Saudi Arabia

SAMA fines 16 financial institutions for violating principles of responsible finance

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has fined 16 financial institutions for violating principles of responsible finance and has instructed them to correct the violations. SAMA stated that the fines were imposed in order to implement principles of justice and transparency without providing details of the fines. The central bank fined some of the Kingdom’s major financial institutions such as Al-Rajhi Bank, Al-Ahli Bank, Saudi Fransi Bank as well as Al-Riyad Bank, Al-Jazira Bank and Dubai-based Emirates NBD Bank. SAMA said that the fines were imposed to ensure fairness and competitiveness of financiers.

Goldman Sachs brings forward claim linked to Saudi debt saga

Goldman Sachs has bought forward a claim against Bahrain’s TIBC whose default 10 years ago triggered the biggest financial crisis in Saudi Arabia. The Bahraini lender raised money in international markets, transferring the funds to now defaulted Saudi conglomerate Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers (AHAB). After TIBC defaulted on a foreign exchange deal, AHAB collapsed along with another Saudi conglomerate Saad Group, leaving an estimated $22 billion in unpaid debts. TIBC, administered by the Central Bank of Bahrain, has a claim of around $3 billion against AHAB, while more than 60 banks that have lent money to TIBC remain unpaid.

Dar Al Arkan set to redeem $400m Islamic bond

Saudi Arabia’s Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company aims to redeem its $400-million sukuk by using internal cash reserves. The sukuk, listed on Irish Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Dubai, is set to mature on May 28, 2019. Over the last decade, Dar Al Arkan has issued nine international sukuks and post redemption of 2019 sukuk and Dar will continue to have $1 billion of sukuks. CEO Andy Raheja said that Dar Al Arkan had cash and cash equivalents near SR5 billion. Given the strong free cash flow conversion, the company sees no immediate need to issue any new Sukuks for the foreseeable future.

#Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank to boost mortgage #lending

Al Rajhi Bank aims to boost mortgage lending as more affordable housing comes on the market. CEO Steve Bertamini said the bank's mortgage book grew 27% year-on-year in 2018 and it is looking for double digit growth for the next two to three years. Al Rajhi, which has traditionally focused on consumer banking, has been expanding its exposure to the private sector. It also sees opportunities in project finance as public-private partnership contracts for water and renewable energy start to be awarded. Saudi Arabia's economy grew in the fourth quarter of last year at its fastest rate since early 2016 due to an expanding oil sector. Fourth-quarter gross domestic product grew by 3.59% from a year earlier.

#Saudi Arabia sells 4 billion riyals of domestic #sukuk

Saudi Arabia's finance ministry sold 4.0 billion riyals ($1.1 billion) of domestic Islamic bonds in its monthly auction. The issuance is actually a re-opening of the issue originally made in July. The ministry sold 2.25 billion riyals of five-year sukuk, 500 million riyals of seven-year and 1.25 billion riyals of 10-year, bringing the total issue size to 7.465 billion riyals.

Hill International to Provide Project Management for Bank Aljazira Project, Supporting #Saudi Arabia National Vision 2030

Hill International has received a three-year contract from Bank Aljazira to provide project management services for Aljazira’s Regional Management Office Building in Riyadh. The project will be one of Riyadh’s landmarks, reflecting Bank Aljazira’s image and its alignment with the Saudi Arabia National Vision 2030. The project location is planned to be north of the Capital, in the center of new major developments for the next 20 years. Hill International provides program management, project management, construction management and other consulting services to clients in a variety of market sectors. According to Engineering News-Record magazine, Hill International is the eighth-largest construction management firm in the United States.

#Saudi’s Al Rajhi Bank says expat exodus could impact its remittance business

Al Rajhi Bank expects low-single digit loan growth for the rest of 2018 as it curtails its loans while economic reforms take shape. A plan to reduce reliance on expatriates to generate jobs for Saudis has seen the number of foreign workers fall by more than 700,000 since last year. Al Rajhi's CEO Steve Bertamini said the expatriate exodus might have some impact on its remittance business. The bank has already seen an overall rise in banking for women and car loans for women have begun to rise substantially from a low base. Bertamini said that their entry into the workforce will mean more demand for accounts, loans and saving products.

