UAE

Sharjah Islamic Bank issues #Sukuk to raise $72.47m

Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) has successfully completed the issuance of Dh266.8 million worth of Sukuk convertible into equity of the bank to the Sharjah Social Security Fund (SSSF). SIB chairman Abdul Rahman Al Owais announced that income generated from the bank’s dividends will be used for uplifting social activities in the emirate. The Ruler of Sharjah nominated an entity engaged in endowment activities to subscribe to Sukuk equal to 10% of SIB’s capital and converting it into equity for the bank at a nominal value of Dh1 each. Al Owais expects that the capitalisation ratios will be strengthened by around 100 bps with the issuance of this capital. He added that by virtue of this exercise, SIB’s shared capital has increased from Dh2,668,050,000 to Dh2,934,855,000.

MAG Lifestyle Development to accept Sharia-compliant OGC for #property

#UAE-based MAG Lifestyle Development has announced that it will accept OneGramCoin (OGC) as payment for real estate it sells. This move offers real estate investors an opportunity to utilize their digital assets while also welcoming OGC into the mainstream with a practical application in the property sphere. Bitcoin and other digital currencies are struggling to enter the mainstream in the Middle East, where the fundamentally speculative and high-risk character of cryptocurrencies does not go with the local investment culture. As the first Islamic Sharia-sanctioned digital currency, OGC is entering to fill this void. Each OGC is supported by a gram of gold, something that makes sure the cryptocurrency stays capitalized and stable. According to MAG, trade will go live in June 2018. Investors will buy OGC to the price of the property and get a 5% discount on the property cost consequently. OGC will then go to MAG based on the payment plan, which is 35% over six to nine months and 65% on completion at 2019’s end.

A #bond dispute threatens the future of Islamic finance

Dana Gas stocks rose by 13.2% on Christmas Day 2017, to complete a buoyant six months for the stock. This may be due to the company's arbitration victory against the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan, over $2bn it and its consortium partners are owed in overdue payments. It also hints at shareholders’ belief that Dana will not be forced soon to satisfy its own creditors. The firm refused to honour its $700m sukuk bond claiming that it no longer complied with sharia law, therefore was 'unlawful' in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In November a British court ruled that the company had to pay. The judges said that, because the bond was issued under English law, it had to be viewed on its merits under that law alone. The risk of non-compliance in the UAE, they argued, must fall squarely on Dana. The Islamic-finance industry cheered this ruling. However, to get hold of Dana’s domestic assets, creditors need a new ruling from the UAE courts. The Dana saga is a reminder not just that Islamic finance still lacks shared standards, but also that court judgments help creditors only when they are enforceable.

Islamic #insurers to #refocus on profitable segments

Improving insurance profitability is expected to result in Islamic insurance players refocusing their sectors. According to Moody’s analyst Mohammad Ali Londe, the motor and medical insurance sector have benefited most from the recent premium rate increases in Saudi Arabia and UAE. Therefore, Moody's expects Takaful operators to refocus their underwriting and servicing operations on these lines. Previously, weak underwriting results in the core medical and motor lines forced Takaful insurers to widen their product offerings. GCC Takaful insurers’ results for the first nine months of 2017 reveal that underwriting profitability has improved in most countries. In UAE, motor premium rates rose in 2017 as a result of the country’s new unified motor policy which provides standardised coverages. The improvement in Takaful insurers’ underwriting profitability has started to reverse the previous deterioration in their capital adequacy.

Islamic #insurance #merger creates #UAE giant

Takaful Emarat has agreed to acquire Al Hilal Takaful from Al Hilal Bank. The all-cash transaction will create the largest Islamic insurer in the UAE. The move is viewed as part of a consolidation drive in the Gulf’s takaful sector to offset weak profitability. Mohammad Al-Hawari, managing director of Takaful Emarat, said the deal would drive growth through a wider range of takaful services and a larger customer base. The merger is subject to full regulatory approvals and is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2018. The transfer of Al Hilal Takaful’s ownership to Takaful Emarat will have no impact on current takaful policies, contracts, claims settlements or the writing of new insurance business.

Dubai: MAG to sell #property via Sharia-compliant OneGram

Dubai's MAG Lifestyle Development will offer customers the opportunity to purchase properties using OneGram, the first Sharia-compliant crypto-currency. Talal Moafaq Al Gaddah, CEO of MAG Lifestyle Development stated that customers will benefit from the growing potential of crypto-currencies with OneGram. Each OneGram Coin (OGC) is backed by a gram of gold, which ensures that it remains a fully capitalised and stable digital currency. In compliance with Islamic Sharia law, it is also zero interest, profit-loss sharing, and non-speculative as it is pegged to gold. OneGram is also simple to buy and trade and will go live in June 2018. Mohammed Ibraheem Khan, co-founder of OneGram said this was the first real-world application for OneGram and the company was proud to be taking this step with MAG Lifestyle Development.

