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COVID-19: Indonesian banks face challenging time but hopes remain

The spread of COVID-19 is expected to hit Indonesian banks’ performance this year, but analysts remain hopeful that the industry will still be resilient. The Financial Services Authority (OJK) recorded gross non-performing loan (NPL) ratio at 2.79% in February, the highest level since May last year. Loan growth, meanwhile, stood at 5.93% in the month, reflecting the lowest expansion since November 2009, as demand plunged. The rise in bad loan ratio is also expected to increase pressure on banks’ profitability, even on Indonesian banks, which are considered to be some of the most profitable in the world. Although Moody’s expects bank profitability to decrease, vice president Alka Anbarasu also said Indonesian banks could still survive during the challenging climate as they could absorb the increase in credit costs.

#Oman's Taageer Finance and Sohar disclose 4.67m rial exposure to NMC

Oman's Taageer Finance and Sohar International Bank disclosed they have exposures to NMC Health. Taageer has a 1.23 million rial (Dh11.72m) exposure to NMC, while Sohar International Banke's exposure stays at 3.45m rials. Last week NMC was placed in administration by a UK court on the application of one of its biggest lenders, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. The joint administrators from turnaround advisory firm Alvarez & Marsal will take immediate control of NMC Health and will work on behalf of all stakeholders. In February, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority launched an investigation into NMC's activities after the company's shares were suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange.

#Bahrain’s Al-Salam Bank appoints new chairman

Al-Salam Bank-Bahrain has announced the appointment of Sheikh Khalid bin Mustahail Al-Mashani as the chairman of the board of directors. He is now replacing Khaleefa Butti bin Omair bin Yousif Al-Muhairi, who submitted his resignation as chairman and board member of the bank. Sheikh Khalid has more than 24 years of banking experience.

Is this stock halal? Islamic finance charts high-tech future

The Zoya mobile application screens US-listed stocks based on criteria issued by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions. US-based Wahed Invest also uses those criteria to help tens of thousands of people invest "ethically". Islamic bankers are hoping that modern platforms will open the industry up to young investors, and that its innately ethical credentials will prove to be another draw. According to Mohammed al-Sehli, CEO of Wethaq Capital, the emphasis has been on growing the market rather than making it more efficient. The sector must focus more on innovation after suffering from lack of innovation, standardisation and automation of processes.

Global #sukuk issuance down 32% in Q1 2020, recovery expected in Q3

The volumes of the global issuance of sukuk have dropped 32% in the first quarter of this year against Q1 2019, and a further decline is expected in Q2 2020, as several countries implement measures to control the spread of COVID19. Most government issuers of sukuk are likely to turn to conventional bond markets as they grapple with the impact of weaker economic environments and tight budgets. S&P Global Ratings identified two major trends for sukuk in 2020 - defaults and slowdown of the innovative sukuk issuance. Given the shocks to the economic environment and rapid change in market conditions, the advisory firm expects credit risk to increase sharply.

#Egypt approves first issuance of sukuk by Talaat Mostafa subsidiary

Egypt's Financial Regulatory Authority approved the first issuance of sukuk worth 2 billion Egyptian pounds ($127 million) by a subsidiary of Talaat Mostafa Group. The sukuk, issued by the subsidiary Arab Company for Projects and Urban Development, will be available for trading and for expedited payment but will not be transferable for shares. The new sukuk period is for 57 months, up to the end of 2024. Talaat Mostafa Group is Egypt's largest listed real estate developer.

NMC Health set for administration as negotiation attempts with creditors fail

Abu Dhabi's biggest healthcare company is heading for administration as the company revealed it had been unable to secure an agreement on its debt. NMC Health has made a series of damaging disclosures in the past few months after a report by activist investor Muddy Waters in December alleged it inflated cash balances, overpaid for assets and understated its debt. Following the disclosures, chairmen and executives departed from the firm. According to a disclosure from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), NMC Health owes money to more than 80 local, regional and international lenders. ADCB said it expects joint administrators to launch a full, transparent and independent investigation into the company's affairs and the misrepresentation of its finances.

