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National Savings plans launching of first Islamic product next year

#Pakistan's National Savings is expected to launch its first Islamic savings product by the start of 2018. According to Zafar Masud, director general of National Savings, the proposed product would begin with one year maturity and allow investors to earn monthly profit. The plan is to issue this product from the National Savings centres. Investors can invest a minimum of Rs10,000 with no maximum investment limit. National Savings manages a portfolio which is around 30% of Pakistan’s total banking deposits and serves more than seven million accounts. Experts see prospects of higher demand for Islamic finance to tap domestic savings. It is expected to increase competition among conventional and Islamic lenders to offer best returns to the savers.

EXCLUSIVE: #SUKUK funds intact; Why we have not paid contractors – Nigerian govt

To confute speculations about the N100 billion Sukuk, the Nigerian government said the money was intact in the appropriate account opened for it at the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, earlier said the fund will be used to finance the construction of 25 key road projects across the county’s six geo-political zones. She said each of the zones was to benefit about N16.67 billion for road projects in their respective domains. After a month no money has been disbursed to contractors to start the construction works, which fuelled speculation that the money may have been diverted by the government. Director of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, said the Sukuk was not available to government for general spending purposes, but went directly into the account opened for it. Although she did not say the exact time the process for the disbursement will be completed, she assured that once the contractors fulfil the requirements, the disbursement of the money would commence.

#Pakistan eyes $3bn debt through #sukuk, Eurobonds

Pakistan has allowed immediate borrowing of up to $3bn from international debt markets by floating three sovereign bonds. The country is going to float the bonds in the largest transaction to take pressure off the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves that are depleting at a rapid pace. Earlier, the government borrowed $2bn in 2014 through similar capital market transactions. A consortium of banks have initially indicated that five-year sukuk, ten-year Eurobond and another 30-year Eurobond with combined proceeds of around $2bn to $3bn can be floated. The cabinet waived a dozen income taxes to make the float attractive for foreign investors. Road shows are expected to be held in the UK, US, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong. Standard Chartered Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Citibank and Deutsche Bank were appointed for the Eurobond issue. For the proposed Sukuk, the Fourth Pakistan International Sukuk Company is being incorporated by the Finance Division.

#Sukuk has great potential, says Jaiz Bank chief

Many West African countries and companies may fall back on Sukuk to finance infrastructural development and corporate growth plans. Managing Director of Jaiz Bank, Hassan Usman, said there could soon be a frenzy of the facility issuance in West Africa. Nigeria recently issued its maiden sovereign Sukuk. It successfully raised N105 billion for its N100 billion Sukuk. Usman added that with a population of about 329 million people, the emerging middle-class segment of the region is expected to boost demand for retail banking, takaful and Islamic funds. According to him, as the market for Islamic Finance develops in Nigeria, each segment of the market will provide potential career paths for young and middle-level professionals. He also noted it might take some time because the ecosystem is currently narrow with only one full-fledged bank, one window operation, one capital market operator and two Takaful operators.

7 Social Islami Bank directors resign, 9 new appointments made

In #Bangladesh seven members of Social Islami Bank’s board of directors have resigned from their posts. At the same board meeting nine new directors were appointed. Among the seven that have resigned, four were independent directors: Abdur Rahman, Abdul Muhith, Asaduzzaman and Moinul Hasan. The remaining three were shareholders of the bank. The names of the nine new directors are yet to be known. Earlier Social Islami Bank Limited (SIBL) faced what insiders claimed was a hostile takeover, when chairman and comittee chairman were replaced by Anwarul Azim Arif and Belal Ahmed. Former managing director of SIBL Shahid Hossain also stepped down and was replaced by Quazi Osman Ali. All new directors are connnected to the S Alam group, Belal is the son-in-law of S Alam Group Chairman and Managing Director Mohammed Saiful Alam.

Future #Sukuk Growth Depends on Overcoming Challenges

In the last few years, the growth in Sukuk market has been subdued. Sukuk market is mainly led by Malaysia now. It is important to have stable growth in the Middle East for the global Sukuk issuance to grow. The development infrastructure related to meeting sustainable development goals needs to be prioritized. Sukuk can be used to provide necessary funding which is required to purchase tangible fixed assets, technological infrastructure and real estate. Sukuk can also help in developing infrastructure in Africa to meet the existing infrastructure deficit. Agriculture remains the mainstay in economic structures of many African economies. Thus, Sukuk can be used in financing new technologies and modernizing agriculture.

