BIMB Holdings and Syarikat Takaful Malaysia. If the plan goes through, it will create RM20 billion worth of new syariah-compliant instruments, which is three times bigger than BIMB’s market capitalisation. Abdul Wahid added that the group is looking at three asset classes for further investments overseas, namely public equities, private equities and real estate.

Dana Gas bondholders could be liable for ‘unlawful’ #Sukuk

Holders of Dana Gas’s sukuk could be liable to repay the company excess on account profit payments. The company said it had sought legal advice on the matter. Advisers said that the terms of the Sukuk are not compliant with Shari’a principles and are unlawful under the laws of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company is now pursuing the litigation route to resolve the matter and is confident pursuant to independent legal advice of prevailing in its interpretation of the outcome.

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