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HSBC #Malaysia launches ESG Islamic structured product

HSBC has launched its first environmental, social and governance (ESG) Islamic structured product in Malaysia. The product offered by HSBC Amanah provides customers the opportunity to invest in a product that matches their values when it comes to environmental and social causes. It pays fixed coupon of 3.90% per annum (three years tenor) and 4.50% per annum (four years tenor) in the first two years of the investment. Payout at the end of third and fourth year is subject to Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index performance. Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index tracks the performances of Hong Kong listed companies that excel in corporate sustainability. The CEO of HSBC Amanah Malaysia Arsalaan Ahmed said the introduction of the ESG Islamic Structured Product clearly demonstrates HSBC’s pioneering strength in Islamic finance, particularly with regard to product innovation.

WATCH: Islamic finance institutions serve a crucial role for BRI

The crucial role of Islamic finance in financing China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) pays homage to the Silk Road and symbiotic relationship between China and the Islamic world prior the 15th Century. Rightfully so, as BRI is the 21st Century’s New Silk Road. Introduced in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, BRI consists of overland roads and railway systems – The Belt – and maritime highways – The Road. It allows the seamless and efficient transportation of people, natural resources, products, and capital to flow to and from mainland China. The sheer magnitude of BRI finds itself in its financing. A crucial role exists for Islamic financial institutions due to the emerging market of the Middle East, Africa, and South-Asia (MEASA). Jiang Xiheng, Vice President at the China Center for International Knowledge on Development (CIKD), stated the importance of having the United Arab Emirates as a partner in BRI.

Dubai Islamic Bank board approves plan to acquire Noor Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB)’s board has approved its acquisition of lender Noor Bank to create one of the largest Islamic banks in the world with combined assets of nearly Dhs275bn. Following the completion of the deal, Noor Bank’s operations will be integrated and consolidated within DIB. The new size and scale will allow DIB to expedite its strategy to expand across the far east, sub-continent, and east Africa with Dubai as the hub. The UAE is seeing a wave of consolidations in the market as banks seek to increase capital due to slowing economic growth. Three of Abu Dhabi’s banks are currently in the midst of a merger. That follows the combination of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank in 2017 to create a lender with $175bn of assets.

Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art Awards $2.4 Million in Grants

New York's Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art has announced fifteen grants totaling $2.49 million in support of arts and media projects dedicated to strengthening relationships between U.S. Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The grants are part of the foundation's Building Bridges 2018-2019 Program, which supports theatrical and literary programming, documentary films, hands-on workshops, and a "jingle truck" created by a Pakistani truck-art painter that will tour elementary schools. Senior program officer Zeyba Rahman said the projects proposed by grantees offer an inspired, inventive, arts-based approach to deepen connections between Muslims and their neighbors in the U.S. For a complete list of Building Bridges Grant Program awardees, see the DDCF website.

Islamic Banking already in #Uganda, says Kasaija

According to the Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, no amount of opposition will stop the operationalisation of Islamic Banking in Uganda because it has already kicked off. He is the one who signed the instruments operationalising it and he said Ugandans should stop associating it with terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. During their annual general meeting last Saturday the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) resolved to lobby against the implementation of Islamic Banking. The Christian bishops speculated that Muslims could be using Islamic Banking as a bait to lure Christians into Islam. This drew a backlash from Muslim leaders, who warned the bishops to refrain from mobilising against Islamic Banking and advised them to seek knowledge from Ministry of Finance or Bank of Uganda rather than undermining it through the media.

Maybank Islamic wants to link up Gulf Cooperation Council with Asean

Maybank Islamic wants to be the bridge for the Islamic banking sector between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the ASEAN region. CEO Datuk Mohamed Rafique Merican expressed confidence that the company would be able to play the role in facilitating the trade, as well as flow of funds for financial activities between the two regions. Last year, MIB announced that it might receive regulatory approvals to set up its Dubai branch in the first half of 2019. Maybank Islamic has strong footprints in Islamic finance, particularly in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Being the largest Islamic bank in Malaysia, Maybank Islamic has about RM225 billion worth of assets as at Dec 31, 2018 (FY18). Its total gross financing for FY18 advanced 8.1% year-on-year to RM176.8 billion and its Islamic financing contributed 58.7% to the group's total financing.