#Saudi Co. Liable For $668M In Back Rent Tied To #Sukuk Bond

Financial services company Saad has been ordered to pay around $668 million to Citicorp Trustee Company and Golden Belt Sukuk Company. Saad's obligations are tied to sukuk bond and linked to the leasing of land in Saudi Arabia. The judgment was handed down Friday in London's High Court, where Judge Peter Macdonald Eggers ordered Saad to honour its obligations.

#Qatar developer Ezdan’s #sukuk yields spike after S&P downgrade to junk

Standard & Poor's downgraded Qatari real estate developer Ezdan Holding on Monday. Therefore, yields on the company's $500 million sukuk jumped by about 2 percentage points after the downgrade. S&P cut the Qatari company by two notches to BB from BBB-minus and revised its outlook to negative from stable. The rating agency cited a weakening of the company's financial risk profile partly caused by the neighbouring Arab countries' boycott of Qatar. Ezdan's sukuk, issued in 2016, were yielding around 6% last week, now the yield has surged to over 8%. The sanctions have worsened a slump in Qatar's real estate market. Housing and utility prices sank 4.7% from a year ago in September, their biggest drop for at least several years, and fell 0.7% from the previous month.

Gatehouse Bank names new BDM

Gatehouse Bank has expanded its residential property finance team with the appointment of Mehwish Mirza as its business development manager for residential home finance. Mehwish has joined the specialist bank from Together, where she was also a business development manager and held the same role for seven years at Al Rayan Bank. She will be working across the North of England and Wales, having previously provided residential Sharia-compliant finance in the North West while at Al Rayan. The appointment comes on the back of Gatehouse hiring Sim Gill and Mehraj Bari to its residential property finance team as part of its expansion into the sector.

Dana Gas profit boosted by financial settlement with Kurdistan Regional Government

Dana Gas reported a steep rise in third-quarter profit, benefiting from a $1 billion payment as part of a settlement agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The agreement boosted Dana’s third-quarter earnings and net profit for the nine-month period ending on September 30, which amounted to $125 million against $26 million during the same period one year earlier. The settlement led to a reversal of the provision for payments to the KRG, with the balance of unpaid receivables booked to new petroleum costs. The company is at the centre of a legal dispute after having refused to redeem $700 million in outstanding Islamic bonds claiming they are no longer sharia compliant. It has started legal actions in UK and UAE courts to avoid redeeming the sukuk. Dana claimed being confident pursuant to independent legal advice of prevailing in its interpretation of the outcome.

British judge to issue ruling on $700 million Dana Gas #sukuk case soon

British High Court judge George Leggatt said that he would not further adjourn a trial in the Dana Gas case and would issue a judgement soon. Dana is claiming it does not need to redeem its $700 million sukuk, which matured at the end of last month, because the instruments became invalid under UAE law. Dana had asked for further postponement of the trial pending developments in a UAE court, where motions in the case have also been filed.

Bank Islam issues its third #Sukuk #Murabahah RM300 million

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd (BIMB) had obtained approvals from Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia to establish the third subordinated Sukuk Murabahah programme with the issuance of RM300 million. BIMB said the sukuk has tenure of a 10-year non-callable five years with maturity date on November 12, 2027. BIMB noted the proceeds shall be utilised to finance Bank Islam’s Islamic banking activities, working capital requirements and other corporate purposes.

Mazoon Electricity raises $500m from debut #sukuk issue

#Oman's Mazoon Electricity Company successfully priced its debut $500 million 10-year Sukuk offering. The Sharia-compliant Ijara structure was adopted for issue of the Sukuk Certificates and the profit rate was set 5.20%. The final order book had $5 billion from 300 orders, representing more than 10 times oversubscription. The final order book distribution by geography comprised of 47% from the Mena region, 17% Asian investors, 23% from European investors and 13% from US investors. The transaction marks the first international corporate Sukuk issue out of the Sultanate. The issuance is rated Baa2 (Negative) by Moody’s and BBB (Negative) by Fitch. A comprehensive global roadshow was conducted in Asia, UAE, London, Boston and New York. Mazoon CEO Zahir Abdulla Al Abri attributes the success of the Sukuk to the regulatory mechanism, support of the Government and consistent growth of the company.

Islamic finance in #Malta

In 2008, the Malta Financial Ser­vices Authority was the first EU regulator to issue guidelines on Islamic finance, which were updated in 2015-2016. In 2016, the Malta Stock Ex­change launched an Islamic Equity Index in order to attract investment and business from the Middle East. From a legislative aspect, Malta is already well-geared to welcome new structures that provide for Islamic finance. Malta is the only EU member country whose regulatory framework provides for protected cell companies and incorporated cell companies. Thus it may easily accommodate Takaful insurance solutions. Islamic investors are given the opportunity to set up their funds as Special Purpose Vehicles, Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities, Alternative Investment Funds or Professional Inves­tor Funds. Islamic finance institutions may also generate funds by listing on the Malta Stock Exchange.

