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SAMA fines 16 financial institutions for violating principles of responsible finance

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has fined 16 financial institutions for violating principles of responsible finance and has instructed them to correct the violations. SAMA stated that the fines were imposed in order to implement principles of justice and transparency without providing details of the fines. The central bank fined some of the Kingdom’s major financial institutions such as Al-Rajhi Bank, Al-Ahli Bank, Saudi Fransi Bank as well as Al-Riyad Bank, Al-Jazira Bank and Dubai-based Emirates NBD Bank. SAMA said that the fines were imposed to ensure fairness and competitiveness of financiers.

Goldman Sachs brings forward claim linked to Saudi debt saga

Goldman Sachs has bought forward a claim against Bahrain’s TIBC whose default 10 years ago triggered the biggest financial crisis in Saudi Arabia. The Bahraini lender raised money in international markets, transferring the funds to now defaulted Saudi conglomerate Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers (AHAB). After TIBC defaulted on a foreign exchange deal, AHAB collapsed along with another Saudi conglomerate Saad Group, leaving an estimated $22 billion in unpaid debts. TIBC, administered by the Central Bank of Bahrain, has a claim of around $3 billion against AHAB, while more than 60 banks that have lent money to TIBC remain unpaid.

Abu Dhabi bank delays instalments on personal financing in Ramadan

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) revealed it would postpone a monthly instalment for its personal finance customers at no extra charge during the holy month of Ramadan. ADIB annually offers flexible payment to customers during Ramadan to meet their individual needs. Philip King, global head of Retail at ADIB, noted that customers eligible for the Ramadan payment postponement initiative would be informed by SMS, adding that the offer is valid for instalments due between 1 May and 31 May. However, customers are free whether to withdraw or maintain making instalment payments. Throughout the holy month, ADIB hosts Ramadan tents across the UAE that organise Iftars managed by the bank’s employees who have volunteered to be part of the initiative.

CBK rejects Warba Bank #merger with KMEFIC

In February, Kuwait’s Warba Bank announced the purchase of Ahli United Bank (AUB) and its subsidiary to acquire their collective 75.7% stake in Kuwait & Middle East Financial Investment Company (KMEFIC).
Warba Bank said that the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) has rejected its proposed acquisition of a controlling stake in KMEFIC. According to CBK, Warba Bank's acquisition of AUB’s stake in KMEFIC will not have a significant effect on the financial position of the lender. The purchase agreement came at a time when mergers and acquisitions in the Gulf’s financial sector are rising as lenders attempt to improve their financial standing through consolidation.

QIB launches #Takaful product for low-income workers

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) announced the launch of its affordable Takaful product for low-income workers called "Family Sheild - WPS". This low cost Takaful product can also be purchased by companies who want to give additional protection to their employees. The plan can be purchased by contributing QR10 per month or QR120 per annum and provides a cover of QR50,000 for death and QR100,000 in case of death due to accident. D. Anand, General Manager of Personal Banking Group at QIB, said the Family Shield WPS Takaful plan was designed for expatriate workers and can be easily purchased instanty over the counter without any medical tests. He added that QIB was well aware of the worker’s concern for their family’s well being in case of unseen events and wanted to provide them with an affordable and useful Takaful solution.

S&P: GCC Islamic Banks to Show Resilience in 2019,2020

According to S&P Global Ratings, Islamic banks of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are expected to show resilience over the next two years after weathering tough market conditions in 2018. Last year they expanded slower than conventional peers for the first time in five years. The growth forecast for Islamic banks for 2019-2020 is the same as what the rating agency is estimating for conventional lenders in the region. S&P Head of Islamic Finance Mohamed Damak forecasts a muted GCC economic growth over this period, despite some benefit from government spending and strategic initiatives such as national transformation plans and Dubai Expo 2020. However, with the transition to IFRS9/FAS 30, Islamic and conventional banks will even more closely align. Another trend is the significant increase in Islamic banks’ coverage ratios at end-2018, coupled with a stable cost of risk that is lower than conventional banks.

#UAE's Majid Al Futtaim markets green dollar #sukuk

UAE-based shopping mall operator Majid Al Futtaim is set to raise between $500 million and $650 million in green sukuk. The proceeds of the sukuk will back environmentally-friendly projects in areas such as renewable energy and sustainable water management. The price guidance for the deal, which has so far attracted around $2.7 billion in orders, subsequently went down to around 225-230 basis points over mid-swaps. HSBC and Standard Chartered have been hired as global coordinators for the planned deal, and they are working as bookrunners along with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, ENBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, and Gulf International Bank.

