Bahrain

Family Bank in #Bahrain opens Seef headquarters

Bahrain's Family Bank has opened its new headquarters in the Diplomatic Area of Manama. The ceremony was attended by the bank’s board members, chief executives of contributing banks and economic personalities. The establishment of the Family Bank as a first social bank in Bahrain in 2010 aimed to boost the social security network by the activation of a micro loan-giving mechanism. The bank was set up through partnership between the Labour and Social Development Ministry, the Royal Charity Organisation, the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (BBK), Ithmaar Bank, Ahli United Bank and Kuwait Finance House (KFH). It won Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s award for supporting youth projects in 2013.

Al Baraka celebrates Art Week in headquarters with an Art Exhibition by employees

Al Baraka Islamic Bank organized an art exhibition for talented employees of the Bank as well as for the staff of Al Baraka Banking Group. The Art exhibition took place on 28th January 2020 at the Al Baraka Headquarters in Bahrain Bay. Al Baraka Group President Mr. Adnan Ahmed Yousif said the exhibition aimed to explore the historical legacies of Bahrain, from traditional crafts, industry and pop culture to modernism’s forms, including art and architecture there by encouraging the talented employees. He further stated that some of the paintings would be selected for use in the Group’s calendars and greeting cards.

Al Salam Bank offers exclusive financing for Saraya Al Reem villas

Al Salam Bank-Bahrain signed a memorandum of understanding with Al Saraya Properties Company to offer an exclusive financing facility for customers purchasing villas in the new Saraya Al Reem 3 development. The bank's property finance scheme is available to all customers, including Bahraini nationals eligible for Mazaya social housing.

#Kuwait's KFH plans to drop assets of about 100 million dinars this year - CEO

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) plans to shed assets worth about 100 million dinars ($329.5 million) in 2020 as it finalises the acquisition of Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank. KFH has sold assets worth 137 million dinars in 2019 and achieved a profit of 40.1 million dinars. Kuwait's largest Islamic bank registered a net profit of 60.5 million dinars in the fourth quarter last year, up from 58.3 million one year earlier. After the acquisition of Ahli United Bank, the new entity will have assets of $101 billion and shareholder equity of $10.5 billion, with an annual forecast profit of $1.5 billion. This merger will be the Gulf’s first major cross-border bank merger in recent years.

Kuwait Finance House Shareholders Give Green Card to AUB’s Acquisition

Kuwait Finance House has affirmed plans to purchase Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank. The merger can possibly become the Gulf’s sixth-biggest lender with $101 billion in assets. Reaching the value of about $101 billion, the acquisition will generate the largest Islamic banking entity in the world in terms of assets. Based on its past performance, the annual forecast profit of the merger is $1.5 billion. The shareholder equity of the new entity will be $10.5 billion. Besides Kuwait Finance House, Dubai Islamic Bank in the UAE has also received shareholders’ approval for purchasing Noor Bank via capital increase and share swap. The merger will potentially be valued at AED 275 billion.

NBB acquires 78.8% stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank

The National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) has acquired a 78.8% controlling stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB). The offer which initially opened on 18 December 2019 was launched by NBB in a bid to develop its Islamic banking activities. NBB’s CEO Jean-Christophe Durand said that the two banks would remain independent and BisB would remain listed on Bahrain Bourse. The Islamic bank will continue to operate under its normal course of business as well as maintain its operations as a subsidiary of NBB. The settlement of the offer is expected to take place on 22 January 2020.

#Bahrain's GFH hires banks to market five-year dollar #sukuk

Bahrain-based GFH Financial Group has hired Societe Generale and Standard Chartered to act as global coordinators and joint lead managers for the issuance of five-year dollar sukuk, The banks will market the bonds through a series of meetings starting on Jan. 15 in Asia, the United Arab Emirates and London. Emirates NBD Capital, KAMCO Investment, Mashreqbank, SHUAA Capital and Warba Bank will also serve as joint lead managers.

#Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat hires banks for dollar #sukuk

#Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat has hired banks to arrange fixed income investor meetings ahead of a potential issue of U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk. The fund has picked Citi, Gulf International Bank, HSBC, National Bank of Bahrain and Standard Chartered for meetings in London, Asia and the Middle East. The deal could be the first international debt sale by a Gulf borrower this year. Mumtalakat raised $600 million in sukuk last year, having obtained orders of around $4 billion for the debt sale.

IIRA reaffirms GFH Financial Group’s BB / B fiduciary ratings

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed its 'BB/B' international scale ratings at GFH Financial Group (GFH), with a stable outlook. GFH's key business lines include investment banking, real estate development as well as the recently expanded treasury and proprietary investments and commercial banking undertaken through its 55.4% holding of Bahrain-based Khaleeji Commercial Bank. The group’s capital adequacy ratio reduced to 14.5% in Q3 2019, remains comfortably above the Central Bank of Bahrain minimum of 12.5%. The bank’s cost rationalisation measures among other strategies are expected to result in boosting of profitability over the coming periods.

'$5trln needed annually to achieve Sustainable Development Goals'

According to UN resident co-ordinator and UN Secretary General’s representative in Bahrain Amin El Sharkawi, the world needs financing of about $5 trillion each year to make the necessary progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Discussions are on to set up a Bahrain-UN trust fund where banks can contribute to projects that focus on education, health coverage, access to energy, social housing and environmental protection. Mr El Sharkawi was speaking on the sidelines of the first General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI)-United Nations joint forum themed The Role of Islamic Finance in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals: Opportunities and Challenges. The first day of the forum was concluded with the third session titled Zakat and Waqf as Tools for Financial Inclusion and Shared Prosperity.

