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RM100b corporate bonds, #sukuk issuances to be expected

The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) is expecting up to RM100 billion worth of corporate bonds and sukuk issuance this year. The regulator said the Covid-19 outbreak and the resultant disruption on businesses have affected fundraising activities. Thus any non-payment of profit arising from the current challenging operating landscape is very likely due to credit rather than Shariah issues and would therefore be dealt with from a credit perspective. SC deputy CEO Datuk Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin said that Malaysia continues to maintain its leadership in the Islamic capital markets (ICMs). The SC noted that ICM represented 63.57% of Malaysia’s capital market, with market size of RM2.04 trillion as of December 2019, an 8.23% growth over 2018. The SC added that the Islamic fund management industry also witnessed new and innovative investment product offerings. These include Islamic exchange-traded funds based on gold, SRI Islamic funds, as well as social and green sukuk.

ADCB to lead NMC Health lenders group formed to hold talks on $6.6bn debt

NMC Health's biggest creditors have set up a coordinating committee, taking a major step toward restructuring the $6.6 billion debt of the hospital operator. The company asked Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) to chair a coordinating committee of debtholders. Deloitte and Clifford Chance have been appointed to advise the committee while Lazard will work with its chair. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Barclays and Standard Chartered will join Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank to form an initial steering group that will lead talks with NMC. NMC is being run by administrators Alvarez & Marsal after succumbing to creditor demands. NMC Health was suspended in February amid allegations of fraud. It has revealed more than $4 billion of undisclosed borrowings, pushing its total debt to $6.6 billion.

#Malaysia’s BIMB Investment launches Shariah-ESG robo-advisor

BIMB Investment launched a robo-intelligence investing platform focused on sustainable and Shariah-ESG assets. BEST Invest will give investors access to a suite of BIMB Investment’s Shariah-ESG unit trust funds across asset classes including global equities, Asia Pacific equities, sukuk, and money market. BIMB Investment became an official signatory of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) in July last year. At the time, the company’s CEO said it had integrated more than 250 ESG metrics in its investment process since 2015. The new robo-advisor will allow users to either start investing for themselves or enable the system to identify and select the best investment methods. Investments start at 10 ringgit with a zero sales charge.

#UK digital challenger bank Rizq eyeing summer launch

Rizq, a UK-based Islamic digital challenger bank is preparing for its launch this summer. Akmal Saleem, the fintech’s co-founder and CEO is positioning Rizq from the Muslim lifestyle perspective, so the new bank wants to solve mainstream banking issues for Muslims in the West. According to Saleem, Muslims in the UK still use conventional current accounts because they do not see a true alternative. Established in late February, Rizq will be both an app and web-based digital challenger bank. The company has applied for a license from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the registration is on track for acceptance by May 29. The digital challenger will offer a current account first and a premium account at a later stage. The company is working with a major card provider and will offer a debit card for both accounts.

#Egypt FRA eyes 5 #sukuk offerings in 2020

Egypt's Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) plans for five new sukuk offerings worth EGP 5 billion this year. In early April, FRA approved issuing the first-of-kind sukuk in favor of the Arab Company for Projects and Urban Development, a subsidiary of TMG Holding (TMGH). The total value of this Islamic financing facility is estimated at EGP 2 billion. Additionally, Sarwa Capital has been granted in July 2019 the country’s first sukuk issuer license by FRA. This gives Sarwa the green light to issue Islamic bonds through its sukuk arm, Sarwa Sukuk Company.

Govt to raise Rs225bln through Ijara #Sukuk auction in three months

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued the auction calendar for issuance of Rs225 billion sovereign Sukuk based on Ijarah. Pre-auction target is set at Rs75 billion for April, while similar amounts are set for May and June 2020. The latest issuance is the part of Rs700 billion worth Ijara Sukuk. The federal cabinet approved the launching of this bond early this month. The bond would help mobilise excessive funds available with Islamic banks and help the government to diversify its debt. Last week, the World Bank said the economic output was expected to contract sharply in Q4FY20, bringing overall FY20 growth to negative 1.3%.

