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Parsoli promoters barred from trading

Zafar and Uves Sareshwala, promoters of broking firm Parsoli Corporation, were debarred by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) after they were found to have fraudulently transferred shares of genuine investors to their own accounts.

S&P: Rated Gulf Islamic Banks And Takaful Companies Resilient In Global Market Dislocation But Facing Risks

Press Release

PARIS, February 27, 2009--Gulf Islamic financial institutions and takaful companies are feeling the repercussions of the current global financial market disruption less than most of their conventional counterparts because Sharia law prohibits interest-based financial products, according to a new report by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.

"IFIs didn't invest in the structured products that have hampered many conventional banks' financial profiles and performance," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Mohamed Damak in the report, titled Rated Gulf Islamic Financial Institutions And Takaful Companies Have Shown Resilience To Global Market Dislocation, But They Are Not Risk Immune. "And most IFIs should be equipped to weather the financial downturn and keep the effects on their financial profiles at manageable levels."

Gatehouse financing European Property

Cecilia Valente reported on 25 February that UK Islamic bank Gatehouse, a unit of Kuwait's Securities House, is set to close its first real estate deal in the coming months, refinancing a continental European property worth about 100 million euros ($128.5 million). The CEO David Testa is cited to have said the bank expected to seal the deal by the end of the second quarter, declining to identify precisely the property or its location. He defines the range of business the four wholesale Islamic banks in the UK could do at deals between GBP 20-40 mn.

Gatehouse, the latest UK-based Islamic bank to be approved by UK market regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA), will finance the deal through a lease and buy-back bond issuance, known as Ijara sukuk.

The sukuk will be placed in the market through the Channel Island-listed Milestone Capital Platform, which the bank said has the capacity to issue debt to up to $1 billion.

Testa said Gatehouse was also involved in raising $50 million for a commodity deal with a Latin American company, which he declined to name.

S&P: Islamic financial institutions suffer from real estate credit exposure

Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) face a significant hit on profits if real estate prices continue to fall in the Middle East according to ratings agency S&P. IFIs' direct exposure to real estate assets in 2008 reached 20 % of total loans, making them vulnerable to an ongoing correction, especially in Dubai.

Unlike their conventional counterparts, IFIs remained immune to price falls in structured products, which prompted write-downs all over the world, the report said.

Islamic gold security to launch in Dubai

A sharia-compliant tradeable security backed by gold will be launched in Dubai next week, Reuters has reported.

Dubai Islamic Bank posts USD 471 mn profit for 2008

Andy Sambidge reported on 25 February in Arabianbusiness that Dubai Islamic Banking reported only a small decline in net profit in 2008, AED 1.73 bn (USD 471 mn) in net profit for 2008. DIB’s total assets as of December 31, 2008, stood at AED 84.6 bn, up slightly compared to the end of the same period in 2007.

DIB’s full-year results reflected total impairment provisions of AED 521 million (including writedowns on its investment portfolio) and mark-to-market losses on equity investments of AED 277 million. The majority of these were recorded in the fourth quarter of the year, one of the primary reasons impacting profitability during the last quarter of 2008.

The Board of directors of Dubai Islamic Bank has proposed a cash dividend of 25 percent and bonus share of five percent for 2008.

Emirates NBD in healthy condition according to CFO

The debt level of Emirates NBD is small and manageable according to analysis given by its CFO, Sanjay Uppal.

USD 1.6 bn medium-term debt is maturing, USD 500 mn has been paid in January already, and the total balance sheet is UDD 76 bn. According to Sanjay Uppal there are no plans to raise capital by selling any of its assets or going for restructuring its debt and sees the exposure to real estate at comfortable levels.

Emirates NBD has an Islamic window.

Indonesia follows up on strong sukuk debut

John Aglionby reported on 23 February in the Financial Times that Indonesia is planning further after seing the first retail Sukuk being an outstanding success raising Rp 5,556bn (USD 466 mn) compared with the target of Rp 1,700 bn. The coupon rate is fixed at 12 per cent over three years and is paid monthly.

