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New Islamic Bank in Djibouti

AllAfrica reported on 27 December 2008 about the openining of Salam African Bank collaborated by Somali and Djibouti businessmen and openend by Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh.

Mohamed Yusuf Ahmed Allore is said to be one of the managers.

Blue Orchard: Middle East next growth area for micro finance

Shveta Pathak reported in Business 24/7 on 30 December about the opportunity of micro finance in the Middle East interviewing Jack Lowe, President of BlueOrchard, USA, a Swiss micro finance company.

Jack Lowe, President of BlueOrchard, USA, sees the stable returns and low volatility offered by micro finance as key benefits making it a preferred asset class. The stable returns and low volatility are achieved because micro finance is closely linked to real economy, the society and has the advantage of managing the current situation better.

With the UAE Ministry of Economy having been assigned the task of launching a federal strategy to develop a programme to support and finance small start-ups in the UAE, micro finance institutions are hopeful of tapping the market Lowe told Emirates Business in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts from the interview: http://www.business24-7.ae/articles/2008/12/pages/12302008_f5a31399c6914...

GLOBAL CHALLENGE: Gulf investors are being sought to fund USD 100 mn contests

Richard Agnew wrote on Arabian Business on 29 December about the Global Challenge: Gulf investors are being sought to fund USD 100 mn contests to tackle world changing breakthroughs in fields such as space exploration and life sciences. Peter Diamandis is chairman of the US-based X-Prize Foundation, which manages on behalf of the investors the contest.

Launched in 1996, the X-Prize Foundation is credited with helping to kickstart the commercial space industry through the Ansari X-Prize — a USD 10 mn competition won by the Paul Allen-backed SpaceShipOne vehicle in 2004. Large prices should change the way people think, from questioning the feasibility to discussing the delivery. Future contest may focus on mapping the ocean floor, boosting food production, and for example a person who is severely handicapped from spinal cord injuries could be given the ability to regain their functionality.

http://www.xprize.org/

Sixth International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition in Dubai

The UAE is hosting the sixth International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition - DIHAD 2009 from 7th - 9th of April 2009 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Dubai. It is organised by Index Holding with the offical support of the United Nations and the UAE Red Crescent Society. The theme of the event is "Empowering Communities: From Disaster to Development". Specialised sessions are offered:

- Building Community Resilience and Capacity for Disaster Preparedness and Response
- Climate Change and the Global Food Crisis: How can Communities prepare and respond.
- Case Studies of Mitigation, Preparedness and Response to Disasters and other emergencies at the Community Level Urban and Rural Environments.
- Technologies, partnerships and approaches to support communities to prepare and respond to Disasters and direct their development.
- Recovery from Disasters and Sustainable Development -Community Mobilization, and Community Empowerment and Development through Micro-Credit: Global Experience.

Reuters: Japan investors interested in Islamic products

Reuters reported on 30 December that Japanese investors have expressed interest in developing Islamic capital market products, according to a local newspaper quoting Aseambankers Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Rashdan Mohammed Yusof. No company names were disclosed in the interview, however Aseambankers, the investment bankers of Maybank Group plans to develop the Sukuk market in Japan.

Shariah compliant green fund launched

Hedge Fund Review reported on 22 December about the Falcon Fund launched by Da Vinci Invest of Zurich, aiming to invest in the carbon markets and forestry.

The fund will actively trade the carbon markets on a short-term basis and invest in forestry for the long term. Da Vinci Invest expects this strategy provide consistent value growth, diversification and an environmental benefit. Rainforest Invest, Forest Finance and Miller Forest will source opportunities in Panama, Costa Rica and Paraguay.

Only land formerly used for agricultural will be planted. No rainforest will be cut to farm the plantations. The Da Vinci Green Falcon Fund will charge a 2% management fee and a 20% incentive fee.

Da Vinci Invest, incorporated in 2004 as a UK company, is based in Zug.

Uganda: Global Trust Bank to introduce Sharia banking

UGPulse.com reported on 18 December that Global Trust Bank considers to introduce Sharia banking. Global Trust Bank was recently created and has its headquarters in Nigeria.

Richard Byarugaba is the Managing Director and told journalists that the bank is going to carry out a survey in the Ugandan market to see whether Ugandans need and are ready for such a product of sharia banking.

Japan moves carefully toward Islamic finance

Manabu Hara reported on 12 December in Asahi Newspaper that the Japanese Government has taking a step more to introduce Islamic finance. Earlier this month, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) amended financial regulations to let bank subsidiaries handle Islamic finance operations. But still Murabaha transactions are subject to tax issues.

Zurich launches takaful venture

Switzerland-based Zurich Financial Services Group has established a joint Islamic insurance venture with Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company (ADNTC). The joint venture, called Zurich Takaful Company Limited, will be based in Dubai at Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) and will deal with family takaful businesses across the Middle East. It is 51% owned by Zurich and 49% owned by ADNTC. Zurich’s initial focus will be establishing its DIFC office as a regional hub, which will then act as a springboard for future growth in the region.

Sukuk Trends

Mohammed Abbas and John Irish, reported on Gulf News (Reuters) on 9 March about the Sukuk market tendencies driven by sellers issuing in local currencies at low rates. The fallen LIBOR rates due to Federal Reserve policy are above off-setting for the increased margins asked for credit clients.

Local currencies are in favour as long as speculation is around about reevaluation of the dollar peg - this also limits the foreign demand for Sukuk and exposure to Gulf credit markets. Local currency Sukuk are relying on the GCC internal demand for such paper.