#UAE's Dana Gas profit boosted by financial settlement with KRG

Dana Gas reported a steep rise in third-quarter profit, benefiting from a $1 billion payment as part of a settlement agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The agreement boosted Dana’s third-quarter earnings and net profit for the nine-month period ending on September 30, which amounted to $125 million against $26 million during the same period one year earlier. The settlement led to a reversal of the provision for payments to the KRG, with the balance of unpaid receivables booked to new petroleum costs. The company is at the centre of a legal dispute after having refused to redeem $700 million in outstanding Islamic bonds claiming they are no longer sharia compliant. It has started legal actions in UK and UAE courts to avoid redeeming the sukuk. Dana claimed being confident pursuant to independent legal advice of prevailing in its interpretation of the outcome.

Reserve Bank says no to Islamic banking: All you need to know

After examining the details of Islamic banking, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided not to pursue the matter any further. It all started in late 2008 when former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan had stressed on the need for a closer look at the issue of interest-free banking in the country. Later, an inter-departmental group (IDG) set up in the RBI examined the legal, technical and regulatory issues for introducing Islamic banking in India. It recommended an "Islamic window" in conventional banks for gradual introduction of Sharia-compliant banking. However, no deadline was given for the proposal. This Sunday the central bank has refused to go on with the idea saying the decision was taken after considering the opportunities available to all citizens to access banking and financial services.

Safaricom and Gulf Bank to launch Sharia-compliant banking service

#Kenyan operator Safaricom and Gulf African Bank are set to launch a Sharia-compliant banking service through M-Pesa to allow customers to open and operate M-Sharia bank accounts. The M-Sharia platform will be rolled out by next March, targeting the bank’s retail and merchant segments. Retail customers will be able to borrow cash through their mobile phones from as little as KES 100 to KES 200,000. Merchants will have a chance to buy stocks by borrowing through that platform from KES 50,000 to KES 500,000. The tenor for the retail service will be thirty days, while that for merchants will be three months.

ADIB hosts regulatory compliance #forums for banks from #Sudan and #Iraq

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) held forums on the international regulatory environment for banks from Sudan and Iraq to support their increasing integration into the global economy. The forums followed the lifting of the United States' longstanding sanctions against the government of Sudan on 12 October 2017. Andreas Meletiou, ADIB’s Head of Global Financial Institutions, said the seminars were equally important for transfer of knowledge and experiences, as well as for deepening networks. The two separate forums gathered around 50 bankers from each country to discuss the evolving international regulatory environment for financial institutions. They addressed issues such as Basel III and IFRS 9 requirements as well as anti-money laundering measures. ADIB, which has a large retail and corporate banking operation in its home market of the United Arab Emirates, also operates a wide international network, including Egypt, Iraq, Sudan and the United Kingdom.

#Innovation in Islamic finance is better cultivated from the roots than the branches

Although Islamic banking and Sukuk comprise the lion’s share of Islamic finance assets, there are significant untapped opportunities in the securities, equity markets, investment funds, insurance and microfinance markets. For Islamic finance to flourish, time would be more valuably spent creating new financial products that are Shari'ah-based rather than adapting existing conventional products to become Shari'ah-compliant. The innovative magic is in the roots, not the branches. On 14 November 2017, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) will host the Global Financial Forum (GFF). The invited industry experts are set to provide valuable insights on the progression of the sector and innovation in Islamic finance.

MBSB buys Asian Finance Bank for RM645m, set to be an islamic bank

#Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) is buying Asian Finance Bank (AFB) for RM644.95 million in cash. MBSB stated that the proposed merger would result in it becoming a full-fledged Islamic bank. MBSB entered into a conditional share purchase agreement with the shareholders of AFB. MBSB will pay RM396.89 million in cash and RM255.51 million via the issuance of 225.51 million new MBSB shares at RM1.10 each. The cash option was based on a valuation of 1.2 times AFB net assets valued at RM496.12 million as at December 2016, while the shares option was based on a valuation of 1.5 times the accepted net asset. MBSB said the proposed merger was expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2018. The subsequent tranches of the proposed transfer of assets and liabilities and disposal of the residual should complete in three years from the first tranche transfer.

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