IFSB database disseminates data for Islamic Banking Systems in 22 countries

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has published country-level data on financial soundness and growth of the Islamic banking systems for Q3 and Q4 of 2018 from 22 IFSB member jurisdictions. A special feature of this publication is the inclusion of full-fledged Islamic banking data of Kazakhstan for the first time as Kazakhstan joined the database project in January 2019. The total assets of the Islamic banking industry stand to USD 1,754 billion in 2018Q4 from USD 1,684 billion in 2017Q4. Financing by Islamic banks from the participating jurisdictions reached USD 1,052 billion in 2018Q4 from USD 1,024 billion in 2017Q4. The IFSB Task Force has been greatly facilitating the collection of Islamic banking data. The database is available at the IFSB website https://psifi.ifsb.org.

IFSB issues working paper on risk-sharing in Islamic Banking

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) issued its 10th research (WP-10) in the IFSB Working Paper series which explores the risk-sharing practices in the Islamic banking sector. It describes the views of both Islamic banks and regulatory and supervisory authorities (RSAs) on the practices of Islamic banks in IFSB member jurisdictions. This is in relation to the governance rights of unrestricted profit-sharing investment account (UPSIA) holders. The findings in WP-10 reveal that the capital treatment of the UPSIA in general varies across different jurisdictions and Islamic banking type. In most of the jurisdictions UPSIAs are considered to be 'investments' exposed to losses rather than 'deposits' with capital certainty.

KIB issues $300 million AT1 #sukuk

Kuwait International Bank’s (KIB) Chairman Sheikh Mohamed Jarrah Al Sabah announced the issuance of an AT1 Sukuk. On Wednesday 29 May 2019, KIB has successfully priced a $ 300 Million AT1 perpetual Sukuk that classifies under Tier 1 capital at an annual profit rate of 5.625%. KIB received an immense investor demand as evidenced by an oversubscription rate of over 15 times. This issuance has been arranged with efforts made by a group of participating parties including Citi and Standard Chartered who acted as Joint Global Coordinators. Dubai Islamic Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, KFH Capital and KAMCO acted as Joint Lead Managers and Bookrunners. Boubyan Bank acted as Co-Manager.

Why biblically responsible investing is gaining traction

Biblically responsible investing (BRI) is an investment decision making process that applies Christian values to issues facing shareholders and stakeholders regarding moral and social principles. Currently it represents a tiny portion of the total assets invested, but funds using BRI practises are growing exponentially. Earlier this year, Ambassador Advisors, a Sh52 billion advisory firm converted all of their assets under management to align with biblically responsible investing best practices. Similarly, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has invested over 60% of its Sh41 billion fund in line with biblical standards, the Southern Baptist Convention also screens the approximately Sh1.1 trillion in its investment portfolio using BRI principles. The guiding questions are "What would Jesus do?", "Is this right and just?", "Would God be pleased?" and these questions govern the investment process.

#Kuwait International Bank starts marketing $300mln #sukuk

Kuwait International Bank started marketing $300 million perpetual sukuk to boost its tier 1 capital, with a yield of around 6.25%. Perpetual bonds mimic some of the characteristics of equity because they lack a maturity date. Citigroup, Dubai Islamic Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, KAMCO Investment Co, KFH Capital Investment Company, and Standard Chartered Bank have been hired to lead the transaction.

NGOs appeal for immediate end to attacks on civilians and hospitals in Idlib

Heads of 48 NGOs working in Syria have signed an open letter to the UN Security Council calling for an immediate end to attacks on civilians and hospitals in Idlib. Three million civilians in northwest Syria are scared and many are homeless. According to the United Nations, over 200,000 people were forced to flee the continuous bombing and shelling of towns in southern Idlib and northern Hama. SAMS President Dr Ahmad Tarakji says the United Nations has a responsibility to protect the schools, hospitals and homes and present a tangible plan to deter such attacks. Human rights organizations are now urging all parties to act quickly to ensure the protection of civilians in northwest Syria.