Source: http://archive.gulfnews.com/business/money/10212004.html

Polaris Investment Trust Plans to Issue Taiwan Islam ETF

Philip Liu CENS.com reported on 2 April that it plans to roll out Islam ETF in the second quarter this year.

The firm is also in talks with Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) for licensing of its Taiwan Islam Index for use in issuing the Islam ETF in Abu Dhabi. The MSCI Taiwan Islam Index consists of 60 constituent stocks, selected from the over 120 constituent stocks of MSCI Taiwan Stock Index, whose operations conforms to the tenets of Islam.

Liu Tsung-sheng is president of Polaris Investment Trust.

Source: http://news.cens.com/cens/html/en/news/news_inner_22868.html

USD 158 mn AirAsia sukuk issue approved

Trade Arabia reported on 28 April that the RM 500 mn Sukuk issues is approved by the market regulator.

Bank Islam Malaysia and Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) are the joint principal advisers, lead arrangers and lead managers for the issue.

Kuwait Finance House shall be the guarantor for the sukuk programme. Malaysian Rating Corp has assigned a long-term rating of AA+(bg) for the issue.

Source: http://www.tradearabia.com/news/newsdetails.asp?Sn=CM&artid=142568

SABIC new Sukuk issue received approval by regulator

Gulf Base cited Reuters that Saudi SABIC received regulatory clearance for its planned SAR 5 bn Sukuk sale. The approval was posted on the Saudi bourse website. SABIC is the worlds biggest chemicals firm by market value.

Source: http://www.gulfbase.com/site/interface/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?n=61385

Dar eyes UK Islamic banking unit

Arabian Business reported on 28 April that Investment Dar its proposed British bank unit 'Dar Capital' might start with capital of up to GBP 100 mn. A project study should be finished by year-end.

Chairman of Investment Dar is Adnan Al-Musallam.

Source: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/517695-dar-eyes-uk-bank-with-up-to-100-ml...

Banks appointed for Pakistani Sukuk

The Guardian reported on 25 April that Pakistan appointed advisers for first domestic Sukuk, being Dubai Islamic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan as Managers. The estimated size of the Sukuk might be 20 bn Pakistani rupees.

Ashfaque Hasan Khan is special secretary at the Finance Ministry.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/feedarticle?id=7484821

Al Khaliji bank in Qatar gets more active in Islamic finance

Pratap John in Gulf Times reported on 24 April that Al Khaliji bank will be concluding more Shariah-based transactions including co-arranging a Sukuk in Qatar after obtaining the Qatar Central Bank’s approval for an Islamic branch. The bank plans to open branches successively.

Al Khaliji chief executive officer is David Proctor.

Source: http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=214610...

Jordan Islamic Bank well rated and positioned

Arab News reported 28 April about Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB), being one of the oldest establishments along with Dubai Islamic Bank and Kuwait Finance House. Fitch Ratings end March 2008 assigned a 'BB-' foreign currency long-term issuer default rating (IDR) and a 'B' foreign currency short-term IDR to JIB with a long-term stable outlook.

JIB is a subsidiary of the Al-Baraka Banking Group (ABG), which is incorporated in Bahrain and is the restructured holding company of the financial services division of Jeddah-based Dallah Al-Baraka Group (DAG) headed by Saleh Kamel.

Musa Shihadeh is the general manager of JIB.

Source: http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093194499

Arab Bank lists funds on the Cayman Island Exchange

CPI Financial reported on 22 April that Arab Bank Fund Managers (Guernsey), a subsidiary of Arab Bank lists nine investment funds on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange. The IIAB Sukuk and Murabaha MENA Fund and the IIAB MENA Feeder Fund, are Shari’ah compliant funds and are both part of International Islamic Arab Bank Protected Cell Companies (IIAB PCC). The investment adviser for these funds is AB Invest in Jordan.

All of the funds are dollar denominated and open-ended, with monthly valuation and dealing.

The Guernsey administrator for all the funds is Legis Fund Services.

Source: http://www.cpifinancial.net/v2/News.aspx?v=1&aid=203&sec=Wealth%20Manage...

Millennium Private Equity first close

Finalternatives reported on 22 April that Millennium Private Equity has held a first close on its Global Energy Fund, which has raised USD 200 mn, and its Telecoms, Media & Technology Fund at USD 150 mn. Both are targeting USD 1 bn in equity. The funds shall have a tenor of 7 years, targeting 20 % IRR and investing between USD 20 to 100 mn per transaction.

Sponsors of the funds include Dubai Islamic Bank, United Gulf Bank, the Bahrain-based investment banking arm of the KIPCO Group of Kuwait, and the Saudi Arabian Islamic Development Bank, each conbtributing USD 50 mn to each fund, as well as Kuwait Finance House, which invests USD 50 mn into in the Global Energy Fund.

Keba Keinde is chief executive of Millennium Finance Corporation and chairman of Millennium Private Equity. Millennium Private Equity, a subsidiary of Millennium Finance Corp., is based at the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Source: http://www.finalternatives.com/node/4155

CIMB to expand Islamic banking in Middle East

The Star Malaysia reported on 22 April that CIMB group intends to expand its Islamic banking business in Dubai and Saudi Arabia via acquisitions.

The group via Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd recently acquired a 19.99% stake in China-based Bank of Yingkou Co Ltd.

CIMB group chief executive is Datuk Nazir Razak.

Source: http://biz.thestar.com.my/services/printerfriendly.asp?file=/2008/4/22/b...

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