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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.

Darakhim Sukuk Basket presented in Kazakhstan

Caspionet reported on 28 January, that Darakhim Sukuk Basket have been presented in Kazakhstan. It is expected that insurance companies, unit investment funds and pension funds will become the chief buyers of the new investment offer. Basically, they represent the companies of the Middle Eastern states, so they are issues of the central bank of Bahrain, the government of the Arab emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. It is expected that the profitability will amount to 10 % at a minimum with a circulation period of 3 years.

Tamweel restructuring including layoffs

Suzanne Fenton reported on 29 January on Gulf News, that Dubai-basedm mortgage lender, Tamweel PJSC - a company which is currently under merger process with Amlak - is restructuring its business plans and organisational structure that involves a reduction of 57 staff members from its workforce. Tamweel, Amlak, Real Estate Bank and Industrial Bank are about to merge to UAE`s largest mortgage provider. Emirates Development Bank will have access to government funds.

Iran: Cooperative Development Bank planned

Iran Daily reported on 1 February that the director of Iran Privatization Organization (IPO) has said the organization plans to establish the first-ever cooperative development bank.

Gulf Finance House targets undervalued assets in the region

Frederik Richter reported on Arabianbusiness on 1 February that Gulf Finance House is looking for acquisitions of undervalued assets in the region.

Deputy Chief Executive Mehran Jamsheer was cited.

Millennium Finance Corporation (MFC) on expansion course

Waheed Abbas from Emirates 24/7 reported on 2 February about the regional investment bank and private equity company Millennium Finance Corporation (MFC), which aims to expands its reach to Saudi Arabia, India and Nigeria through joint ventures and acquiring licences. The firm is also considering IPO.

CEO is Keba Keinde, which gave an exclusive interview with Emirates Business. Please click on the source below.

Bank of London and the Middle East plans three funds

Bank of London and the Middle East, or BLME, plans to launch at least three funds in 2009 targeting a US dollar based fixed income fund, a UK real estate distressed assets fund and an equities fund according to Adrian Gayler, the newly appointed head of private banking at BLME, told Zawya Dow Jones.

Dubai Islamic Bank partners with Hawkamah Institute

Rebecca Bundhun reported on Arabianbusiness on 29 January that Dubai Islamic Bank partners with Hawkamah Institute has signed a "founding member" sponsorship agreement with corporate governance organisation the Hawkamah Institute.

PT Bank Negara Indonesia to sell sukuk in Malaysia

Business Times reported on 30 January PT Bank Negara Indonesia, the nation’s third-largest state financial services company, plans its first Islamic debt sale in Malaysia, president director Gatot Suwondo said.

Plans are about USD 50 mn, with a 5-year and 10-year maturity if the pricing is attractive.

SCOTTISH Widows Investment Partnership enters Saudi market

The Scotsman reported on 29 January that SCOTTISH Widows Investment Partnership has launched a joint venture with Manar Financial Investment Company; Swip Saudi Asset Management. It will mainly focus on investment in the insurance sector, but will also manage shariah-compliant global emerging market equities.

Gulf Finance House reports quarterly loss and 14 % lower annual profits

Bahrain's Gulf Finance House has reported a Q4 loss of USD 10 mn after it made 'provisions on investments' compared with net income of USD 108.8 mn for the same period. Total year earnings are down to USD 291 mn (Dh 107 mn) in 2008 compared to USD 340 mn in 2007.

Securities Commission, Malaysia Approves 3 New Foreign Islamic Fund Managers

News Agency Bernama reported on 29 January that 3 new foreign Islamic fund management companies (IFMCs) have been approved by the Securities Commission to start operations in Malaysia:

The new companies are Aberdeen Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd, BNP Paribas Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd and Nomura Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd; the others who have been approved to establish operations are Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia), DBS Asset Management, CIMB-Principal Asset Management, Global Investment House and Reliance Asset Management.

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