GCC

Minhaj Shari'ah Financial Advisory opened in Dubai International Financial Centre

Zawya reported that Dr. Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah the Chairman of Minhaj announced the launch of its operations in DIFC, which will provide advisory and training services. Sheikh Amin Fateh is the resident Sharia Advisor. The other Sharia scholars involved are: Dr. Mohammad Sultan Al Olama, Dr. Muhammad Amin Qattan, Dr. Yousef Abdullah Al-Shubaily, SH. Abdul Sattar Kattan and Dr. Ibrahim Ali Alshal.

About Minhaj
MINHAJ is a DIFC based company specializing in providing Shari'ah financial advisory services, supervision, Shari'ah auditing, revision and training for Islamic and traditional financial institutions. It is the outcome of a partnership between Tharaa Holding and a number of most prominent scholars and specialists in the Islamic financial services industry world wide.

Source: 

http://www.zawya.com/Story.cfm/sidZAWYA20090106092423/Minhaj%20Shari'ah%20Financial%20Advisory%20launched%20in%20DIFC

Noor Investment launches Noor Takaful

AMEInfo reported on 6 January about the announcement of Noor Investment Group to launch its Noor Takaful brand. All services will be offered either through Noor Takaful Family or Noor Takaful General, which are headquartered in Dubai and have a combined paid up capital of Dhs 150 mn, offering a suite of general and family takaful coverage for individuals, businesses and corporate clients. The aim is to expand the reach of these companies to include the Middle East and North African region.

According to Arabian Business, the international expansion plans of Noor are holded for the time.

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/542803-noor-investments-international-exp...

Alternative to GCC Currency Union?

Chris Cook opined in an Asia Times Online feature as guest writer that the Gulf takes the wrong currency path, commenting on the announced creation of a GCC currency union along the lines of the Euro. He sees the alternative to the central banking model as a peer-to-peer "Gulf Clearing Union" similar to the Swiss Wirtschaftsring-Genossenschaft. WIR members are obliged to give security over their property by way of collateral, it is a monetary system that is "property-backed". The key innovation that will enable a Gulf Clearing Union is the simple expedient of creating - within a suitable legal framework - a "petro" unit redeemable in a constant amount of energy value. Settlement of credit would take place in petros, in goods or services by reference to the petro, or in dollars or other currency acceptable to the seller.

Chris Cook is a former director of the International Petroleum Exchange and is now a strategic market consultant, entrepreneur and commentator.

Swiss WIR bank concept: http://www.wir.ch/

Islamic Commodity Investments

Devon Maylie reported on 5 January in Barron`s magazine, that commodity-focused companies and hedge funds are introducing special products that comply with Islamic law, either equity based or as direct exposure to commodities. Ian MacDonald, executive director for gold and precious metals at Dubai Multi Commodities Center is cited to claim that there are not enough effort spent on Sharia compliant commodity products so far. The DMCC is seed financing with USD 50 mn each a range of commodity oriented equity funds managed by BlackRock Capital Management, Tocqueville Asset Management, Zweig-DiMenna International Managers and Lucas Capital Management on its platform in partnership with US based Shariah Capital. London-based ETF Securities last year launched an exchange-traded fund for precious metals that is being marketed to Sharia investors. The World Gold Council is also partnering with DMCC to launch a similar product in March.

Rasmala MENA Private Equity Fund 2 announces first closing with USD 120 million

Arabianbusiness reported on 5 January the successful first closing of the Sharia compliant fund Rasmala MENA Private Equity Fund 2, with USD 120 million in commitments received. The fund is primarily focused on mid-cap opportunities in the GCC and Egypt that benefit from the region’s GDP growth.

Tamer Bazzari is Deputy CEO at Rasmala and member of the Fund’s investment committee.

Nakheel Sukuk yields 32 %

Dubai`s corporate bonds pricing in further economic difficulties according to Nish Popa, ING Investment Management. The yield on the 3-year Sukuk issued by Nakheel Development, soared to 32% from 5% in January 2008.

