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Islamic finance key to Sarawak's infrastructure growth, says RAM Ratings

According to RAM Rating Services, the infrastructure growth in Sarawak is expected to be mainly funded by Malaysia's vibrant sukuk market. This year sukuk has been the preferred funding route for Sarawak-based entities, with majority from the power sector. Issuers from the port, construction, property, manufacturing, plantation, oil and gas support services, financial services and telecommunication sectors have tapped into the sukuk market as well. RAM Ratings deputy CEO Promod Dass said Malaysia's sukuk market will remain a key funding avenue for the infrastructure development in Sarawak. He applauded the Malaysian government and Securities Commission for building a solid foundation for the sukuk market.

Digitisation, it’s all in the family

Emirates Islamic is targeting balance sheet growth and improved profitability along with digitisation. According to Deputy CEO Wasim Saifi, these objectives are complementary. The speedier technology adoption comes naturally due to the bank's close links with Emirates NBD, a technology leader in consumer banking in the UAE. As a subsidiary of Emirates NBD, it has access to all the innovations the parent company adopts. Emirates Islamic has upgraded its core banking platform and introduced an improved mobile banking app with 25 new services. Emirates Islamic is the first and only Islamic Bank in the UAE to support both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. As part of the new product roll out, the bank has launched QuickRemit to India and will launch the service to Pakistan and other remittance corridors soon.

MoU signed to support creation of #Sukuk sector in #Kenya

Nasdaq Dubai and the Nairobi Securities Exchange have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate the creation of a Sukuk sector in Kenya. The MoU was signed in Dubai by Hamed Ali, CEO of Nasdaq Dubai, and Geoffrey Odundo, CEO of the Nairobi Securities Exchange. Hamed Ali assured that by cooperating and sharing expertise, the two Exchanges will provide powerful support for the growth of Islamic finance in Kenya. Geoffrey Odundo said the development of the Islamic capital markets can provide significant support for funding national development while strengthening international relationships. Other recent steps for the sector include a Sukuk transaction on Nasdaq Dubai’s Murabahah financing platform carried out by the Africa Finance Corporation.

The Sharia-compliant #gold standard - one year on

Interest in gold has soared since the Shariah standard for gold was introduced almost a year ago. The standard was approved as a collaboration between the Bahrain based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and The World Gold Council (WGC) in London. Natalie Dempster, managing director at the WGC, says a number of existing gold products have now been certified as Shariah compliant and are being marketed as such. Several new regionally issued products are also under development. Adopting a Shariah standard has implications not just for the Muslim world but the UAE itself. Dubai in particular is rising as a purchase and investment destination. This has led to the emergence of institutions such as Noor Bank, Regal Assets and others that will buy and store bullion on behalf of clients from around the world.

King Abdullah Financial District set for Phase I launch

The first phase of the King Abdullah Financial District project is due to be launched next year. The business hub in Riyadh has been under construction since 2006 and will soon get a fresh lease of life under the management of the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund. The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) will take over the management of the King Abdullah Financial District from the Public Pension Agency. As outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, the new hub is to be an economic free zone with visa exemptions and a direct connection to the airport. The government is now exploring new incentive options to attract financial institutions to occupy space in the district. The 73-building development has been restructured to reduce office space and increase the number of residential units.

ICD and BSIC Niger cooperate to finance SMEs in #Niger

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and BSIC Niger have entered into an agreement to finance SMEs in Niger. The line of financing agreement was signed for the amount of €9m under the Wakala structure. The collaboration will focus on developing SMEs, improving the living standard of the population by creating jobs, generating tax revenues for the government and promoting Islamic Banking in the country. Abakar Adoum, Managing Director of BSIC, said the signing of the agreement marked the beginning of a lasting partnership and SMEs will enjoy a mentoring that meets their needs at acceptable costs. SME clients will get access to a a 5-year line of financing. Adoum believes that other forms of partnership, like the opening of an Islamic window, will also develop in the near future.