#Sukuk auction announced to finance budget deficit

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) announced the auction for three-year Ijara Sukuk to raise some Rs 225 billion for the federal government. Recently, the federal cabinet approved the issuance of a five-year Ijara Sukuk to generate some Rs700 billion to meet the rising financial requirements for combating COVID-19. Three tenders will be conducted for the sale of the Rs 225 billion sukuk. The first auction will be held on April 16, 2020 for Rs 75 billion, the second on May 16 for Rs 75 billion and the third is scheduled for June 18, 2020 for Rs 75 billion. Pakistan has been issuing Sukuk since 2008 to provide liquidity to the domestic Islamic industry; however, demand for such instruments far surpasses their supply.

Administrators of NMC Health Revamp Company's Board

The administrators of troubled hospital operator NMC Health have announced a new board of directors. Previous board members, including executive chairman Faisal Belhoul have been removed. The move came after London's High Court on Thursday placed NMC Health into administration, on the application of one of its biggest lenders, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB). Michael Brenden Davis remains as interim chief executive officer and chief operating officer, but does not sit on the company's board.

COVID-19: Indonesian banks face challenging time but hopes remain

The spread of COVID-19 is expected to hit Indonesian banks’ performance this year, but analysts remain hopeful that the industry will still be resilient. The Financial Services Authority (OJK) recorded gross non-performing loan (NPL) ratio at 2.79% in February, the highest level since May last year. Loan growth, meanwhile, stood at 5.93% in the month, reflecting the lowest expansion since November 2009, as demand plunged. The rise in bad loan ratio is also expected to increase pressure on banks’ profitability, even on Indonesian banks, which are considered to be some of the most profitable in the world. Although Moody’s expects bank profitability to decrease, vice president Alka Anbarasu also said Indonesian banks could still survive during the challenging climate as they could absorb the increase in credit costs.

#Oman's Taageer Finance and Sohar disclose 4.67m rial exposure to NMC

Oman's Taageer Finance and Sohar International Bank disclosed they have exposures to NMC Health. Taageer has a 1.23 million rial (Dh11.72m) exposure to NMC, while Sohar International Banke's exposure stays at 3.45m rials. Last week NMC was placed in administration by a UK court on the application of one of its biggest lenders, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. The joint administrators from turnaround advisory firm Alvarez & Marsal will take immediate control of NMC Health and will work on behalf of all stakeholders. In February, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority launched an investigation into NMC's activities after the company's shares were suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange.

#Bahrain’s Al-Salam Bank appoints new chairman

Al-Salam Bank-Bahrain has announced the appointment of Sheikh Khalid bin Mustahail Al-Mashani as the chairman of the board of directors. He is now replacing Khaleefa Butti bin Omair bin Yousif Al-Muhairi, who submitted his resignation as chairman and board member of the bank. Sheikh Khalid has more than 24 years of banking experience.

Is this stock halal? Islamic finance charts high-tech future

The Zoya mobile application screens US-listed stocks based on criteria issued by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions. US-based Wahed Invest also uses those criteria to help tens of thousands of people invest "ethically". Islamic bankers are hoping that modern platforms will open the industry up to young investors, and that its innately ethical credentials will prove to be another draw. According to Mohammed al-Sehli, CEO of Wethaq Capital, the emphasis has been on growing the market rather than making it more efficient. The sector must focus more on innovation after suffering from lack of innovation, standardisation and automation of processes.

Global #sukuk issuance down 32% in Q1 2020, recovery expected in Q3

The volumes of the global issuance of sukuk have dropped 32% in the first quarter of this year against Q1 2019, and a further decline is expected in Q2 2020, as several countries implement measures to control the spread of COVID19. Most government issuers of sukuk are likely to turn to conventional bond markets as they grapple with the impact of weaker economic environments and tight budgets. S&P Global Ratings identified two major trends for sukuk in 2020 - defaults and slowdown of the innovative sukuk issuance. Given the shocks to the economic environment and rapid change in market conditions, the advisory firm expects credit risk to increase sharply.

