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Bahrain Islamic Bank Swiftly Ready to Launch Open Banking Services

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) announced the launch of open banking services starting from 1st of July 2019. This is the result of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and its directive to integrate all retail banks in the Kingdom with FinTech companies. The open banking services features two types of services. The Account Information Service grants customers access to their bank account data from different banks through a single unified platform. The second service entails transfers between different accounts through a single application. According to BisB CEO Hassan Jarrar, Open Banking is a game changer, offering new online payment channels without the need for credit cards or debit cards.

Moody’s upgrades AHB Sukuk Company Ltd.’s #sukuk programme to (P)A1 and its USD500 million senior note to A1 following guarantee by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Moody's Investors Service upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 the provisional foreign currency senior unsecured MTN rating of AHB Sukuk Company Ltd. The AHB Sukuk Company is a special-purpose vehicle established in the Cayman Islands by Al Hilal Bank. Moody's also upgraded to A1 from A2 the backed senior unsecured rating on AHB Sukuk Company Ltd.'s outstanding USD500 million senior unsecured note due 19 September 2023. The outlook on AHB Sukuk Company Ltd.'s senior unsecured note remains stable. The upgrades are driven by the issuance on 2 July 2019 by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) of a guarantee covering AHB Sukuk Company Ltd.'s sukuk programme and its USD500 million senior note, and follows ADCB's acquisition of Al Hilal Bank on 1 May 2019.

Noor Bank raises over Dhs500m for Azimut’s fixed maturity fund

Noor Bank entered a successful collaboration with Azimut (DIFC) to launch the largest US-dollar Islamic fixed maturity plan (FMP) in the UAE under a Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) domiciliation. Raising Dhs507 million in subscriptions within two weeks of its launch, the FMP that will mature in four years is set to provide an income of 5% per annum through investing in sukuk portfolio. Noor Bank began operations in Dubai in 2008 as an Islamic financial institution. Azimut is Italy’s leading independent asset manager (active since 1989). The parent company Azimut Holding was listed on the Italian stock exchange on 7 July 2004 (AZM.MI) and, among others, is a member of the main Italian index FTSE MIB.

#Saudi Arabia's Arbah Capital buys Glasgow's Sauchiehall building

Saudi Arabia-based Arbah Capital has acquired the Sauchiehall building in Glasgow, UK, valued at $76m (SAR285m), through a sharia'a-compliant investment structure. Arbah Capital stated that the acquisition represented a core long term investment and would help attain value at a time of uncertainty in the UK. The investment firm added that the Sauchiehall building aligned with its main strategy to focus on acquisitions of distinctive assets. The mixed-use property is a 2.87ha LG+G+6F structure, and features a multi-storey car park as well. Arbah Capital's CEO Mahmood Al Kooheji says this purchase enhances Arbah’s strategic alliances and relationships which further supports its position as an international gateway into the investment market.

#Kuwait's Warba Bank plans $500 mln #sukuk issue this year - CEO

Kuwait's Warba Bank is working to set up a sukuk programme of up to $2 billion with an initial $500 million issuance this year. CEO Shaheen Al-Ghanem said the programme is subject to central bank approval. After the initial issuance this year, the rest would be issued over the next few years as needed and the proceeds used to finance operational matters. Ghanem added that the bank was looking to start a new asset management business this year aimed at overseeing about $500 million in investments within the next three years. Its launch is awaiting final approval from the Kuwait Capital Markets authority. The bank is looking to increase its total assets to over 3.5 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($11.52 billion) by 2022 from 2.59 billion dinars. Additionally, the bank is competing to lead a 350 million Kuwaiti dinar ($1.15 billion) loan for Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) that will likely involve multiple banks.

UAE lender ADCB plans to cut 2,000 jobs post-merger: Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) is planning to slash about 2,000 jobs in the near future. In May ADCB, Union National Bank (UNB), and Al Hilal Bank merged to create the UAE’s third largest bank with 423 billion dirhams ($115 billion) in assets. Before the merger, the three banks employed about 8,500 people. ADCB started laying off employees once it began the merger with the two other banks. While the new entity retained the name ADCB, UNB was delisted and dissolved as a legal entity. Meanwhile, Al Hilal Bank retains its existing identity and continues to operate as a separate Islamic bank within the ADCB Group.

