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Dubai`s credit situation

Rachel Ziemba analysis the credit situation of Dubai on 17 February on RGEmonitor observing that in recent weeks CDS spreads on the debt of Dubai’s largest State-linked vehicles like Dubai Holding etc shot up dramatically after Abu Dhabi announced a unilateral recapitalization of its banks. The cost to buy prrotection on the 1 year bond has doubled since late January and now stands at 1073bps. This is deemed linked to the previous market opinion that Abu Dhabi would support Dubai, while the recent step to just re-capitalise their own banks caused some doubts. The property bust in Dubai goes on with severe consequences.

The full report shows an excellent overall summary of the situation. It can be accessed via the link "source" below.

India: Taurus Asset Management launches Islamic fund

India's Taurus Asset Management will launch a sharia-compliant equity fund monitored by India's Taqwaa Advisory and Shariah Investment Solutions, an independent Sharia board, to monitor its investments.

UK working to offer sukuk in sterling

Rachna Uppal reported on 16 February that the UK Sterling Sukuk will be offered in the foreseeable future. There is work ongoing on the issue how t o treat the coupon of the Sukuk and put it on par with bonds.

Indonesia plans regular domestic Sukuk with maturity of 5 years

Indonesia plans to issue regular domestic Sukuk Al Ijara with a maturity of 5 years or more according to the finance ministry. The currency is not yet decided.

Islamic International Foundation for Economics & Finance, KSA aims to establish new standardising body

Islamic International Foundation for Economics & Finance in Saudi-Arabia aims to set up a committee of senior Islamic scholars in the kingdom by 2010 to help standardise Islamic banking edicts in Saudi-Arabia. The foundation is in the early talks with Sharia scholars and hoped to “institutionalise” Islamic rulings within a year, according to Mr Al-Zamil.

Yousef Abdullah al-Zamil is the foundation`s assistant secretary general.

Rumour: Dubai Islamic Investment Group may sell stake in Maybank

Malaysia's top lender, Maybank, said it was not in talks to buy Dubai Islamic Investment Group's stake in Bank Islam, a deal that would have created the largest sharia compliant bank in the Asia-Pacific region. Dubai Islamic Investment Group, which is part of Dubai Group, was interested in selling its 40 percent stake in unlisted Bank Islam to Maybank Islamic, the banking sources added. Approached to comment on whether it was selling its stake, Dubai Group said that it "is a long-term strategic investor" in Bank Islam.

Borse Dubai may only get half the finance it seeks

Haris Anwar reported on 17 February on Bloomberg that Borse Dubai Ltd. may get half of the USD 2.5 bn it sought to refinance a one-year loan used for the purchase of Swedish exchange operator OMX AB as lenders tighten credit for the emirate amid concern over its ability to repay. The facilty has to pay according bankers 325 basis points over the LIBOR, with an additional 125 basis-point fee and 75 basis-point margin if the lenders allow for a one-year extension. HSBC Holdings Plc is leading the syndication for Borse Dubai. The financing will have a portion compliant with Islamic restrictions.

EONCAP Islamic Bank Bhd is eyeing 8 % growth in financing

EONCAP Islamic Bank Bhd is eyeing an 8 % growth in financing despite the economic slowdown. The bank has deposits and financing worth RM 4.3 bn and RM 4.8 bn respectively.

Gulf Finance House (GFH) has approved a cash dividend of USD 52.56 mn

Gulf Finance House (GFH) has approved a cash dividend of USD 52.56 mn for last year. This is equivalent to 20 % of the par value of the paid-up capital. In addition a further 20 % will be paid in the form of bonus shares. This has been driven by strong end of year profits of USD 291mn.

University Bank Receives the American Bankers Association's Community Bank Award for 2009

University Bank was nationally acknowledged by the American Bankers Association for its innovative programs to increase homeownership opportunities at the American Bankers Association's National Conference for Community Bankers in Phoenix, Ariz. on Feb. 17.

The selection committee lauded University Bank for its innovative programs such as home financings for Muslim customers. Muslims are much less likely to be homeowners on average due to religious prohibitions on the payment or receipt of interest. University Bank designed a program to meet these needs, which has so far resulted in over USD 50 mn of financings for the purchase of homes by Muslim customers of the bank.

Floatation of Bank Mellat faces difficult market environment

Fredrik Dahl and Parisa Hafezi reported on 18 February in Forbes about the floatation of a 5 % stake in Bank Mellat, Iran. Market environment was not supportive with a fall of 30 % of share prices since last August.

A Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) official said investors bought 340 million, or around 52 percent, of the 655 million Bank Mellat shares on offer, and suggested the price had been set too high in view of the difficult market conditions.

Iran's economy is dominated by the state but the government has been seeking to speed up privatisations after the constitution was changed to encourage the sale of assets.