Saudi Hollandi Bank SAR 775 mn Tier 2 Sukuk

Arab News reported on 31 December that Saudi Hollandi Bank closed its SAR 775 mn first tranche of a SAR 1.5 bn Tier-II Sukuk issuance approved by the bank`s shareholders. The 10-year floating rate note is 2 % above SIBOR (Saudi Interbank Offered Rate) and can be called at the end of 5 years. According to the Chairman Mubarak Al-Khafrah Saudi Hollandi is the first to support its capital in this way. Saudi Hollandi Capital acted as sole lead manager & book runner for this transaction.

Geoff Calvert is the managing director.

Blue Orchard: Middle East next growth area for micro finance

Shveta Pathak reported in Business 24/7 on 30 December about the opportunity of micro finance in the Middle East interviewing Jack Lowe, President of BlueOrchard, USA, a Swiss micro finance company.

Jack Lowe, President of BlueOrchard, USA, sees the stable returns and low volatility offered by micro finance as key benefits making it a preferred asset class. The stable returns and low volatility are achieved because micro finance is closely linked to real economy, the society and has the advantage of managing the current situation better.

With the UAE Ministry of Economy having been assigned the task of launching a federal strategy to develop a programme to support and finance small start-ups in the UAE, micro finance institutions are hopeful of tapping the market Lowe told Emirates Business in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts from the interview: http://www.business24-7.ae/articles/2008/12/pages/12302008_f5a31399c6914...

GLOBAL CHALLENGE: Gulf investors are being sought to fund USD 100 mn contests

Richard Agnew wrote on Arabian Business on 29 December about the Global Challenge: Gulf investors are being sought to fund USD 100 mn contests to tackle world changing breakthroughs in fields such as space exploration and life sciences. Peter Diamandis is chairman of the US-based X-Prize Foundation, which manages on behalf of the investors the contest.

Launched in 1996, the X-Prize Foundation is credited with helping to kickstart the commercial space industry through the Ansari X-Prize — a USD 10 mn competition won by the Paul Allen-backed SpaceShipOne vehicle in 2004. Large prices should change the way people think, from questioning the feasibility to discussing the delivery. Future contest may focus on mapping the ocean floor, boosting food production, and for example a person who is severely handicapped from spinal cord injuries could be given the ability to regain their functionality.

http://www.xprize.org/

Shariah compliant green fund launched

Hedge Fund Review reported on 22 December about the Falcon Fund launched by Da Vinci Invest of Zurich, aiming to invest in the carbon markets and forestry.

The fund will actively trade the carbon markets on a short-term basis and invest in forestry for the long term. Da Vinci Invest expects this strategy provide consistent value growth, diversification and an environmental benefit. Rainforest Invest, Forest Finance and Miller Forest will source opportunities in Panama, Costa Rica and Paraguay.

Only land formerly used for agricultural will be planted. No rainforest will be cut to farm the plantations. The Da Vinci Green Falcon Fund will charge a 2% management fee and a 20% incentive fee.

Da Vinci Invest, incorporated in 2004 as a UK company, is based in Zug.

Zurich launches takaful venture

Switzerland-based Zurich Financial Services Group has established a joint Islamic insurance venture with Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company (ADNTC). The joint venture, called Zurich Takaful Company Limited, will be based in Dubai at Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) and will deal with family takaful businesses across the Middle East. It is 51% owned by Zurich and 49% owned by ADNTC. Zurich’s initial focus will be establishing its DIFC office as a regional hub, which will then act as a springboard for future growth in the region.

Sukuk Trends

Mohammed Abbas and John Irish, reported on Gulf News (Reuters) on 9 March about the Sukuk market tendencies driven by sellers issuing in local currencies at low rates. The fallen LIBOR rates due to Federal Reserve policy are above off-setting for the increased margins asked for credit clients.

Local currencies are in favour as long as speculation is around about reevaluation of the dollar peg - this also limits the foreign demand for Sukuk and exposure to Gulf credit markets. Local currency Sukuk are relying on the GCC internal demand for such paper.