Sharjah Islamic Bank raises $500mln #sukuk

Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) raised $500 million in its debut Additional Tier 1 (AT1) sukuk at the lowest price of 5%. Accordingly, the bank’s AT1 Sukuk yield is the lowest in the region, down from 5.25% in 2015. The lender has received orders of $4.8 billion or 9.5x oversubscription from many investors, as well as nearly 209 individual orders from Asia, GCC, and Europe. SIB has appointed Citi, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank as joint global coordinators. It also hired Joint Structuring Agents along with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Bank ABC, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, KFH Capital, and Standard Chartered Bank as the joint lead managers and joint bookrunners. The sukuk is a Non Call 6 years Perpetual Instrument which will reset to 6 years Treasuries in 2025.

S&P sees GCC move ahead of Africa in race for fintech adoption

A new report on the prospects for fintech in the Middle East and Africa has affirmed the importance of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. According to Standard & Poor's, the GCC's most advanced centres are Dubai and Bahrain. "The Future Of Banking: Fintech's Prospects in the Middle East and Africa" report identified five factors necessary to propel fintech adoption: human capital, regulation, financial capital, physical infrastructure and demand, either from established financial institutions or end users. It said North and Sub-Saharan Africa still lagged behind the GCC, where banking penetration stands at just under 80%.

Sharjah Islamic Bank mandates banks for capital boosting #sukuk

United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah Islamic Bank has hired banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of an issuance of U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk. Citi, HSBC and Standard Chartered have been hired to coordinate the deal, and they are bookrunners along with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Bank ABC, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, and KFH Capital. The planned sukuk deal will boost the bank’s Tier 1 core capital.

Dubai developer The First Group to issue $135mln #sukuk

Dubai-based real estate developer The First Group plans to issue $135 million in sukuk. The developer has appointed investment bank Shuaa Capital to arrange the planned transaction. The First Group specialises in hotel investments. It has completed 11 projects in the UAE to date and has seven hospitality developments under construction. This issuance is one of few debt issues in the pipeline in the Gulf region after business slowed sharply during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week.

Dubai issues new financial centre insolvency law after Abraaj collapse

Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum issued a new insolvency law for companies operating in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The new law has been issued following the collapse of Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj. The firm had a row with some investors over the use of money in a $1 billion healthcare fund. The new law introduces a "new debtor in possession bankruptcy regime" for debtors that have filed for bankruptcy but still hold assets. Abraaj, its founder Arif Naqvi and a former executive are being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on U.S. charges that they defrauded investors.

#UAE's Sharjah Islamic Bank readies capital-boosting dollar #sukuk

Sharjah Islamic Bank is expected to issue U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk by the end of June to boost its Tier 1 core capital. The bank's board approved earlier this year the issuance of sharia-compliant Tier 1 instruments for up to 2.8 billion dirhams ($762 million). Last year, Sharjah Islamic raised $500 million in sukuk with HSBC and Standard Chartered as global coordinators, attracting around $950 million in orders. A few other Gulf issuers are also expected to tap the international debt markets over the coming weeks, taking advantage of cheaper funding costs after a drop in yields on the benchmark U.S. Treasury rates.

Why a second #merger wave may hit #UAE lenders

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, banks in the United Arab Emirates may go through a second wave of consolidation as lenders seek to improve profitability. Bloomberg analyst Edmond Christou said the absence of common shareholders and a lack of cross-Emirate deals have so far hindered transactions. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Commercial Bank International are among lenders that have under-performed in some areas and could benefit from commercially driven mergers. Most bank mergers in the UAE have so far been driven by common shareholders, making it easier for deals to be completed. Dubai Islamic Bank approved a plan this week to proceed with the acquisition of smaller rival Noor Bank, both of which are controlled by Dubai’s main holding company.

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.

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.

#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.

#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.

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