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First Islamic Bank in Sri Lanka

The Amana Group was recently given a Letter of Provisional Approval by the Central Bank (CB) to establish a licensed commercial bank named Amana Bank Ltd., among the conditions is to raise a minimum capital requirement of Rs 2.5 bn.

Dubai Islamic Bank sets up JV in Jordan this year

Dubai Islamic Bank is set to implement this year its joint-venture with Jordan Dubai Capital and Dubai International Capital to invest in Industrial Development Bank and convert it to the Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank.

President of IDB urges G-20 to assess Islamic finance and consider observer status

"The opportunities offered by Islamic finance in promoting global financial stability and financial inclusion are worth assessment by the leadership of the G-20 countries," said Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank President Ahmed Mohamed Ali, reported Mushtak Parker in the Arab News.

The President told an Islamic Financial Architecture Colloquium hosted yesterday by Lord Mayor of the City of London Ian Luder at his official headquarters that it is time that the wider world should consider mainstreaming Islamic financial services. And the best way to do this is to accord the relevant Islamic finance stakeholders "observer status" within the framework of the G-20 and the expanded Financial Stability Forum of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

S&P: Nigerian Outlook Revised To Negative As Falling Oil Receipts Test Government's Institutional Capacity; Ratings Affirmed

Press Release

LONDON (Standard & Poor's) March 27, 2009--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today said it had revised its outlook on the Federal Republic of Nigeria to negative from stable. At the same time, the 'BB-' foreign currency and 'BB' local currency long-term sovereign credit ratings were affirmed. The 'B' foreign and local currency short-term ratings and the 'ngAA+' national scale ratings were also affirmed. The Transfer & Convertibility Assessment on Nigeria remains 'BB-'.

"The institutional policy response to the global economic downturn and the consequent sharp fall in the price of oil, on which Nigeria is overwhelmingly reliant, motivated our revision of the ratings outlook," Standard & Poor's credit analyst Ben Faulks said. "We believe the adverse terms of trade shock will hurt Nigeria's credit profile both on the fiscal and external side."

Australia: The Muslim Community Co-operative (Australia) awarded license - demutualisation ahead

The Muslim Community Co-operative (Australia) (MCCA) has recently received an Australian financial services licence from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). It is necessary for the MCCA to set up its Managed Investment Scheme, the ‘MCCA Islamic Finance Investment Fund’, by which the MCCA plans to launch its Shari’ah-compliant home finance products.

The MCCA has until now been a mutually-owned co-operative. The plan for the next three years is to wind down the co-operative outfit and sell its assets to the new fund. And the intended launch date will either be 1st May or 1st July 2009.

Chaaban Omran is the managing director of the MCCA

Kyrgyzstan introduces Islamic banking legislation

The country’s parliament has approved legislation enabling all commercial banks in Kyrgyzstan to operate according to Shari’ah principles. National Bank of Kyrgyzstan will be responsible for issuing licences to Shari’ah-compliant financial institutions, as well as supervising and regulating their activity.

AAOIFI to certify more IT vendors

New Horizon reported that other IT vendors now think about certification by the Accounting and Auditing Organisation of Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and following the example of Path Solutions.

Malaysian Rating Corp. plans to offer Sharia Ratings

Malaysian Rating Corp. starts offering from July 2009 onwards services to rate the degree of Sharia compliance of Islamic financial institutions. The audit will review the risk management culture and frequence of Sharia meetings aside from management skills.

The Agency targets fund managers, insurers and banks in Malaysia first before it plans expansion to South-East Asia.

Mohd Razlan Mohamed is the CEO of the Malaysian Rating Corp.

Unicorn Malaysia aims to service demand among SMEs

Unicorn International Islamic Bank Malaysia Bhd, aims to achieve transactions totalling USD 400 mn to USD 500 mn this year as the demand for medium-sized issuance, especially sukuk and cross-border transactions from small and medium enterprises, continued to be strong with a ticket size of USD 50 to 100. A focus would be on bridging and construction financing, as well as placement of equities and funds.

Unicorn has four business lines – treasury, corporate banking, investment banking, and strategic acquisitions/direct investment.

No stand alone Islamic banks in Morocco to be licensed

In spite of several applications Bank Al Maghrib, the central bank of Morocco, did not issue a stand alone Islamic banking license. The reasons: too much stress for the Moroccan market and the problem of taxation on certain Islamic products. However, since their permission on the market, the total value of Islamic finance products is around DH 200 mn.

Unicorn Malaysia announces maiden net profit

Unicorn International Islamic Bank Malaysia Berhad has reported a net profit of MYR 812,546 (USD 223,993) for 2008, its first full year of operation with an international Islamic bank license awarded under the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) initiative. Unicorn Malaysia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bahrain-based Unicorn Investment Bank.

The bank, with the BNM’s approval, has also increased its paid-up capital via a non-renounceable rights issue. As of year-end 2008, the Bank’s paid-up capital stood at MYR 71.9 million (USD 19.8 mn), versus a MIFC minimum capital requirement of MYR 10 million (USD 2.7 mn)

Unicorn Malaysia has four business lines: Treasury, Corporate Banking, Investment Banking and Strategic Acquisitions/Direct Investment.