#Nigeria Should Develop Policies To Enhance Islamic Estate Planning – Awojobi

In this interview FBNQuest Trustees managing director Kunle Awojobi speaks about the benefits of Islamic Estate Planning. Islamic Estate Planning is considered an act of purifying or cleansing the individual, which involves voluntary and compulsory distributions made after death. Islamic Estate Planning is a relatively new area in Islamic Finance in Nigeria. In 2017, FBNQuest Trustees began educating Muslims through its flagship programme the Legacy Series, both on radio and in press. They also established partnerships with key players in the Islamic Finance space. FBNQuest Trustees helps with the management of Islamic Wills, but also other instruments like Zakat, Wakaf, Hibah, etc.

#Qatar- QIIB stays focused on digitalisation, utilising #fintech: CEO

Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) remains focused on digitalisation and utilising financial technology. Bank CEO Dr Abdulbasit Ahmad al-Shaibei sees fintech as the future of banking. QIIB cannot afford to miss out, so it is looking closely at the blockchain technology and ways to partner with fintech companies. The bank is investing significantly in the IT infrastructure and considers Cyber security a top priority. Al-Shaibei plans the opening of new branches at commercial malls across the nation as a natural response to the urban development and customer needs. QIIB is a major stakeholder in Umnia Bank in Morocco, where it has not rolled out all banking products, it is currently going through the regulatory procedures. Umnia Bank is a joint venture among QIIB, Credit immobilier et hotelier and the Moroccan Deposit and Management Fund.

VCBank buys majority stake in Caribou and Fuddruckers

Bahrain's Venture Capital Bank (VCBank) announced its acquisition of a significant stake in the Caribou Coffee and Fuddruckers Restaurant franchises in Bahrain. From its first outlet in Bahrain in 2007, Caribou has grown its network to 22 stores, and is ranked among the top three international coffee shop chains operating in the kingdom.

Medina Islamic Finance Boost Financial #Inclusion in Africa

Medina Islamic Finance, an Africa-focused digital Islamic microfinance platform has announced a strategic partnership with United Labs, a New York-based data science venture studio. The announcement was made by the founder and CEO of Medina Islamic Finance, M. Wagane Diouf, at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank Group. United Labs will initially provide Medina Islamic Finance with access to Artificial Intelligence technology and automated local language customer support systems that will accelerate Medina’s underwriting while improving customer support. United Labs CEO Bachir Diagne said he was proud to support Medina's inclusive ecosystem with data science technology solutions and to boost financial inclusion in Africa. Medina Islamic Finance plans to roll out its suite of ethical banking solutions in key targeted African countries in partnership with established financial institutions later this year.

BML launches complete range of Shariah-compliant business financing products

Bank of Maldives (BML) Islamic launched a range of Shariah-compliant financing products. BML Islamic Retailers’ Financing allows businesses with average monthly sales of MVR 50,000 to finance up to three times the monthly sales volume, and a repayment period of 48-months for financing facilities and 12-months for Wakala based overdraft facilities. Additional security is not required for financing up to MVR 500,000. BML Islamic Business Development Financing offers flexible collateral requirements for working capital, refurbishment, property development or to buy new machinery. BML’s Deputy CEO Mohamed Shareef stated that the new products show the Bank’s commitment to the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises in the country.

Islamic Finance Centre opens in #Kazakhstan

Qatar's Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, and Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) have opened an Islamic Finance Centre (IFC) in Kazakhstan. The opening ceremony was attended by HBKU president Dr Ahmad M Hasnah, along with the rector of Al-Farabi University, Dr Galym Mutanov, and AIFC board vice chairman Yernur Rysmagambetov. The IFC is equipped with the most advanced technological tools offering training programmes with the aim of becoming a research hub and educational cluster in Islamic finance. HBKU's College of Islamic Studies (CIS) will support this centre and the two institutions will be working on student exchange programmes, joint conferences, and mutual research projects.

GCC Banking Sector to Witness Mergers Worth Nearly $1 Trillion

The GCC banking sector is undergoing major consolidation phase with 20 banks negotiating mergers and acquisitions with an estimated $1 trillion worth of assets. The UAE leads the pack with highest number of mergers both in terms of value and volume. Currently, six mergers and acquisitions are being negotiated or underway in the UAE banking worth sector worth $625.25 billion followed by two M&As in Saudi Arabia worth $256 billion and one each in Kuwait and Oman. According to Moody's Investors Service, the recent merger and acquisition drive will help the sector by easing overcapacity and boosting profitability. Moody's Senior Analyst Ashraf Madani says that slow growth and subdued credit demand in the region are the biggest drivers of consolidation.

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