USD denominated Sukuk to retail investors and medium-term notes, the latter expected to be in the region of USD 3 bn, are still under consideration. The global sukuk and medium-term notes have been delayed after a successful international roadshow this month, pending parliamentary approval for the government’s revised budget.

Moody's negative on Qatar banks

Martin Morris reported on 23 February in Arabianbusiness that Moody's, says the fundamental credit outlook for the Qatari banking system is negative, reflecting expectations of a weakening in operating conditions.
In its new Banking System Outlook on Qatar the agency examines the likely future direction of fundamental credit conditions in the industry over the next 12 to 18 months. It does not represent a projection of rating upgrades versus downgrades.

Negative factors evaluated are the asset quality, impacted by property lending and the reduced profitability also impacted by stock market developments. The direct impact of the financial crisis has however so far been limited.

Fitch Ratings: Dubai Bond Positive For Government-Linked Corporations

Fitch Ratings released that the recent announcement of a USD 20 bn bond programme is improving the overall liquidity which will be positive for government-linked corporates facing the need to refinance maturing debt at a time when the impact of regional economic conditions, especially in the construction and property sector, are becoming increasingly negative.

Official figures put Dubai government and state-owned corporate debt at USD80 bn, of which Fitch estimates that around USD11 bn of foreign currency debt matures during 2009. Last week Borse Dubai raised USD2.5 bn in financing, and received an equity injection of USD1 bn from its shareholder, Investment Corporation of Dubai, to refinance an aggregate USD3.8 bn loan (part of the 2009 maturities).

Source: 

http://www.nasdaq.com/aspxcontent/NewsStory.aspx?cpath=20090225\ACQDJON200902250527DOWJONESDJONLINE000316.htm&&mypage=newsheadlines&title=PRESS%20RELEASE:Fitch:Dubai%20Bond%20Positive%20For%20Government-Linked%20Corps

Eiger launches Sharia compliant coffee fund

The Hedge Fund Review reported on 24 February that the Coffee trading advisor Eiger Trading Advisors has targeted a March launch for four coffee related funds. The funds aim to give investors exposure to the coffee markets through the choice of a hedge fund, a Shariah-compliant fund and two tracker funds. The funds will be domiciled in the Cayman Islands and will launch with approximately $150 million collectively.

The Shariah-compliant Eiger Green Coffee Fund will provide Islamic investors with access to coffee as an asset class. It aims for returns of around 12% a year. The company decided to launch the funds based on its understanding of the coffee industry and the growers. This, the company said, will enable it to exploit trades and generate attractive risk adjusted returns for investors. The funds will target mainly Middle Eastern investors but will not limit itself to particular investors.

The share class will be in dollars. Newedge will act as prime broker for the Coffee Alpha Fund and BNP Paribas will be the prime broker for the Green Coffee Fund. All three funds have a 2% management fee with a 20% performance fee with a high watermark.

Thomson Reuters Appoints Rushdi Siddiqui as Head of Islamic Finance

Mr. Siddiqui joined Thomson Reuters from Dow Jones, where he was Global Director for their Islamic Market Indices at Thomson Reuters he is appointed Rushdi Siddiqui to lead its Islamic Finance business.

Thomson Reuters, which has been active in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia since 1865, has strong Islamic Finance assets covering leading content, news, analytics and trading capabilities. In this newly created role, Mr. Siddiqui will be utilizing these assets and working closely with Islamic finance and banking professionals including fund managers, treasury, financial hubs, regulators, stock exchanges, central banks, Takafol (insurance) entities, Halal industry, intra-OIC (57 Muslim countries), trade, investment, as well as others to strengthen and grow this business.

Basil Moftah is Managing Director for Thomson Reuters in the Middle East and Africa.