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i-VCAP Receives Securities Commission approval to be a full-fledged Islamic Fund Management Company

i-VCAP Management Sdn Bhd announced it has received approval from the Securities Commission to operate as an Islamic fund management company. The firm is doing Islamic fund management under the general licence for some time.

Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin is the CEO.

Amanie Business Solutions LLC. launches its Shariah compliant stocks screening service

Amanie Business Solutions LLC. officially launched its web integrated Shariah stock screening service, the service will target new entrants into the Islamic fund management industry.

The web delivery platform of Amanie Screening can be accessed through http://www.amaniescreening.com . Investors and fund managers will be able to view the details and features of the Shariah Stock Screening service.

Amanie is a Shariah advisory and education company seeking to serve the global Islamic finance community.

Ithmaar Bank outlines 2008 achievements

Ithmaar outlines 2008 achievements and concludes that due to good diversification the global crisis has been well mastered. Ithmaar reported USD 85.2 mn in consolidated profits for 2008.

Ithmaar Bank, a Bahrain-based investment bank with global reach, heads a regional banking and financial services group that comprises more than 20 subsidiaries, associates and joint ventures. Their combined activities, covering investment, private, retail, and commercial banking, private equity, Islamic insurance and assurance, equipment leasing, and real estate development, form a unique 360 degrees value chain that embraces the entire spectrum of banking and financial services.

Michael P. Lee is CEO of Ithmaar Bank.

In February 2009, following a meeting of the Bank’s Board of Directors, Ithmaar reported $85.2 million in consolidated profits for 2008. Of these profits, $22.2 million are attributable to the Bank’s shareholders. Ithmaar also reported significant growth in both its total assets and its funds under management, and said its balance sheet remains strong, with liquid assets at $1.3 billion, representing around 23 percent of its total assets.

Thailand Sukuk planned

The Islamic Bank of Thailand (IBT) plans to rise between USD 70 mn to USD 200 mn via Sukuk in Malaysia and Middle East countries by this year. Malaysia's second largest banking group CIMB, and its newly acquired BankThai, had approached the IBT to launch the Sukuk bond in Malaysia.

Abu Dhabi Investment House Strategic Direction

Abu Dhabi Investment House shifted its direction in 2008 towards the 'real economy', which includes health, agriculture, communications and clean energy sectors. The company increasingly changed its strategy in 2005, 2006 and 2007 from traditional investment, real estate and financial markets methods included the 'Vision 3' alliance between Abu Dhabi Investment House, Gulf Finance House and Ithmaar Bank.

The goal of the alliance is to benefit from the combined expertise in the identification of investment opportunities within the hospitality, infrastructure and agricultural sectors, including InfraCapital, the GGC's first Islamic investment bank focused on infrastructure and AgriCap, a fund given over to the development of numerous agricultural projects. The AED 400 mn Al Joud fund, the new GCC listed equities fund, performed very well.

Until now, the company did not venture into America or European markets and is considering capitalising on distressed assets in these markets.

Indonesia global sukuk to be backed by USD 650 mn assets

Indonesia's finance ministry plans to sell its first global sharia-compliant bond issue, or sukuk, before June, backed by 7.5 trillion rupiah (USD 650 mn) worth of assets. The sukuk will be issued according to the ijara, or lease-based, principle.

2nd World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists: Fostering Partnerships

PRESS RELEASE

Conventional to Strategic: A New Paradigm in Giving

March 22-23, 2009 • Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi, UAE: The 2nd World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP) concluded today after several key developments had been achieved that indicate an evolution in Muslim giving. The WCMP is a high-level network of donors and foundations established to promote informed and effective giving. The annual Congress itself is a unique event which brings together a diverse set of participants, with the hope that enhanced cooperation between different philanthropies through strategic partnerships will add profound value to address global challenges that affect both humanity and the environment.

Dr. Tariq Cheema, the founder of the WCMP, affirms that the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP)' brings together leaders who understand the risks and opportunities they have are common as global citizens, and therefore realize that collaboration across the lines of faith and race is a necessity and not merely a choice'.

Developments

Qatar First Investment Bank launched

Joyce C Abaño reported on 25th March that the Shariah-compliant Qatar First Investment Bank (QFIB) celebrated its official launching yesterday during an exclusive ceremony at the Museum of Islamic Art. The event was graced by former US president Bill Clinton, who spoke about the challenges of globalisation and growing interdependence, and the need to identify common goals and values worldwide. The bank has an authrised capital of QR 3.6 bn (USD 1 bn).

The bank was awarded a licence by the Qatar Financial Centre in September 2008. Mike de Graffenried is the CEO of QFIB.

Bahrain finalising USD 500 mn Sukuk

Bahrain is finalising a USD 500 mn Sukuk, said Central Bank of Bahrain Governer Rasheed Al Maraj. The sukuk, would consist of a USD 250 mn refinancing for an existing sukuk that matures in June, and a new USD 250 mn issue, both scheduled to be issued by the end of May.

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