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Common Shariah norms for Islamic finance still remain a tricky issue

Shariah governance and regulations in Islamic finance remain a diverse topic despite countless initiatives to set a common international framework. There are different approaches towards establishing unified standards. Another issue is that Islamic scholars are often of different opinion on a subject, owing to different interpretations of Islamic laws. In countries with more liberal interpretations of Shariah rules such as Malaysia or Turkey, economic factors will be given more weight at the cost of Shariah principles, which can lead to a conflict of interest. Countries with comprehensive guidelines on Shariah banking are Sudan, Indonesia and Malaysia. Oman, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria also have regulatory bodies and common guidelines. The UAE, Kuwait and Qatar are practising self-regulation of Islamic financial institutions. All this makes a common regulatory structure on Shariah compliance an extremely tricky issue.

#Saudi Arabia’s first #sukuk issuance through primary dealers positive for Islamic capital market development

Saudi Arabia announced the completion of its first sukuk issuance under the primary dealers program. The Saudi government has been a regular issuer of Islamic bonds since the Ministry of Finance established a Saudi riyal-denominated sukuk program last year. In the new primary-dealer system, the Saudi debt management office appointed five local banks to act as primary dealers for local government securities, namely National Commercial Bank, Samba Financial Group, Saudi British Bank, Bank Al-Jazira and Alinma Bank. The appointed primary dealers purchase sukuk sold at auction directly from the government and later place these securities in the secondary market for final investors, acting as market makers for government securities. The government expects that the primary-dealers scheme will develop the local government sukuk market and the debt capital markets in Saudi Arabia.

Islamic Banks' Assets Surge To AED565 Billion In H1 2018

Assets of Islamic banks operating in the UAE amounted to AED565 billion by the end of H1 2018, a 6.7% growth of AED35.5 billion over the corresponding period in 2017. The assets of Islamic banks account for 20.55% of total bank assets in UAE, valued at AED2.749 trillion, by the end of June 2018. The value of credit provided by Islamic Banks during the first half of the year surged to AED367 billion, a growth of 5% against the same period in 2017. Loans and credit facilities provided by Islamic banks made up 22.6% of total loans. Deposits held by Islamic banks amounted to AED392.4 billion, making up 23.3% of total deposits held by UAE banks, estimated at around AED1.7 trillion by the end of June.

Sadiq Khan backs #crowdfunding campaign for pro bono advice app

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has backed a campaign to raise money to boost free legal services to disadvantaged people. The money is being raised on a crowdfunding site for an application that could be made accessible through advice centres and even food banks. According to Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the former president of the Law Society, £25,000 has been raised for the project so far and £2,000 more is needed to launch the six-month pilot this September.

Physical Gold #Fund SP announces Shariah compliance

Physical Gold Fund SP (PGF) has been endorsed as Shariah-compliant by Amanie Advisors. Amanie Advisors issued the fatwa in accordance with the Shariah Standard on Gold set by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and developed in cooperation with the World Gold Council. According to Alex Stanczyk, managing director of Physical Gold Fund SP, this fund is unique in the Mena region and is a perfect fit for the values expected by Islamic investors.

BRIEF-#Qatar Islamic #Insurance Receives C.Bank Nod To Change Name

Qatar Islamic Insurance Company received central bank approval to change its name to Group Islamic Insurance Company. The company also received approval from the central bank to establish a real estate company owned 100 percent by the group.

Albaraka Türk launches mobile-only banking service for Europe's Muslim community

Turkey's Albaraka Türk is targeting Europe's Muslim community with the launch of an interest-free digital banking app. "Insha" is initially being rolled out in Germany ahead of a Europe-wide expansion. It features a document-free account opening process and comes complete with a debit card. In addition to financial products, the app offers a range of Islamic-friendly services including a Zakat Calculator and a "Nearest Mosque" locator. Meliksah Utku, general manager at Albaraka Türk, says that the insha project marks the first step in the bank’s strategic entry into the European market.