Malaysia: BNP Paribas Islamic targets USD 500 mn this year

Ellina Badri & Racheal Lee Mei Nyee reported on 16 February that BNP Paribas Islamic targets USD 500 mn assets this year.

Angelia Chin-Sharpe is BNP Paribas Investment Partners Malaysia and Brunei country head. Chin-Sharpe said that its current global assets under management and advisory for the Islamic business division stood at USD 500 mn. It intended to grow this to USD 2.5 bn in the next two years and is keen to work with takaful companies to provide them with investment solutions. Further BNP is planning an ETF.

Malaysia: Nomura Islamic Asset Management - strategy

Racheal Lee Mei Nyee reported on 16 February in The Edge Daily, that Nomura Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd plans to launch its first product by the second half of this year for the Malaysian market before venturing into the Gulf and other Asian regions, its managing director Toru Nakano said.

The company had set a rather conservative target of USD 1 bn (RM3.6 billion) worth of funds under management within five years. The conventional division currently manages more than USD 1 bn of funds, which are invested both locally and overseas. The Nomura Group had had a presence in the Middle East for 35 years, it was yet to be familiar with Islamic finance and asset management.

Malaysia: Aberdeen Islamic Asset Management - strategy

Racheal Lee Mei Nyee reported on 16 February in The Edge Daily, that Aberdeen Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd aims with the new licence to approach retail investors and launch funds, which it could not do under the conventional licence. The company is seeking seed funding from institutional investors first and look at retail funds only later.

Gerald Ambrose is managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management Sdn Bhd.

Iran is privatizing banks

Iran plans to offer 5 % of Bank Mellat to private investors to study the demand and interest from buyers. Bank Mellat, Iran's second-largest bank after state-owned Bank Melli, is estimated to have a share of around 15 % of the country's banking industry.

It is said two other state banks - Tejarat and Saderat - were next in line to be partly sold off.

Industrial Development Bank becomes Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) announced the official re-launch of Jordan-based Industrial Development Bank (IDB) following the completion of a private placement of 26 million shares of IDB, valued at USD 100 mn. As part of the re-launch, IDB has been transformed into an Islamic financing institution to be known as Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank (JDIB).

The parties involved in the private placement transaction include Jordan Dubai Financial (JD Financial), the investment arm of Jordan Dubai Capital, DIB and Dubai International Capital. The private placement was valued at JOD 2.750 per share, based on the pricing equation adopted by the bank's Shareholders General Assembly, wherein the strategic partner, Mesc Investment, covered the entire placement.

Fixed Income market seen as important to Gulf growth

Sean Davidson wrote on 13 February in Business 24/7 about the importance of an active sovereign bond market to strengthen Gulf monetary policies allowing for an integrated market for local currency government bonds where the central, local and forweign banks, individuals and other institutional investors can participate - a matter which plenty of economists agree to.

The UAE government has indicated plans to issue conventional bonds and sukuk in the near future with maturities of up to 30 years.

S&P Placed Kuwaiti Banks On CreditWatch Negative On Large Exposure To Investment Companies

Press Release

Various Kuwaiti Banks Placed On CreditWatch Negative On Large Exposure To Investment Companies

LONDON (Standard & Poor's) Feb. 16, 2009--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it placed its 'A-' long-term counterparty credit ratings on Kuwait Finance House and Commercial Bank of Kuwait on CreditWatch with negative implications. At the same time, the 'A-2' short-term counterparty credit ratings on these banks were affirmed. Furthermore, Standard & Poor's placed its 'BBB+/A-2' long- and short-term counterparty credit ratings on Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait and Burgan Bank on CreditWatch with negative implications. At the same time, Standard & Poor's commented on its CreditWatch placement of Kuwait-based Gulf Bank. The 'A-/A-2' long- and short-term counterparty credit ratings on Gulf Bank remain on CreditWatch with negative implications, where they had been placed on Oct. 27, 2008.

Britain's First Islamic Motor Insurance

Salaam Halal Insurance, Britain's first Shari`ah-compliant insurer, was launched last July and price-comparison websites show a great demand and competitiveness.

Islamic Securitization - The Right Way Forward?

Heiko Hesse, Andreas Jobst and Juan A. Sole published on RGEmonitor on 13 February an analysis regarding Islamic Securitization and the grown interest for Islamic finance during the financial crisis.

Islamic finance is driven by the general precept of extending religious doctrine in the shari’ah to financial agreements and transactions. Predatory lending, deteriorating underwriting standards, and a series of incentive problems between originators, arrangers, and sponsors, of which all have infested the conventional securitization process, belie fundamental Islamic principles.

The article linked in the source relates the characteristics of this form of securitization to calls for enhanced disclosure and standardization, ratings agency reforms, and better transparency of origination and underwriting practices in conventional structured finance. In particular, it assesses the potential of conflicts of interest (which became apparent in the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis) to contaminate the integrity of the securitization process if it were conducted in compliance with shari’ah principles.

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