GCC

Sukuk market struggles

Shanthy Nambiar and Aloysius Unditu reported on Bloomberg on 21 January about the outlook of the Sukuk market. A long line of sovereign and corporate issuers in GCC and Asia are delaying their issuance due to market constraints.

The average extra yield on corporate and government sukuk above the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, is now 11.1 %, up from 1.9 % a year ago, according to HSBC-DIFX indices. That spread widened to a record 11.9 % in December, compared with 6.97 % for non-Islamic bonds in the Middle East.

Islamic finance media house set up

Shariah consultancy Yasaar has announced the launch of a dedicated Islamic finance media entity called Yasaar Media. Yasaar Media recognises that there is a serious need for an information provider in the Islamic finance industry that produces in-depth reports and studies on specific market niches, asset classes and countries.

The people behind Yasaar Media are Paul McNamara and Majid Dawood.

Emaar Properties in USD 4 bn borrowing plan

John Irish and Jason Benham reported on Reuters on 20 January about the financing needs of Emaar Properties, Dubai both conventional euro medium term note and Islamic. The notes would be listed on the London Stock Exchange, with HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland acting as lead arrangers..

Sukuk Manfa’a with a value exceeding SAR 857 mn

According to CPIFinancial on 21 January, Al Salam Bank-Bahrain works with Tadhamon Islamic International Bank in agreement with Rawacheen Al Hijaz to issue Sukuk Manfa’a with a value exceeding SAR 857 mn on Burj Al Jewar, a commercial/residential tower overlooking the Holy Mosque in Mecca. Rawacheen Al Hijaz will act as the lead manager of the Sukuk Manfa’a.

The Sukuk program will give each Sukuk holder the right to benefit from the unit for a period of 19 Hijri years either to use it or sell, lease to others, grant or bequeath. The holders can also exchange their unit with another.

Mashreq Capital To Launch USD 50 mn Regional Sukuk Fund

Mirna Sleiman, Dow Jones Newswires reported on 19 January that Mashreq Capital will launch a USD 50 mn Sukuk fund in Q.
Abdul Kadir Hussain, CEO, sees a target return of between 12% and 20% over the next 12 months.

Global Investment House begins operations in Saudi Arabia

Global-Saudi is an investment bank with a capital of 50 million Saudi riyals. It carries out conventional and Islamic financial services such as the establishment and management of investment funds, portfolio management, international brokerage, private and public placement, underwriting, advisory, dealings as a principal and as an agent as well as custody. Additionally, Global-Saudi obtained approval from the Authority to launch 3 Investment Funds, which are the Global GCC Market Fund, Global GCC Equity Fund and Global Saudi Equity Fund (Noor Fund).

Al Khabeer Signs MoU with Jazan Development Co. for Jazan Economic City

Al-Khabeer Merchant Finance Corporation announced on 12 January 2009 to create a SAR 400 mn real estate fund for the benefit of Jazan Economic City projects.

Middle East Carbon Trade Market

Karen Remo-Listama reported in Emirates Business 24/7 on 13 January that Carbon trading can fetch Gulf USD 5bn annually citing Armen Vartanian, Director at EcoVentures, the Middle East and North African (Mena) as there is no single project on carbon trading. Announcement of DMCC were out and also Doha Bank plans an exchange for carbon trading and works with the San Francisco, California-based RainTrust Foundation on the Qatar exchange project and has then secured expressions of interest from Citigroup and Credit Suisse Group. Chief Executive Officer Raghavan Seetharaman said the bank would invest USD 27 mn in its electronic Qatari exchange, and has so far spent USD 7 mn on a plot of land in the USD 2.6 bn Energy City business park that Qatar is building. The start depends on the overall market conditions. Masdar launched already in February 2008 a project to develop a national CO2 capture network capable of creating a significant reduction in Abu Dhabi's carbon footprint.

BBK launches Islamic investment banking arm

Andy Sambidge reported on 13 January 2009 in Arabianbusiness on the launch of the Sharia compliant Capinnova Investment Bank by The Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait. It is licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain and has an authorised capital of USD 500 mn and paid-up capital of USD 125 mn. Capinnova’s core areas of business will include private equity, asset management and corporate finance.

Capinnova’s chairman is A. Karim Bucheery. CEO is Jamal Hijres.

Qatar Islamic to keep financing policies

The Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) has said that its financing policies for real estate, vehicles and other purposes remain unchanged even as other banks tighten their lending policies.

Sukuk Issuance Fell Dramatically In 2008 But Long-Term Market Prospects Are Good, Says S&P

Press Release

PARIS, January 14, 2009--Despite a dramatic decline in volumes in 2008, the long-term perspectives for global sukuk issuance are still good, said Standard & Poor's Ratings Services in a report published today "Sukuk Market Declined Sharply In 2008, But Long-Term Prospects Remain Strong."

