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The Islamic Bank of Asia aims for expansion

The Islamic Bank of Asia, majority owned by DBS is looking for acquisition opportunities in Malaysia and Indonesia, although it is also keen on Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait. The Islamic Bank of Asia currently focuses on commercial banking, corporate finance, capital market and wealth management services. The step towards Malaysia and Indonesia targets the retail markets.

Kuwait Finance House Malaysia more than doubles paid up capital

Kuwait Finance House Malaysia said last Friday it has received a USD 300 mn capital injection from its parent, increasing the paid-up capital to USD 500 mn.

Qatar International Islamic Company seeks stake in Al Jisr Takaful Company

The Qatar Islamic Insurance Company (QIIC) hopes to buy half-a-million shares of Al Jisr Takaful Company which is being set up as a joint venture between Qatari and Bahraini investors. The paid-up capital of the proposed Islamic insurer will be QR 250 mn and some 30 per cent of its equity will be divided equally between Qatari and Bahraini owners through a public offer.

The owners are national insurance firms and major institutions from the two countries. Qatar Foundation as well as the civil and military pension funds in Qatar are tipped to own around 40 % of the proposed company’s equity. The remaining 60 % of the equity will be offered to the Qatari and Bahraini public (citizens) through an initial public offering (IPO).

Qatar Islamic Bank announces profit growth

Mohamed Salem reported in The Peninsula that Qatar Islamic Bank released a net profit to QR 1.64 bn, representing a 30.8 % growth over 2007. The profit in 2007 was QR1.25bn. The bank also announced it plans to launch a rights issue to raise its capital by 10 %.

PLUS plans RM 1 bn Sukuk sales to pay debt, fund projects

PLUS Expressways Bhd, Malaysia’s largest toll-road operator, plans to sell RM 1 bn, 5-year Sukuk to help repay maturing debt and finance expansion projects. Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd and CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd supports the sale of the Sukuk. The company aims to raise RM 350 mn in the coming months to refinance debt maturing in June and to raise another RM 200 mn in the second half of the year to fund a road project in Indonesia.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank bolsters Tier 1 capital with government funds

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) is issuing a Tier 1 capital Sukuk to the government of Abu Dhabi, raising AED 2 bn (USD 545 mn). The issuance of the Sukuk was approved by ADIB's board of directors on 3 February 2009, and will be subject to obtaining shareholder approval. The Sukuk will pay an expected return at a rate of 6 % per annum, payable semi-annually in arrears from (and including) the issue date for a period of 5 years, and thereafter at a rate, reset and payable semi-annually in arrears, reflecting the initial margin above the then prevailing six month Emirates Interbank Offered Rate.

Tirad Mahmoudis the Chief Executive Officer of ADIB.

Noor Islamic the UAE's top lead arranger in 2008

Noor Islamic Bank topped the 2008 Bloomberg list of leading Sharia’ah compliant Lead Arrangers in the UAE and ranked third on the list of leading Islamic finance Book Runners in the country in its first year of operation.

Hussain Al Qemzi is the CEO of Noor Islamic Bank.

Law firm Ashurst announces formation of Islamic finance restructuring team

Ashurst has formed a multidiscipline team of lawyers from across its global network to assist clients with Islamic finance restructuring and Sharia compliant distressed financings. This comes as a result of increasing client demand for assistance with Sharia compliant transactions and investments that require restructuring due to current market conditions.

UAE Cabinet appoints Steering Committee to Review, Develop Strategies for Amlak, Tamweel

UAE Cabinet appoints Steering Committee to Review, Develop Strategies for Amlak, Tamweel. The high-level Committee, headed by H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, brings together experts from across ministries and regulatory bodies. The move highlights the federal government's support to the UAE economy and strengthening of its financial institutions. The Committee will draw up a comprehensive report of Amlak's and Tamweel's performances under the changed economic environment and present its recommendations on the way forward to the government by the end of February.

Central Bank of Bahrain issues Legal and General two licenses

The Central Bank of Bahrain has granted licenses to Legal and General Gulf and Legal and General Gulf Takaful. The two companies will be established with total paid up capital of BD 10 mn which will be contributed equally by British Insurer Legal & General Group Plc. (LGEN.L) and Ahli United Bank B.S.C. (AUBB.BH).

Asian Finance Bank may halve the size of its planned aviation fund

Loh Li Lian reported on 4 February on Reuters that Malaysian Asian Finance Bank may halve the size of its planned aviation fund to RM 500 mn (USD 138.2 mn) according to Mohamed Azahari Kamil, the chief executive officer of the bank.