COVID-19 and Islamic Law Roundup (4/4)

Countries and communities around the world are working to contain COVID-19 and mitigate its effects. Religious communities use digital tools, such as Zoom, to host services, lead classes on spiritual cultivation, and build community amidst mosque closures. North American Muslims change funerary rites in response to the contagious nature of COVID-19. Ulama’ of Al-Azhar University issue fatwa banning congregational prayers.

NMC Health expects to enter administration

Healthcare company NMC Health failed to reach agreement with its creditors. Its major lender, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) has filed an application in the UK's High Court requesting the company be placed into administration. ADCB’s exposure to NMC amounts to around $981m. US short seller Muddy Waters raised questions about the company’s true level of debt in December. In February the stock was suspended after the investigation turned up inconsistencies in its finances and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority opened an investigation into the business.

The IILM Issues a total of USD 1.06 billion #sukuk

The International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) has issued three short-term A-1 rated sukuk for a total amount of USD1.06 billion. The auction drew more than USD1.85 billion in demand. With over 60 orders from diversified investors, the Islamic Primary Dealers got allocations across all tenors of up to 90% of the total issuances. The USD300 million 1-month sukuk were offered at 1.15%, while the USD460 million 3-month and USD300 million 6-month series were offered at 1.55% and 1.73%, respectively. With today’s auction, the IILM successfully crossed the 100th mark in sukuk issued since 2013, which amounts to a cumulative issuances of over USD53 billion.

Time to mobilise #zakat, retail #sukuk for Indonesia’s COVID-hit MSMEs – KNEKS official

An official of Indonesia’s National Committee for Islamic Economy and Finance (KNEKS) says that Islamic finance instruments and domestic retail sukuk are more sustainable financial support alternatives for COVID-hit MSMEs than loans from multilaterals. Indonesia’s government last week announced a 405.1 trillion rupiah ($24.65 billion) financial package to support households and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The potential of zakat in Indonesia is valued at around 286 trillion rupiah a year, according to the national zakat body BAZNAS. But actual collection is a far cry, at around only 9.5 trillion rupiah ($577.3 million) in 2019. On the possibility of a domestic retail sukuk, there are ongoing discussions on the instrument’s structure and mechanisms.

COVID-19 to impact GCC #sukuk issuance in 2020

According to rating agency Moody’s, Islamic finance is set to keep expanding in 2020 and beyond as the GCC countries and Malaysia help drive growth in Shariah-compliant financial products. Moody’s VP-Senior Credit Officer Nitish Bhojnagarwala expects sukuk issuance to remain stable at around $180 billion this year and the takaful insurance market will see steady growth. He added that downside risks are also rising because of the coronavirus outbreak, as prolonged market disruption could dissuade issuers from coming to market. The rating agency expects flat growth in total global issuance this year after a 36% rise in 2019 to $179 billion. Islamic banking penetration in the core Islamic financial markets of GCC, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey, increased to 31.2% in September 2019, from 25.5% in 2013.

Islamic investments a more stable choice in uncertain times

According to Malaysian Principal Islamic Asset Management CEO Datuk Syed Mashafuddin Syed Badarudin, Islamic investments are less volatile than their conventional counterparts and may be a better choice for investors during times of uncertainty. He notes that the increased uncertainty from the coronavirus outbreak has led to financial market volatility not seen since the last global financial crisis. Asean countries, including Malaysia, have already cut policy rates in response to the turmoil. Based on real interest rates in the region, there is more room for rate cuts and this bodes well for bond prices. Badarudin expects that market conditions will continue to be volatile until some stability is seen regarding the virus situation. He expects Principal Islamic to increase its asset size this year despite the more challenging economy.

NMC’s Deepening Debt Crisis Heads to a Showdown in U.K. Court

The crisis surrounding NMC Health widened, as the struggling hospital operator rejected a call to be put into administration and United Arab Emirates’ banks disclosed more than $2 billion of exposure. The next chapter opens Thursday when a U.K. court is scheduled to hear Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC’s bid to place NMC into the hands of administrators. With a market value of $2.4 billion and total debt of $6.6 billion, NMC now faces an investigation by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority.