#Egypt approves first issuance of sukuk by Talaat Mostafa subsidiary

Egypt's Financial Regulatory Authority approved the first issuance of sukuk worth 2 billion Egyptian pounds ($127 million) by a subsidiary of Talaat Mostafa Group. The sukuk, issued by the subsidiary Arab Company for Projects and Urban Development, will be available for trading and for expedited payment but will not be transferable for shares. The new sukuk period is for 57 months, up to the end of 2024. Talaat Mostafa Group is Egypt's largest listed real estate developer.

NMC Health set for administration as negotiation attempts with creditors fail

Abu Dhabi's biggest healthcare company is heading for administration as the company revealed it had been unable to secure an agreement on its debt. NMC Health has made a series of damaging disclosures in the past few months after a report by activist investor Muddy Waters in December alleged it inflated cash balances, overpaid for assets and understated its debt. Following the disclosures, chairmen and executives departed from the firm. According to a disclosure from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), NMC Health owes money to more than 80 local, regional and international lenders. ADCB said it expects joint administrators to launch a full, transparent and independent investigation into the company's affairs and the misrepresentation of its finances.

COVID-19 and Islamic Law Roundup (4/4)

Countries and communities around the world are working to contain COVID-19 and mitigate its effects. Religious communities use digital tools, such as Zoom, to host services, lead classes on spiritual cultivation, and build community amidst mosque closures. North American Muslims change funerary rites in response to the contagious nature of COVID-19. Ulama’ of Al-Azhar University issue fatwa banning congregational prayers.

NMC Health expects to enter administration

Healthcare company NMC Health failed to reach agreement with its creditors. Its major lender, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) has filed an application in the UK's High Court requesting the company be placed into administration. ADCB’s exposure to NMC amounts to around $981m. US short seller Muddy Waters raised questions about the company’s true level of debt in December. In February the stock was suspended after the investigation turned up inconsistencies in its finances and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority opened an investigation into the business.

The IILM Issues a total of USD 1.06 billion #sukuk

The International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) has issued three short-term A-1 rated sukuk for a total amount of USD1.06 billion. The auction drew more than USD1.85 billion in demand. With over 60 orders from diversified investors, the Islamic Primary Dealers got allocations across all tenors of up to 90% of the total issuances. The USD300 million 1-month sukuk were offered at 1.15%, while the USD460 million 3-month and USD300 million 6-month series were offered at 1.55% and 1.73%, respectively. With today’s auction, the IILM successfully crossed the 100th mark in sukuk issued since 2013, which amounts to a cumulative issuances of over USD53 billion.

Time to mobilise #zakat, retail #sukuk for Indonesia’s COVID-hit MSMEs – KNEKS official

An official of Indonesia’s National Committee for Islamic Economy and Finance (KNEKS) says that Islamic finance instruments and domestic retail sukuk are more sustainable financial support alternatives for COVID-hit MSMEs than loans from multilaterals. Indonesia’s government last week announced a 405.1 trillion rupiah ($24.65 billion) financial package to support households and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The potential of zakat in Indonesia is valued at around 286 trillion rupiah a year, according to the national zakat body BAZNAS. But actual collection is a far cry, at around only 9.5 trillion rupiah ($577.3 million) in 2019. On the possibility of a domestic retail sukuk, there are ongoing discussions on the instrument’s structure and mechanisms.

COVID-19 to impact GCC #sukuk issuance in 2020

According to rating agency Moody’s, Islamic finance is set to keep expanding in 2020 and beyond as the GCC countries and Malaysia help drive growth in Shariah-compliant financial products. Moody’s VP-Senior Credit Officer Nitish Bhojnagarwala expects sukuk issuance to remain stable at around $180 billion this year and the takaful insurance market will see steady growth. He added that downside risks are also rising because of the coronavirus outbreak, as prolonged market disruption could dissuade issuers from coming to market. The rating agency expects flat growth in total global issuance this year after a 36% rise in 2019 to $179 billion. Islamic banking penetration in the core Islamic financial markets of GCC, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey, increased to 31.2% in September 2019, from 25.5% in 2013.

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