Dana Gas says appeal against BlackRock joining #sukuk trial rejected

The English Court of Appeal has refused Dana Gas' appeal against fund manager BlackRock to participate in English court proceedings. Dana is refusing to redeem its $700 million outstanding sukuk on the grounds that they are no longer sharia-compliant and therefore unlawful in the United Arab Emirates. Courts in both Britain and the UAE are hearing the case. On November 17 the English High Court ruled in favour of the sukuk holders. Dana plans to set aside this judgement on the grounds that the company was not permitted to represent itself in court. Regardless of the result of that application, additional legal proceedings in England are expected.

MIDEAST DEBT - #Sukuk documents seek to reassure investors after Dana Gas scare

Sukuk issuers are changing the language in documentation for new issues to reassure investors after Dana Gas refused to redeem $700 million of maturing sukuk. Dana Gas said it would not repay sukuk maturing in October because changes in the interpretation of Islamic finance had made the bonds unlawful in the UAE. Issuers are now amending their documentation to preclude the use of this argument. According to Mohamed Damak, global head of Islamic finance at Standard & Poor's, clauses seeking to reduce sharia compliance risk have become normal in the global industry, but the complexity of sukuk makes it difficult to remove the risk entirely. According to Mohammed Khnifer, senior associate at the Islamic Development Bank, sukuk holders and issuers will now rely more on English law and avoid local laws with dollar-denominated issuance.

Dubai's Emirates REIT gives initial price guidance for 5-yr dollar #sukuk - lead

Dubai's Emirates REIT has given initial price guidance in the low-to-mid 5% for its debut U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk. The issuance of the sukuk is expected to be of benchmark size, which conventionally means the higher side of $500 million. The senior unsecured deal, with an expected BB+ rating by Fitch, will price later in the day.

How loyal are Islamic banking customers?

Islamic banking is a growing industry, however still much smaller than conventional finance, even in Muslim majority nations. In the UAE, 76% of residents are Muslim, yet Islamic banks only hold 19% of banking assets. The question is: why would Muslims choose conventional banks when Halal options are available? Research has found that the chief reason was a better rate of return. A recent study shows that 25% of Islamic banking customers preferred conventional banks and products when interest rates were the same. When conventional banks offer 1% better interest rates, the share that would switch to conventional banks rose from 25% to 44%. About 25% of Islamic banking customers came to it because of their employers, while 35% use both Islamic and conventional banks. A group of about 40% of Islamic banking customers are truly loyal to Islamic banking, most likely for religious reasons.

Dana Gas says #UAE court allows it to appeal British #sukuk ruling

Dana Gas announced it will appeal against a British court’s ruling on its $700 million sukuk, after a UAE court lifted an injunction preventing it from participating in the British proceedings. Dana previously said the sukuk was invalid under UAE law and refused to repay holders of the sukuk which matured at the end of October. The energy producer sought a declaration on the sukuk’s lawfulness at courts in the UAE and Britain. Last month, a British court ruled in favour of Dana creditors, deciding the purchase undertaking was valid and enforceable. Dana has said it aimed to appeal against the ruling because it could not take part in proceedings. A hearing in Sharjah on the validity of the sukuk under UAE law is scheduled for Dec. 25.

#UAE #Islamic #banking #assets #surge 6% to $146bln in 10 months

Assets of the Islamic banks operating within the UAE totalled to 535 billion AED by the end of last month. That is around 6% growth since the beginning of this year. And it accounts for 20.2% of the total banking assets in the country. These are valued at around 2.639 trillion AED during the first 10 months of 2017, according to figures of the UAE Central Bank.
This obvious growth in Sharia-compliant financial operations in the UAE mirror the significant development of these kind of banking products which have been enjoying impressive growth across the whole region in the last few years.

According to Central Bank figures, the value of credit provided by the Islamic Banks since the beginning of 2017 until October surged to 361 billion AED, a growth of 7.7% against that of December 2016.
Loans and credit facilities provided by Islamic banks make up 22.8% of total loans provided by the entire banking system in the UAE, valued at 1.584 trillion AED by the end of last month.

Digitisation, it’s all in the family

Emirates Islamic is targeting balance sheet growth and improved profitability along with digitisation. According to Deputy CEO Wasim Saifi, these objectives are complementary. The speedier technology adoption comes naturally due to the bank's close links with Emirates NBD, a technology leader in consumer banking in the UAE. As a subsidiary of Emirates NBD, it has access to all the innovations the parent company adopts. Emirates Islamic has upgraded its core banking platform and introduced an improved mobile banking app with 25 new services. Emirates Islamic is the first and only Islamic Bank in the UAE to support both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. As part of the new product roll out, the bank has launched QuickRemit to India and will launch the service to Pakistan and other remittance corridors soon.