Abu Dhabi banks ADCB, UNB and Al Hilal complete three-way #merger

The Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) has completed its merger with Union National Bank (UNB) and the combined company has acquired Al Hilal Bank to create the third largest financial institution in the UAE. Following the merger with ADCB, UNB has been dissolved as a legal entity while its shares have been delisted.
The enlarged ADCB Group will provide services to more than a million customers. It will hold AED423bn ($115.16bn) in assets with a market share of 21% of retail loans as of 31 December 2018. The Government of Abu Dhabi owns 60.2% stake in the enlarged banking group. The integration of the three banks’ operations and customer experience will be fast tracked in a phased manner from the second half of 2019.

Who's Talking to Whom as Record #Merger Wave Shakes Up Gulf Banks

Bloomberg provides an overview of which lenders are in merger talks and where those conversations are at. Talks are underway in Abu Dhabi for a possible tie-up between Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank with First Abu Dhabi Bank, a merger that would create one of the Middle East’s largest lenders. Saudi Arabia’s biggest lender National Commercial Bank said at the end of 2018 that it’s starting initial talks with Riyad Bank. This deal would form the Gulf’s third-biggest lender. Dubai’s largest bank Emirates NBD is buying Turkey’s Denizbank for $2.8 billion. The three-way merger of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union National Bank and Al Hilal creates the fifth-biggest lender in the Gulf.

#UAE aim to become regional Islamic art and culture capital boosted by Jameel Prize’s first exhibition in Dubai

The UAE’s status as a centre for Islamic art and design was boosted this past week as Jameel Arts Centre opened the Jameel Prize 5 exhibition. First awarded in 2009, the Jameel Prize is a collaboration between London's Victoria & Albert Museum and Art Jameel. Worth 25,000 British pounds, it awards contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic tradition. In addition to the two joint prize winners, Iraqi artist Mehdi Moutashar and Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum, the prize exhibition in Dubai is also showing works by the six finalists. They are: Iranian artist Kamrooz Aram, Jordan and Dubai-based graphic designer and architect duo naqsh collective, Iraqi-born painter Hayv Kahraman, Bahraini fashion designer Hala Kaiksow, Moroccan multimedia artist Younes Rahmoun, and Pakistani painter Wardha Shabbir.

Dar Al Arkan set to redeem $400m Islamic bond

Saudi Arabia’s Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company aims to redeem its $400-million sukuk by using internal cash reserves. The sukuk, listed on Irish Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Dubai, is set to mature on May 28, 2019. Over the last decade, Dar Al Arkan has issued nine international sukuks and post redemption of 2019 sukuk and Dar will continue to have $1 billion of sukuks. CEO Andy Raheja said that Dar Al Arkan had cash and cash equivalents near SR5 billion. Given the strong free cash flow conversion, the company sees no immediate need to issue any new Sukuks for the foreseeable future.

#Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank to boost mortgage #lending

Al Rajhi Bank aims to boost mortgage lending as more affordable housing comes on the market. CEO Steve Bertamini said the bank's mortgage book grew 27% year-on-year in 2018 and it is looking for double digit growth for the next two to three years. Al Rajhi, which has traditionally focused on consumer banking, has been expanding its exposure to the private sector. It also sees opportunities in project finance as public-private partnership contracts for water and renewable energy start to be awarded. Saudi Arabia's economy grew in the fourth quarter of last year at its fastest rate since early 2016 due to an expanding oil sector. Fourth-quarter gross domestic product grew by 3.59% from a year earlier.

Top ADCB executives appointed to lead Al Hilal Bank

Senior executives at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) were appointed to top leadership positions at Al Hilal Bank, as it prepares to be acquired by ADCB. Alaa Eraiqat was announced on Sunday as the new chairman of Al Hilal Bank, while Amr Al Menhali was announced as the private bank’s new chief executive officer. The appointments come just 10 days before the three-way bank transaction, which will see ADCB merge with Union National Bank and then acquire Al Hilal. The three banks are set to merge on May 1. The new merged entity, which will retain the name ADCB, is expected to own Dh420 billion in assets, and have around one million customers.