Shariah investments continue growth spurt in SE Asia

According to the latest Cerulli Associates research, Shariah-compliant investments are gaining further ground in Asia. Growth continues to be concentrated in South-East Asia, with Malaysia remaining at the forefront with $28.4bn in Shariah mutual fund assets under management (AUM) in 2017. Last year, Malaysia’s Securities Commission launched a five-year blueprint to grow the sector. Indonesia grew its Shariah mutual fund market by 90% to nearly $2bn in AUM in 2017. Besides allowing Shariah funds to fully invest overseas, market regulator Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) recently introduced a framework requiring fund managers to carve out dedicated units to manage existing Shariah funds. The Cerulli survey shows that asset managers in the country expect demand for Shariah investments to come mostly from insurers and pensions over the next few years.

GCC bonds, #sukuk issuance rises by 10 per cent

The aggregate primary issuance of bonds and sukuk by GCC entities increased by 9.64 per cent to $95.25 billion in first half of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017.

GFH fully settles $200m #sukuk

Gulf Finance House (GFH) has fully settled its $200 million (Dh734 million) sukuk, which was originally drawn in 2007. The facility, which had its final maturity in July 2018, has now been settled with a recent payment of an outstanding amount of $34 million. GFH posted a 9% increase in its consolidated net profit for the first quarter to March. The total net profit rose to $36.89 million (Dh135.5 million) in the three months to March up from $33.55 million in the first quarter of 2017.

DIB donates Dh3m to Al Jalila Foundation

Al Jalila Foundation has received a donation of Dh3 million from Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) to support it’s Aawen (treatment) programme. Since its inception in 2013, Al Jalila Foundation has supported 467 patients from 36 nationalities, including 190 children, and invested Dh34 million to provide relief to patients who suffer from chronic illnesses. The treatment costs for patients, newborn to 90 years of age, have ranged from to Dh20,000 to Dh250,000 per individual.

Sigma Pensions’ Sharia funds to drive private equity investments

Sigma Pensions has commenced plans to boost investments in private equity through Sharia Funds. Chairman Mark Collier stated this in a conference hosted by the firm recently in Lagos. According to Collier, there is huge interest in Sharia Funds, and Sigma is interested in providing greater choices for its investors and contributors. Sigma CEO David Uduanu said it was vital to discuss ways to increase the penetration of pension funds in private equity. He said Sigma Pensions has started a conversation between the pension funds and the private equity industry that would lead to more investments of pension funds in private equity and more investment of private equities in Nigerian SME’s.

Enact legislation tailored to Islamic finance sector, CBK urged

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) is asked to enact a sector-specific legislation tailored to Islamic finance sector to monitor and regulate transactions. According to Jacqueline Wangui, Partner at MMC Africa Law, the absence of specific legislation on Islamic finance is in itself a hindrance to the realization of the financial benefits. Wangui proposed that embedding a Shariah council within the structure of the CBK could go a long way. The Sharia council would constitute of local and international Islamic scholars to sit in an advisory capacity with the aim of producing a congruent regulatory framework for Islamic financing. Currently, there is no overall regulator at the level of the CBK appointed to specifically oversee the management of Islamic financing and its products.

ADIB plans a Dh1.16bn rights issue and tapping the #sukuk market

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) plans to maintain growth and pay off some of its old debt. The board of ADIB is recommending to increase the bank’s issued capital through more than a Dh1.16 billion rights issue. The proposed deal includes issuing 464 million new shares at a nominal face value of Dh1 per share. The bank’s board has also proposed the issuance of a $750m (Dh2.75 billion) perpetual tier 1 sukuk, and the repayment of its $1bn hybrid tier 1 sukuk issued in 2012. ADIB’s vice-chairman Khamis Buharoon said the pace of the bank's growth has been fast, increasing its number of customers to 1 million in the UAE, nearly double the number it had five years ago. He noted that the bank was raising capital to maintain its growth trajectory, while maintaining a capital buffer.