Al Salam Bank-Seychelles appoints Chairman

Al Salam Bank-Seychelles (ASBS) has announced the appointment of Alhur Mohammed Al Suwaidi as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Al Suwaidi currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and brings over 15 years of experience in investment strategy to the role. Mr. Al Suwaidi also serves with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, where he has held various positions since 2004. Mr. Al Suwaidi has also served on a number of advisory boards of General Partners. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Chapman University, California, USA.

#Bahrain's GFH Financial Group launches $200 million schools investment arm

GFH Financial Group, the Bahrain-based Islamic investment bank, plans to invest $200 million (Dh734m) in the privately-owned schools sector through its new investment platform, Britus Education. Developed and emerging markets have both seen a surge in private education during the last decade. Britus Education will invest in mid-market schools that can be improved through maximising student capacity, improving academic outcomes and optimising fee structures. According to a report published by Alpen Capital, the total number of students in GCC schools is set to grow at a compound annual rate of 2.3% per year to reach 14.5 million in 2022. Enrolment in private schools is expected to grow at a compound rate of 4.1% per year until 2022, much faster than the 1.3% growth anticipated for public schools.

#China-#Bahrain venture fund targets Middle East tech market

China’s MSA Capital and Al Salam Bank-Bahrain launched a $50 million venture capital fund to invest in sectors such as e-commerce and financial technology in the Middle East. The fund also plans to target big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and logistics and networking systems. The $50 million MEC Ventures was raised from seed money, Chinese entrepreneurs and institutional investors and family offices from Gulf Cooperation Council countries. MSA Capital has existing investments in Chinese entrepreneurs who have taken the Chinese model into the MENA region.

National Bank of #Bahrain offers to acquire Bahrain Islamic Bank

The National Bank of Bahrain, which owns a 29% stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB), has made an offer to acquire the entire Islamic lender. Lower oil prices over the past five years are forcing Gulf lenders to consolidate for scale and to better compete in a crowded market. Subdued credit growth, competition for deposits, higher cost of funds and deteriorating asset quality are driving consolidation in the regional banking sector. In the UAE, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank merged with Union National Bank and the combined entity acquired Al Hilal Bank, creating a banking group with AED 423 billion in assets in May 2019. Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, National Commercial Bank is in the process of merging with Riyad Bank to create the Gulf’s third-largest lender with $193 billion in assets.

Region’s P2P lending platform Beehive funds first SME in #Bahrain

Beehive, the region’s first regulated peer-to-peer lending platform has funded its first SME in Bahrain. The funding was granted to Bahrain-based Mira Packaging Factory, which manufactures disposable cups in addition to other food packaging solutions for the GCC, and the African F&B industry. Mira Packaging Factory has a large customer base in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the regional neighbouring countries. This includes international airlines, global HORECA brands and local coffee concepts. Beehive CEO Craig Moore confirmed Mira Packaging Factory's eligibility for peer-to-peer finance after Beehive’s thorough credit assessment, which determines the company’s ability to repay the loan and provide excellent returns to its global investors.

Boards of Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank agree terms of possible #merger

The boards of Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank agreed on a share swap ratio. AUB said its board approved a final exchange ratio between the two lenders of one KFH share for every 2.325581 AUB shares. A final decision on the deal is subject to approval from shareholders of both banks, central banks and other authorities in Kuwait and Bahrain. The approved ratio is the same as the one announced in January, when the lenders hired HSBC and Credit Suisse as advisers to carry out financial and legal due diligence of each other’s accounts. According to equity analysts Mohamad Al Hajj and Elena Sanchez-Cabezudo, this merger would increase KFH’s expected weight within MSCI Emerging Market Index by 8 basis points and increase expected flows in May 2020 by $370 million. KFH has tried to acquire AUB in the past, but talks stalled over a difference in valuation.

Kuwait Finance House launches open banking

Kuwait Finance House-Bahrain (KFH-Bahrain) has announced going live with advanced open banking infrastructure, which will allow it to partner with innovative fintech firms. The kingdom is one of the earliest global adopters of mandatory open banking, putting it at the vanguard of customer-driven change in financial services. KFH-Bahrain is one of the first banks to integrate a fintech through the launch of its KFH Jazeel banking platform in partnership with Tarabut Gateway, a subsidiary of Almoayed Technologies. According to KFH-Bahrain executive manager Mohammed Fahmi Hamad, open banking will allow bank account holders to consent to sharing details of their accounts and payments history to licensed third-party providers to make more aware financial decisions. In addition to that, customers will soon be able to link their accounts to independent licensed applications.

IIRA reaffirms credit ratings of Al Baraka Banking Grp, upgrades its Fiduciary Score to highest among Islamic financial institutions in region

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed the international scale credit ratings assigned to Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) at BBB+ / A3 . IIRA also reaffirmed the national scale ratings of ABG at A+ (bh) / A2 (bh) with a Stable outlook. The Group’s fiduciary score has also been raised to the higher level of “81-85”, the highest among the Islamic Financial Institutions in the region. IIRA recognized the substantial contribution of the Group’s four key subsidiary banks based in Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Algeria. Moreover, IIRA said that the Group benefits from a wide geographic diversification with most jurisdictions possessing a low economic correlation, thereby improving the overall risk metrics.

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.

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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