INTERVIEW: Gulf banking consolidation 'long overdue' - Investcorp's co-CEO

According to the co-chief executive of Bahrain’s Investcorp, Rishi Kapoor, consolidation in the financial services industry in the region is long overdue. Consolidation in banking would build the scale required to increase investments in financial technology, as payment solutions are increasingly enabled by fintech. The banking sector in the Gulf Arab region is seen as overcrowded, an M&A deal among banks is currently either in the pipeline or has taken place within the past few months. Investcorp’s co-chief also expects more M&A in the region’s disorganised retail sector, particularly in Saudi Arabia. As for the sectors that offer attractive investment opportunities within the Gulf region, Kapoor favours the sectors related to privatisation, social infrastructure and domestic consumption.

Emirates Islamic Bank's net profit surges 97% to Dh411 million

Emirates Islamic reported a net profit of Dh411 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 97% year-on-year and 54% quarter-on-quarter. Emirates Islamic CEO Salah Mohammed Amin said the bank recorded its highest ever quarterly net profit since its inception in 2004. The strong set of results was supported by balance sheet growth, higher funded income, growth in fee income and lower cost of risk. The bank’s total income for the first quarter increased by 12% to Dh663 million. The total assets at Dh60.6 billion, increased by 4% from end 2018. Impaired financing ratio is at 8.6% with a strong coverage ratio of 111%.

Insurance Sector Projected to Witness Majors Mergers in GCC Soon

Mergers and acquisitions will inevitably happen in the UAE's overcrowded insurance and Takaful industry. According to Vasilis Katsipis, general manager at AM Best, there are several reasons that hamper local insurers and Takaful firms from consolidation. Individuals holding larger stakes in the companies are willing to sell at a much higher price which is not attractive for the buyers. Also, it is not a high priority for the owners either in terms of liquidating assets or in terms of spending time. Katsipis noted that if it is purely for financial reasons, then the market will see some activity in terms of consolidation in the next two years. According to Safder Jaffer, managing director of Milliman, the lack of long-term view of profitability by shareholders, low interest rate environment and lack of expertise continue to be a main challenge for takaful companies.

Dubai Islamic Bank confirms #merger and #acquisition prospects

Dubai Islamic Bank is looking at acquisitions among other options as part of its expansion strategy. A potential acquisition of Noor Bank by DIB would create a lender with AED 275 billion in assets if completed. The Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) is the biggest shareholder in DIB with a 28.4% stake, and it also owns 22.9% of Noor Bank. The Middle East’s financial industry is witnessing a wave of consolidation as banks seek ways to improve competitiveness and boost capital. Abu Dhabi is in the process of merging Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), Union National Bank (UNB) and Al Hilal Bank after the consolidation of First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi to create First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) in 2017.

Potential Noor Bank acquisition 'positive' for Dubai Islamic Bank

According to Egyptian investment bank EFG-Hermes, the potential acquisition of Noor Bank by Dubai Islamic Bank would be a positive move for the buyer. Also, there is room for more consolidation among local lenders as the UAE is overbanked, with 22 local and 38 foreign banks, most of which have "sub-optimal" market shares. EFG-Hermes expects a potential transaction to be made through a share-swap. It estimates a share-swap of 1 DIB share for 7.8 Noor Bank shares that would lead to a 1% earnings per share dilution for DIB. The merged entity would have an assets market share of 10%, as Noor Bank's assets amount to Dh51 billion or 2% market share and DIB’s assets amount to Dh224bn or 8% as of 2018.

Islamic GCC Bond Sales Fall by 32 Percent Due to Oil Price Hike

According to Moody’s Investors Service, the GCC region's sukuk issuance fell by 32% to reach $16.7 billion in the first half of 2018. This contributed to a reduction in the Gulf’s overall share of the global sukuk issuance to less than a third (30%) compared with 39% a year earlier. The GCC also dragged down total global issuance which fell by 12% to reach $55 billion in the first six months of the year. Recovery in the oil price has reduced pressure on Gulf government’s budget deficits and helped lower their borrowing requirements. While Islamic bonds have fallen out of favour in the Gulf, their appeal remains strong in Malaysia. The South-East Asian country increased its issuance by 9% in the first half of the year to reach $22.4 billion, making it the world’s leading Sukuk issuer.

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