"The decline in sukuk issuance in 2008 was as a result of global market turmoil, drying up of liquidity, widening of credit spreads, and investors' wait-and-see attitude," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Mohamed Damak. "Although difficult to measure, part of this decline could also have been due to comments about the Sharia compliance of some sukuk by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions.

More than 45% of sukuk issued in 2008 were "ijara" (lease financing), most probably as a direct consequence of the debate about Sharia compliance among some scholars. The value of sukuk issued in 2008 dropped by more than 56% compared with 2007, to $14.9 billion. "We do not expect the market to start reviving before the second half of 2009 or early 2010," added Mr. Damak.

Deutsche Bank launches new platform in Luxembourg

Deutsche Bank announced the launch of “Al Mi’yar”, a platform to facilitate the issuance of Sharia compliant securities domiciled in Luxembourg with Luxembourg Financial Group AG as the Sharia investment manager. Deutsche Banks Trust & Securities Services group providing the settlement framework. The platform allows for access of all asset classes including money market instruments.

Bank Al Jazira plans SAR 150 mn dividend

Bank Al Jazira`s Board plans a SAR 150 million or SAR 0.5 a share, cash dividend payout for 2008.

Janahi named Vision 3 chairman

Vision 3 is strategic alliance formed by the trio of leading Middle Eastern banks, Gulf Finance House (GFH), Ithmaar Bank and Abu Dhabi Investment House (ADIH). The primary goal of Vision 3 is to create tailored Islamic financial institutions. Vision 3 has already announced the creation of InfraCapital, the GCC's first investment bank specialising in the provision of tailored infrastructure development and finance; AgriCap, a new investment vehicle focused entirely on serving agricultural ventures and communities and Hospitality Development Fund (HDF), established to nurture and support opportunities across the global hospitality sector.

The board members include GFH chairman Esam Janahi who will be chairman of the company, Bonyan International chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Imad Nesnas, ADIH chief executive officer Rashad Janahi and Ithmaar Development Company CEO Mohamed Khalil Al Sayed

Gulf Finance House launches USD 3 bn project in Tunisia

Xinhua reported on 9 January that Gulf Finance House (GFH) launches a new USD 3 bn project in Tunisia, named "Tunis City Communication". In December 2007 GFH has already announced the "Tunis Financial Harbour", with an investment close to USD 3 bn.

Al Hilal Bank stalls overseas plans

TradeArabia published a Reuters News on 8 January that Abu Dhabi's government-owned Al Hilal Bank is unlikely to break even this year and may slow overseas expansion due to the global crisis but will grow organically in the UAE. Al Hilal became operational in June last year and expected originally to turn a profit in 2009.

Investment Dar is considering selling a stake in real estate firm Oqyana

Gulf Daily News reported on 9 January that Kuwait's Investment Dar, is considering selling a stake in real estate affiliate Oqyana. Daily As-Seyassah said Dar had received an offer from an unidentified Gulf investor to buy 50 % of its stake in Oqyana.

Bank Al Jazira plans USD 40 mn dividend

Ameinfo reported on 8 January that Saudi-based Bank Al Jazira plans a SAR 150 mn or SAR 0.5 a share, cash dividend payout for 2008.

Dubai launches Islamic commodity hedge fund index

Reuters reported on 7 January that the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority (DMCC) and Shariah Capital launched an index tracking the performance of Islamic hedge funds investing in commodities.The index performance will be calculated and reported by Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO). The index is based on four hedge funds, part of the DSAM Kauthar Commodity Fund and investing in gold, energy, natural resources and mining. Each fund has received start capital of $50 million from the DMCC.

Crisis offsets Islamic wealth management 2008 gain

Guardian reported based on Reuters on 7 January that market volatility wiped out all of the asset gains made by the Islamic fund management industry in the year to September 2008, citing US-based research and data provider Cerulli Associates. Sharia-compliant fund managers had assets of USD 65 bn at the end of the 3rd quarter 2008, including assets managed via discretionary mandates for institutions and high net-worth individuals and mutual funds. Assets invested in Islamic-compliant mutual funds rose by 50 % while the number of such funds doubled in the three years to 2008. Islamic mutual funds alone accounted for USD 35 bn-- up from USD 23.2 bn gathered in 2005. Sukuk funds remained a rare offering. Once markets stabilise this industry can potentially expand at a rate of above 10 % a year, the report said. Saudi Arabia is currently the largest domestic market for shariah investments. Challenges named in a poll by Cerulli were named the Sharia compliance costs, convincing investors of the Sharia compliance, the discrepancy in Sharia standards and the lack of 3rd party distribution.

Report order form: http://www.cerulli.com/pdfs/2008_Shariah_Info_Packet.pdf

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