Saudi Credit Bureau (SIMAH) and Standard & Poor's launched National Data Pooling Project (NDPP)

Joint Press Release

Riyadh ? London, February 2 2009

Saudi Credit Bureau (SIMAH) and Standard & Poor's, the leading provider of financial market intelligence, independent ratings, indices, investment research and data across the Middle East?s credit risks launched today the National Data Pooling Project (NDPP) and signed a contract in Riyadh. SIMAH was represented by its General Manager Mr. Nabil Abdullah Al-Mubarak, Standard & Poor?s by Mr. David Pearce, Managing Director of McGraw-Hill International (UK) Ltd and Mr. Bernard O?Sullivan, Managing Director and Head of Standard & Poor?s Risk Solutions in Europe, Middle East & Africa.

In this context, Nabil Al-Mubarak stated that the project comes as the final step in the framework of specialized projects for measuring credit risks, which would enable all participating member banks to fulfill all requirements of Basel II capital adequacy issued in 2005, referring to the fact that the Kingdom has already been implementing Basel II Capital Standards since 2006, and welcoming at the same time the strategic relationship with Standard & Poor's.

Thailand SET plans to launch shariah 50 index

Siriporn Chanjindamanee reported in The Nation on 3 February that the Stock Exchange of Thailand is planning to launch a Shariah 50 index early next quarter before going on a roadshow to the Middle East in the second half. The index would combine 50 listed stocks, making up 47 per cent of the SET's market capitalisation, that are Sharia tolerated.

According to Santi Kiranand, head of market development, have SET and FTSE jointly developed the Shariah index while the selection of the 50 firms was performed by the Yasaar.

The SET also plans to launch a social responsibility index. It is selecting foreign experts, including FTSE, to help develop the index by the third quarter.

Global, Investment Dar cut salaries

Global Investment House laid off around 40 employees, and reduced salaries by up to 20 %. Investment Dar has cut salaries by 5 to 20 % but said it had no plans to lay off staff.

Moody`s may downgrade Dubai companies and related Sukuk

Moody's may downgrade its debt and Sukuk ratings of six Dubai companies, including DP World and Emaar Properties by as much as two notches each following a review in the coming weeks.

In addition to Emaar and DP World, Moody's said it was reviewing ratings of DIFC Investments, Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA).

Gulf Finance House and others to develop resort in Morocco

Morocco has signed a letter of intent with Itmar developpement, Abou Dhabi Investment and Gulf Finance house to develop a USD 1.8 bn, 270 hectar large resort in Essaouria, Morocco at Davos.

Ajman Bank officially launched

Ajman Bank is officially launched as the Emirate of Ajman`s first Islamic commercial bank. The bank will serve the community and emphasize social corporate responsibility.

Yousif Khalaf is the CEO of Ajman Bank.

Emirates NBD launches Sukuk fund

Emirates NBD has launched a fund to take advantage of the high yields currently available in Sukuk following the steep price declines in Q4 2008 caused by the wider turmoil in global financial markets. The Shari’a-compliant Fund targets annualized returns of c.12% over the next four years.

Jamal Bin Ghalaita, General Manager of Consumer Banking and Wealth Management at Emirates NBD, sees Sukuk as undervalued after panic selling last year.

Minimum investment of USD 25,000 for individual investors and USD 1,000,000 for institutional investors. The secondary sukuk market is difficult to access but, by investing through the Fund, investors benefit from scale, diversification, and the skills of expert fund managers. Should the Fund meet certain return targets, the Fund will be called and gains will be locked in for investors.

BNP Paribas Investment Partners launches Sukuk Fund

BNP Paribas Investment Partners currently manages about half a billion USD in Sharia compliant assets and targets according to the chief executive MENA Tariq Al Samahiji to multiply this amount. The bank currently offers equity Sharia management and has recently started marketing its first Islamic bond or sukuk fund.
Al Samahiji expected the sukuk fund to attract investments from institutions and wealthy individuals, but stressed BNP would not market the fund to the retail market.

Kuwait Finance House’s 2008 posts profit before provision and increase income

Edward Russell reported on Financeasia on 2 February, that Kuwait Finance House’s (KFH) 2008 posts profit before charges but faces falling revenues. In Q4, KFH's revenue fell 16.3 % quarter-on-quarter to KD 185 mn. The revenue decline increased 3.7 % from the previous quarter when it fell 12.5 % quarter-on-quarter. Despite the decline in revenues in the second half of the year, the bank managed to report an overall increase in income of 6.5 % year-on-year.

The finance house's unaudited full-year net profit totalled KD 157 mn(USD 542 mn on revenues of KD 884.9 mn. Given the current economic environment, KFH announced to retain KD 211 mn as a "provision". After the KD 211 mn provision, KFH lost anywhere between KD4 8 mn and KD54 mn for the year. Full-year and fourth-quarter audited results have yet to be released.

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