IFSB organises online facilitating implementation of standards workshop on financial inclusion and Islamic finance from IFSB Technical Note 3

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) is organising an online workshop on Financial Inclusion and Islamic Finance based on the IFSB’s recent Standard, Technical Note 3 (TN-3) on 21 April 2020 at 4.30pm (Malaysian Time). This is part of the workshop series that is aimed to create flexibility and enhance the participants understanding of the IFSB standards and guiding principles. TN-3 underscores the importance of financial inclusion, due to its intricate connection with economic growth, shared prosperity and poverty reduction. The IFSB invites all of its member organisations and market players to participate in this e-workshop on Financial Inclusion and Islamic Finance.
For more information on this and other FIS e-workshop series please visit https://www.ifsb.org/event_detail.php?e_id=427

Maybank Islamic’s new Dubai branch sets out to attract Gulf investors to Southeast Asia

Maybank Islamic’s move into branch banking in the Middle East aims to attract Gulf investors to Southeast Asia. The Malaysian bank opened its first overseas branch at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in February. Maybank Islamic deputy CEO Nor Shahrizan Sulaiman said the new Dubai branch would serve as a the bank’s gateway not just to the UAE but to the wider GCC. The bank pursues further growth in Singapore and Indonesia, which it sees as home markets outside of Malaysia. The international business expansion is not new, as it has always been one of the focus areas of Maybank Islamic from early on. Maybank Islamic was granted a full Islamic banking licence from the Dubai Financial Services Authority last July, allowing it to open the DIFC branch. It replaces Maybank Islamic’s office in Bahrain, which has closed down.

National Takaful Company “Watania” Earns 13.1 Million Dirhams in Net Profit for the Year 2019.

National Takaful Company Watania has announced positive financial results in 2019, as the company's net profit increased to 13.1 million UAE dirhams, compared to 9.4 million dirhams in 2018. The company launched many new initiatives in 2019 to boost its overall performance, most of these initiatives focused on enhancing the levels of customer service. A new digital platform was launched that allows one of the fastest quotations and policy issuance system for motor business in the UAE market. The Company was among the first ones in UAE to subscribe to Blockchain technology to manage the motor claims recovery process. Chairman Dr. Ali Saeed Bin Harmal Al Dhaheri is confident that once the corona crisis is over and businesses start to get back to normal, Watania will be in a good position to seize the advantage.

Does divesting shares for ethical or religious reasons produce real change?

Making moral and religious investment decisions is right, but does not change the world. Shariah compliant screening of stock market investments enables investors to invest in accordance with their religious beliefs, but that is all it does. To combat the harm from alcohol, for example, requires other policies. Divestment campaigns do achieve one thing. That is to increase publicity about the issue concerned, whether that is climate change in the case of oil companies, or deaths from smoking in the case of tobacco companies. The ethical and religious reasons for divestment should not be ignored, since they matter to the individual shareholder. However ethical investors should not deceive themselves to believing that divestment will result in change in circumstances when it will not.

Moody's expects $180bn #sukuk issuance this year

According to Moody's Investor Service, sukuk issuance will stabilise after growing for four consecutive years, supported by the deficit financing needs of some GCC sovereigns, amid weaker oil prices and higher sukuk refinancing. Moody's expects sukuk issuance of around $180bn in 2020, after a 36% rise in 2019 to $179bn. Global sovereign sukuk issuance increased by 31% to $119bn in 2019, from $91bn in 2018. Moody's noted that downside risks are rising in the short term because of the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, as prolonged market disruption could dissuade issuers from coming to market. Green sukuk will benefit from robust growth in institutional investor demand for environmental, social and governance (ESG) products, given the natural crossover of sustainable investing and Islamic finance.

Islamic finance to expand in 2020 as demand for Shariah-compliant products grows

According to Moody’s Investors Service, Islamic finance is poised to expand in 2020 and beyond, helped by growing use of Shariah-compliant products in the GCC region and Malaysia. Moody's vice president Nitish Bhojnagarwala expects sukuk issuance to remain stable at around $180 billion (Dh661bn) this year, and the takaful insurance market will see steady growth as insurance premiums pick up in newly-penetrated markets. However, downside risks are rising because of the coronavirus outbreak. Mergers between Islamic and conventional banks in the GCC will drive one-off increases in assets, as they did in 2019. Saudi Arabia will remain the world's largest Islamic banking market, while the sector will continue to expand rapidly in Malaysia.

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