MoU signed to support creation of #Sukuk sector in #Kenya

Nasdaq Dubai and the Nairobi Securities Exchange have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate the creation of a Sukuk sector in Kenya. The MoU was signed in Dubai by Hamed Ali, CEO of Nasdaq Dubai, and Geoffrey Odundo, CEO of the Nairobi Securities Exchange. Hamed Ali assured that by cooperating and sharing expertise, the two Exchanges will provide powerful support for the growth of Islamic finance in Kenya. Geoffrey Odundo said the development of the Islamic capital markets can provide significant support for funding national development while strengthening international relationships. Other recent steps for the sector include a Sukuk transaction on Nasdaq Dubai’s Murabahah financing platform carried out by the Africa Finance Corporation.

The Sharia-compliant #gold standard - one year on

Interest in gold has soared since the Shariah standard for gold was introduced almost a year ago. The standard was approved as a collaboration between the Bahrain based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and The World Gold Council (WGC) in London. Natalie Dempster, managing director at the WGC, says a number of existing gold products have now been certified as Shariah compliant and are being marketed as such. Several new regionally issued products are also under development. Adopting a Shariah standard has implications not just for the Muslim world but the UAE itself. Dubai in particular is rising as a purchase and investment destination. This has led to the emergence of institutions such as Noor Bank, Regal Assets and others that will buy and store bullion on behalf of clients from around the world.

Dubai's Emirates REIT to meet investors ahead of debut dollar #sukuk - lead

Emirates REIT will hold fixed income investor meetings until Dec. 1 ahead of a debut dollar-denominated five-year sukuk sale. The issuance is expected to range between $350 million and $425 million. The company has mandated Standard Chartered as sole global coordinator, and Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, Standard Chartered and Warba Bank as joint lead managers and bookrunners to arrange the meetings ahead of the planned issuance.

Fidor Expands Middle East Africa Regional Hub in Dubai Silicon Oasis

Fidor Solutions has opened its newest office in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSOA), the integrated free zone technology park. DSOA's Deputy CEO, Juma Al Matrooshi and Fidor's Founder Matthias Kröner led the inauguration of Fidor’s regional headquarters in the presence of senior officials. Fidor is committed to contributing to the region’s growth by helping strengthen the fintech community and support the region’s economy through local employment and new talent searches. Commenting on the expansion, Matthias Kröner said Dubai was the natural next step for Fidor, especially because of the region’s growth within ecommerce, payments and its overall digitisation. Juma Al Matrooshi congratulated Fidor on expanding its regional presence in the Middle East and assured that the digital banking provider will significantly benefit from this location.

Dana Gas seen returning to table after London ruling

Dana Gas plans to appeal the UK court ruling on $700mn of its outstanding sukuk. According to Dana Gas, the decision by the London court is flawed because the UAE-based company was barred from participating in the proceedings due to an injunction at home. Judge George Leggatt said the English law contracts are enforceable in the case. Dana was challenging a provision called purchase undertaking, which allowed the trustee on behalf of investors to force Dana to buy them out of the agreement at par. Dana shares fell as much as 5.6% on the Abu Dhabi stock market on Sunday. The court ruling puts investors one step closer to resolving a dispute over the sukuk that highlighted one of the Islamic finance industry’s weak spots.

Noor Bank to move away from unsecured small business lending- CEO

UAE's Noor Bank is to move away from unsecured lending to small and medium-sized enterprises. CEO John Iossifidis said the bank was not turning its back on that sector, but it’s certainly not going to be the unfettered lending that was happening two years ago in the banking sector. Other local banks have already taken steps to cut their exposure to the SME sector. Noor Bank also intends to diversify its corporate loan book. In its retail business, the bank aims to shift its focus more towards affluent consumer clients by raising the minimum salary threshold for customers. Iossifidis said the bank had a 7% market share in the UAE mortgage market, giving it an advantage in capturing greater market share in the affluent market.

Dubai investors digest implications for #sukuk market after Dana Gas ruling

A High Court judge in London ruled in favour of creditors in a case regarding the validity of the purchase undertaking for about $700 million of sukuk issued by Dana Gas. The idea that Dana Gas has been able to assert for the past five months that its own sukuk were non-sharia-compliant has struck many observers as unusual. Judge George Leggatt said that Dana Gas' challenges to the validity and enforceability of the purchase undertaking were unfounded and declared the purchase undertaking for Dana's sukuk as valid and enforceable.

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