Islamic finance can play key role in PPP delivery

The fast-growing Islamic finance industry can play a significant role in closing the infrastructure gap through public-private partnerships (PPP). According to the World Bank, shari‘ah-compliant assets have grown exponentially in the past two decades, accumulating nearly $1.9 trillion in assets. The Gulf Cooperation Council has the largest share of shari‘ah-compliant assets, at 42% of the global total, followed by Middle East and North Africa with 30% and the rest of Asia at 22%. Islamic banking and Islamic deposits grew faster than their conventional equivalents in Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey. Developing countries in Asia will need to invest $26 trillion from 2016 to 2030, or $1.7 trillion per year to eradicate poverty and respond to climate change. The infrastructure needs of Sub-Saharan Africa exceed $93bn annually. Islamic finance instruments like Istisna and Ijarah can be used for large, longer-term financing arrangements, such as financing for power projects, infrastructure and transport equipment.

Dubai's Emirates REIT to meet investors ahead of debut dollar #sukuk - lead

Emirates REIT will hold fixed income investor meetings until Dec. 1 ahead of a debut dollar-denominated five-year sukuk sale. The issuance is expected to range between $350 million and $425 million. The company has mandated Standard Chartered as sole global coordinator, and Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, Standard Chartered and Warba Bank as joint lead managers and bookrunners to arrange the meetings ahead of the planned issuance.

The rise of the Islamic capital market

The Financial Services Authority (OJK) recently licensed Indonesia’s first full-fledged Islamic fund management company, Paytren Asset Management (PAM). This newly established Islamic fund manager is another milestone in the development of the country’s Islamic capital market.

Islamic finance calls for more talents

Over the last few years, Islamic finance has witnessed a remarkable growth at 15 to 20% Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). The industry's rapid growth undoubtedly creates a huge demand for new expertise. Like other countries, Malaysia also needs a significant boost of Islamic finance talents. Based on Bank Negara Malaysia’s Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020, the financial sector would require an additional 56,000 employees of whom 22,400 are specifically needed to support the Islamic sector by 2020. According to a survey by the Finance Accreditation Agency (FAA), 80% of the respondent countries believed that the available Islamic finance talents do not satisfy industry needs. Malaysia has taken the lead and established three training institutions. They are the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM), the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) and the International Syariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA).

Maybank Islamic launches rent-to-own #housing #scheme

Maybank Islamic has launched a rent-to-own (RTO) housing scheme. Named HouzKEY, the product is targeted at first-time house buyers and those who want to upgrade their homes. According to Maybank Islamic's CEO, Datuk Mohamed Rafique Merican, HouzKEY addresses the growing issue of concern for affordable home ownership. The new product will initially be made available to Maybank employees and is slated to be rolled out to the general public in early 2018. HouzKEY is the first such RTO product in the country fully enabled on a digital platform, with the application and submission of supporting documents being required to be made online. To be eligible, applicants should have a household income of at least RM5,000 and commit to a minimum rental tenure of five years. They will have the option to purchase the property after one year at a pre-agreed price.

SECP okays Shariah-compliant trading counter at PSX

The Shariah Advisory Board (SAB) of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has reviewed the proposal of Shariah-compliant trading counter. The main feature of the proposal is to convert the T+2 settlement into T+0 settlement mechanism in the Shariah-compliant securities listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). The Shariah Advisory Board has granted approval of the proposed trading counter. The board also reviewed and granted approval of three AAOIFI standards: Shariah Standard No 17 - Investment Sukuk, Shariah Standard No 18- Possession and Shariah Standard No 23 - Agency and the Act of an un-commissioned agent.

#Saudi #fund ‘to take over Riyadh financial district’

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has finalized a deal to take over the management of the King Abdullah Financial District from the Public Pension Agency. As outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030 economic reform plan, the financial district is to be an economic free zone with visa exemptions and a direct connection to the airport. The first phase of the project is due to launch next year with plans to host the G-20 meeting there in 2020. The government is now exploring new options to attract financial institutions to occupy space in the district. The 73-building site has been restructured to reduce office space and increase the number of residential units. PwC and local regulator Capital Market Authority are among the companies due to take space in the area.