Moody's sees Dubai bond positive for corporate ratings if unconditional

Moody's Investors Service said on Monday the Dubai's government's USD 20 bn 5-year, 4 % bond programme could support debt ratings of Dubai companies that were placed under review for a downgrade earlier this month. If there are no restrictions on how Dubai uses bond proceeds this could support Moody's ratings of Emaar, DP World, DIFC Investments, Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and the Jebel Ali Free Zone. Moody's had said it could lower its debt and Islamic bond, or sukuk, ratings for the six firms, all linked to the Dubai government, by as much as two notches each. The review is due shortly.

Restructuring mandates increasingly important for law firms

Earlier the month the law firm Ashurst announced the formation of their Islamic finance restructuring team. Now Lovells advertises to their prospective clients being a "global player in Business Restructuring and Insolvency". It seems that supply follows demand due to the ongoing crisis.

Indonesia Retail Sukuk demand above expectations

Muhamad Al Azhari & Dion Bisara reported on 24 February in The Jakarta Globe that Indonesia raised Rp 5.56 trillion ($467 million) from the sale of the country’s first retail Islamic bonds, or retail sukuk , beating the sales target due to strong demand from investors, according to the finance minister.

The government initially aimed to raise Rp 1.77 trillion through the debt paper sale, but later raised that target to Rp 3.7 trillion as demand appeared to be strengthening. A 12 % of return was offered for the bonds, higher than premium-grade bank deposit rates of about 10 percent for preferred customers.

The debt papers were sold at a par, or face value, of Rp 1 million per unit, with a minimum purchase of Rp 5 million. The sukuk has a fixed payout on the 25th of each month and matures on Feb. 25, 2012.

HSBC offers more funds for local UK Muslims

FT Adviser reported on 23 February that HSBC is making a number of Sharia-compliant funds available to UK investors for the first time by restructuring them into a single, Luxembourg-domiciled offering. The funds in the range include Global Equity Index, Global Equity, Europe Equity and Asia Pacific ex Japan Equity.

Andy Clark, managing director for UK and Mena wholesale at HSBC, recognises the demand in UK as growing and denounces the perception that Islamic finance is only applicable in the Middle East.

Conventional Middle East Investors reducing Hedge Fund exposure

According to a survey by Capintro Partners reported in the Hedge Fund Review a majority of conventional Middle East investors (55%) expect to decrease their allocation to hedge funds in 2009 while 14% expect to increase allocations and 31% plan no change in their allocation.

The top three regions investors favour in 2009 included emerging markets (25%), the US (24%) and Asia, excluding Japan (22%).

Over half (54%) said they use structured products regularly or periodically. Of those who use them, the majority (57%) said they made use of capital guarantee products while under a quarter (23%) said capital/risk management requirements were the main use with only 11% giving leverage as the main usage.

Text based on: http://www.hedgefundsreview.com/public/showPage.html?page=841318

Full study under linked under source.

Sukuk market and prospects, another Sukuk fund in the pipeline?

According to a report of Global Investment House more than 100 Sukuk equivalent to more than USD 38 bn are awaiting issuance if markets recover.

DIB Capital, a 100 % subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank, sees the long term prospect as strong for the Sukuk market according to Nadeem Lodhi, head of capital markets and syndications. Also they are planning to launch a Sukuk fund.

Hong Kong goes forward with Islamic finance

Mushtak Parker writes in Arab News on 23 February that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government is finalizing new tax laws which would facilitate the introduction of Islamic finance on a par with equivalent conventional products, and there is a strong possibility that the Hong Kong Airport Authority (HKAA) will issue the debut quasi-sovereign Sukuk from the island enclave during 2009.

However, Hong Kong is concerned about the effect on Islamic finance of the credit crunch and the global financial crisis, since no economy, including those in the Middle East and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, have gone untouched. Thus it seems unavoidable that Islamic finance will slow its pace of development in the near term, "alongside growing downside risks in the global financial scene."

Al-Salam Bank Bahrain in early merger talks with Bahrain Saudi Bank

The two institutions are in the early stages exploring the possibility of a business combination through a share exchange with ASBB issuing shares to BSB shareholders. The combination is subject to approvals by the Boards and shareholders of both the institutions and regulators in Bahrain and Dubai it was revealed.

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