Source: http://archive.gulfnews.com/business/money/10212004.html

Islamic Microfinance

Dear All,

Please post here any information, concepts and ideas to foster Islamic Microfinance.

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IslamicFinance.de

SABIC new Sukuk issue received approval by regulator

Gulf Base cited Reuters that Saudi SABIC received regulatory clearance for its planned SAR 5 bn Sukuk sale. The approval was posted on the Saudi bourse website. SABIC is the worlds biggest chemicals firm by market value.

Source: http://www.gulfbase.com/site/interface/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?n=61385

Dar eyes UK Islamic banking unit

Arabian Business reported on 28 April that Investment Dar its proposed British bank unit 'Dar Capital' might start with capital of up to GBP 100 mn. A project study should be finished by year-end.

Chairman of Investment Dar is Adnan Al-Musallam.

Source: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/517695-dar-eyes-uk-bank-with-up-to-100-ml...

Al Khaliji bank in Qatar gets more active in Islamic finance

Pratap John in Gulf Times reported on 24 April that Al Khaliji bank will be concluding more Shariah-based transactions including co-arranging a Sukuk in Qatar after obtaining the Qatar Central Bank’s approval for an Islamic branch. The bank plans to open branches successively.

Al Khaliji chief executive officer is David Proctor.

Source: http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=214610...

Arab Bank lists funds on the Cayman Island Exchange

CPI Financial reported on 22 April that Arab Bank Fund Managers (Guernsey), a subsidiary of Arab Bank lists nine investment funds on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange. The IIAB Sukuk and Murabaha MENA Fund and the IIAB MENA Feeder Fund, are Shari’ah compliant funds and are both part of International Islamic Arab Bank Protected Cell Companies (IIAB PCC). The investment adviser for these funds is AB Invest in Jordan.

All of the funds are dollar denominated and open-ended, with monthly valuation and dealing.

The Guernsey administrator for all the funds is Legis Fund Services.

Source: http://www.cpifinancial.net/v2/News.aspx?v=1&aid=203&sec=Wealth%20Manage...

Millennium Private Equity first close

Finalternatives reported on 22 April that Millennium Private Equity has held a first close on its Global Energy Fund, which has raised USD 200 mn, and its Telecoms, Media & Technology Fund at USD 150 mn. Both are targeting USD 1 bn in equity. The funds shall have a tenor of 7 years, targeting 20 % IRR and investing between USD 20 to 100 mn per transaction.

Sponsors of the funds include Dubai Islamic Bank, United Gulf Bank, the Bahrain-based investment banking arm of the KIPCO Group of Kuwait, and the Saudi Arabian Islamic Development Bank, each conbtributing USD 50 mn to each fund, as well as Kuwait Finance House, which invests USD 50 mn into in the Global Energy Fund.

Keba Keinde is chief executive of Millennium Finance Corporation and chairman of Millennium Private Equity. Millennium Private Equity, a subsidiary of Millennium Finance Corp., is based at the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Source: http://www.finalternatives.com/node/4155

CIMB to expand Islamic banking in Middle East

The Star Malaysia reported on 22 April that CIMB group intends to expand its Islamic banking business in Dubai and Saudi Arabia via acquisitions.

The group via Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd recently acquired a 19.99% stake in China-based Bank of Yingkou Co Ltd.

CIMB group chief executive is Datuk Nazir Razak.

Source: http://biz.thestar.com.my/services/printerfriendly.asp?file=/2008/4/22/b...

Markaz completes structuring of Arbun Call Option

Kuwait Financial Centre 'Markaz' released on 23 April that they developed an Arbun contract, functioning similar to an American option. Kuwait Stock Exchange is trading conventional options since 2005.

The Arbun (downpayment with revocation option) can be both cash and physically settled at anytime on or before the maturity date. The product has been submitted to the Kuwait Stock Exchange for their review and approval.

Mr. Hussein Zeinnedin is Assistant Vice President - Derivatives at Kuwait Financial Centre 'Markaz'.

Source: http://www.ameinfo.com/154396.html

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