#Bahrain's Bank Alkhair sells stake in Turkish investment firm

Bahrain’s Bank Alkhair has sold its majority stake in Turkish investment firm Alkhair Capital, as the lender exits some markets. Bank Alkhair entered the Turkish market a decade ago, acquiring an initial 75% stake in the investment firm. The bank has faced a challenging business environment over the past year and is currently streamlining its business lines. Additionally, the bank sold its stake in Pakistani lender Burj Bank and in 2017 the firm upgraded its business licence in the UAE and expanded its capital markets business in Saudi Arabia in a bid to focus on other markets. Now Bank Alkhair has received approval to transfer its 95.79% stake in Alkhair Capital to Ankara-based A1 Capital. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

#UAE private wealth forecast to grow to $590bn by 2022

According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), private wealth in the UAE saw positive growth between 2016 and 2017 of 8% and this growth is projected to remain steady over the next five years. Private wealth is expected to reach $590 billion in investable assets by 2022. The main drivers were the bull market environment in all major economies and the significant strengthening of most major currencies against the dollar. While offshore share is expected to decline over the next five years from 30% in 2017 to 24.1% in 2022, it will continue to grow to reach $140 billion in the UAE in the same period. The report also showed that personal wealth in the Middle East rose by 11% to $3.8 trillion in 2017, a significant increase compared with the rate for the previous five years.

Dr M To Deliver Teleconference Address At Sarajevo Halal #Fair

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has agreed to deliver a keynote address, via teleconferencing, at the three-day Sarajevo Halal Fair. Bosna Bank International's CEO Amer Bukvic announced that the fair would begin on the 27. of September and he invited more Malaysian companies to set up business in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bukvic added that the country aims to become Europe’s halal hub and they need help from Malaysia. The Sarajevo Halal Fair is jointly organised by Bosna Bank International, Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank Group Business Forum and supported by Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation.

Shariah #Fintech – A Case Study of #Indonesia

Fintech has permeated the Islamic banking industry and this development is particularly evident in Indonesia. In July 2018, the country's deputy finance minister Mardiasmo plugged the term "Shariah fintech" in reference to financial technology that is compliant with Islamic laws and beliefs. The market share of Islamic finance remains at less than 5% of the total finance and banking market. There is tremendous potential, but there are some impediments blocking its growth. One is the presumption that certain fintech tools might not be compliant with Shariah law. Cryptocurrency was initially deemed as a violation of Shariah principles. However, in April 2018, Muslim scholar Muhammad Abu-Bakar, released a study exploring the functionalities of Bitcoin, concluding that it did indeed meet the requirements. Indonesia’s OJK (Financial Services Authority) is releasing a new set of regulations to govern the country’s fintech scene, set to come into effect in August 2018. These rules will extend to Shariah-compliant fintech tools as well.

Noor Bank rolls out Noor Wealth

Noor Bank has launched Noor Wealth, a Shari’ah-compliant platform offering tailored product mixes. Noor Wealth targets customers with a minimum of AED 367,300 of assets under management or a minimum salary of AED 50,000. The bank offers mutual funds among other 10 lenders in the GCC and it also offers access to fixed-income products through its Sukuk platform and Islamic structured products. Noor Wealth collaborates with Knight Frank to offer global physical real estate services for its customers. Mufazzal Kajiji, Head of Retail Banking at Noor Bank, said that Noor Wealth currently serves clients from 10 countries and is in the process of expanding.

Islamic #Insurance sector to stay profitable in ’18

The net income of listed companies in the GCC Islamic insurance sector has nearly halved in 2017 to $375m, from $674m in 2016. The decline in 2017 net income was mainly driven by weaker results in the Saudi Arabian insurance sector. S&P Global Ratings believes that medium-term growth prospects in the sector remain satisfactory given relatively low penetration levels. It expects Islamic insurance to remain profitable overall in 2018. The ratings agency also observes strengthening capital levels. The Islamic insurance industry in GCC countries outside Saudi Arabia recorded an increase in net income by about 832% to $82m in 2017 from$9m in 2016. Also, there was an increase of more than 60% in first-quarter 2018 compared with the same period last year. This improvement was mainly driven by better results in the UAE.

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