S&P assigns ‘B’ long-term rating to proposed #sukuk, unsecured notes

Standard and Poor’s (S&P) assigned a preliminary ‘B’ long-term rating to the proposed dollar-denominated sukuk issuance by Pakistan. A similar rating was assigned to the proposed benchmark sized US dollar-denominated senior unsecured sukuk, which will be issued by The Third Pakistan International Sukuk Company. The government may raise the amount with pricing in the range of 5.5 to 7% for 5 to 10 years. This is expected to provide the much needed support to Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves. In October last year, Pakistan raised one billion dollars through issuance of 5-year sukuk at a historic low rate of 5.5%. The country floated a 10-year Eurobond of $500 million at 8.25% in 2015. These bonds had S&P rating of B-.

#Pakistan all set to generate $3b through euro, #sukuk bonds

Pakistan is all set to generate up to $3 billion by issuing euro and sukuk bonds in the international debt market. Road shows for introducing bonds will soon start in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Europe and United States. The government’s plans to raise loans from the international market by issuing bonds would support the foreign exchange reserves, which are under pressure due to widening trade deficit. The deficit surged by 100% to $5.013 billion in the first four months of the current fiscal year as compared to $2.259 billion of a year ago. Both Sukuk and Eurobond are expected to be offered with tenures ranging from 5 to 30 years. The S&P earlier has assigned preliminary B rating to Pakistan’s proposed dollar bond issue.

Fidor Expands Middle East Africa Regional Hub in Dubai Silicon Oasis

Fidor Solutions has opened its newest office in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSOA), the integrated free zone technology park. DSOA's Deputy CEO, Juma Al Matrooshi and Fidor's Founder Matthias Kröner led the inauguration of Fidor’s regional headquarters in the presence of senior officials. Fidor is committed to contributing to the region’s growth by helping strengthen the fintech community and support the region’s economy through local employment and new talent searches. Commenting on the expansion, Matthias Kröner said Dubai was the natural next step for Fidor, especially because of the region’s growth within ecommerce, payments and its overall digitisation. Juma Al Matrooshi congratulated Fidor on expanding its regional presence in the Middle East and assured that the digital banking provider will significantly benefit from this location.

CMA approves Golden Group's RO200mn #sukuk issuance

Oman's Capital Market Authority (CMA) has recently approved a plan by Golden Group to issue sukuk worth OMR200 million. The sukuk will be issued in different tranches and the first issuance will be for OMR50 million by way of a private placement. The first issuance is with a tenor of five years, it matures in 2022, and has a profit rate of 6.5%.

Islamic Development Bank forms $500M science fund

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced it had formed a $500-million fund for scientific research. President Bandar Hajjar said the fund would find solutions to economic adversity using scientific innovations. He was speaking at the 33rd Ministerial Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) in Istanbul. Hajjar added that the bank had received 100 million Saudi riyals ($26.6 million) as contribution. He also added that to address the issue of youth unemployment a five-year program has been launched to improve cooperation between universities, research centers, non-governmental organizations and government departments.

Islamic banks brace to re-engineer itself to address customer needs in digital era

The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) is taking place on December 4th, 5th and 6th, in the kingdom of Bahrain. The theme for WIBC 2017 is Drivers of Economic Growth & Risks: Policymakers & Regulators. WIBC is expected to draw participation from over 1,300 global industry leaders, policy makers, innovators and stakeholders, all focused on navigating through the complexities of the global financial system. CEO of Path Solutions, Mohammed Kateeb, said the Islamic finance industry was going through drastic changes as a consequence of evolving customer behavior, channel proliferation and the digitization of operations. He underlined the importance of recognizing common challenges and opportunities facing the industry at large.

Dana Gas seen returning to table after London ruling

Dana Gas plans to appeal the UK court ruling on $700mn of its outstanding sukuk. According to Dana Gas, the decision by the London court is flawed because the UAE-based company was barred from participating in the proceedings due to an injunction at home. Judge George Leggatt said the English law contracts are enforceable in the case. Dana was challenging a provision called purchase undertaking, which allowed the trustee on behalf of investors to force Dana to buy them out of the agreement at par. Dana shares fell as much as 5.6% on the Abu Dhabi stock market on Sunday. The court ruling puts investors one step closer to resolving a dispute over the sukuk that highlighted one of the Islamic finance industry’s weak spots.

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