Mortgages set to boost lending at #Saudi banking giant Al Rajhi

A jump in mortgages and a recovery in Saudi Arabia’s economy may help Al Rajhi Bank to reverse a decline in lending. According to CEO Steve Bertamini, higher government spending and faster economic growth amid higher oil prices should help the revival. Home loans have risen as much as 6% this year and there are 450,000 Saudis eligible to purchase a home under one of the government programs. Saudi Arabia’s new housing project announced in February includes an 18 billion riyal ($4.8 billion) loan-guarantee program to boost access to funding and 12.5 billion riyals to support down-payments. Al Rajhi Bank in July reported an 18% rise in second-quarter profit to 2.57 billion riyals. According to Bloomberg economists, Saudi Arabia’s economic expansion will accelerate to 1.6% this year from 0.9% in 2017.

#Saudi refinance firm mulls #Sukuk issuance to fund mortgage drive

The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC) plans to begin issuing sukuk in late September or early October 2018. SRC aims to refinance 20% of Saudi Arabia's primary home loans market, which authorities hope to expand to SAR 500 billion by 2020. Currently Saudi Arabia’s primary home loans stands at SAR 290 billion. Fabrice Susini, CEO of Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company, said that the company will now begin issuing Sukuk to raise money, first in Saudi riyals but eventually in foreign currencies. The company was founded in 2017 by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and has so far operated with financing from the sovereign wealth fund and short-term deals with banks.

Saudi-based ITFC, Federated Investors to launch $300 mln trade finance #fund

The Saudi-based International Islamic Trade Finance Corp (ITFC) plans to launch a $300 million fund alongside U.S. fund manager Federated Investors. The sharia-compliant fund is expected to launch later this year and would invest in energy-related structured trade, supply chain financing and project finance assets of sovereign entities. The fund will be managed by ITFC with input from Federated Investors. The two firms have worked together on Islamic trade finance transactions since 2014.

#Saudi Arabia’s first #sukuk issuance through primary dealers positive for Islamic capital market development

Saudi Arabia announced the completion of its first sukuk issuance under the primary dealers program. The Saudi government has been a regular issuer of Islamic bonds since the Ministry of Finance established a Saudi riyal-denominated sukuk program last year. In the new primary-dealer system, the Saudi debt management office appointed five local banks to act as primary dealers for local government securities, namely National Commercial Bank, Samba Financial Group, Saudi British Bank, Bank Al-Jazira and Alinma Bank. The appointed primary dealers purchase sukuk sold at auction directly from the government and later place these securities in the secondary market for final investors, acting as market makers for government securities. The government expects that the primary-dealers scheme will develop the local government sukuk market and the debt capital markets in Saudi Arabia.

New Saudi bankruptcy law 'tries to find balance' between investor and creditor interest

Saudi Arabia’s new bankruptcy law will come into effect in late August and aims to attract foreign and domestic investment in private businesses. The new law is designed to outline bankruptcy proceedings and will offer protection to creditors and embattled companies seeking to conduct their affairs without fear of asset seizure. According to lawyer Dario Najm, an associate in Ahmad bin Hezeem & Associates, the new law allows indebted corporations to maintain their operations while gradually settling their debts. Creditors and debtors will enter into agreements on debt payment schedules. When implemented, the law will be the sole regulation covering bankruptcy, effectively replacing previous rules passed in 1996.

Blockchain platform-as-a-service for Islamic finance launched

Blockchain experts ArabianChain Technology and Curiositas will offer blockchain-based smart contracts and legal automation for Islamic finance products. The 'Wethaq' platform is targeting Islamic capital markets, acting as a platform-as-a-service for financial institutions, fundraisers and investors to use in the trading of sukuk products. Wethaq is expected to see issuance of its first Smart Ijara in the first half of 2019. The joint venture will combine Curiositas' legal automation and financial engineering expertise with ArabianChain's Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Protocol and smart contracts. According to Dimitrios Vourakis, Managing Director of Curiositas, Wethaq separates the essential structuring services provided by financial institutions from additional services such as custodianship and payments, and offers the latter on its automated platform.

#Saudi securities regulator awards first two #fintech licences

Saudi Arabia's securities regulator approved its first two financial technology licences on Tuesday. The Capital Market Authority (CMA) approved licences allowing Manafa Capital and Scopeer to offer crowdfunding investment services on a trial basis. Individual investors will use electronic platforms operated by the companies to fund small and medium-sized enterprises in exchange for shares in those enterprises. The CMA said it would receive applications for more fintech licences later this year. The Saudi central bank has also thrown its weight behind fintech, as it signed a deal with U.S.-based Ripple in February this year.

Franklin Templeton #funds awarded QFI status in Saudi Arabia

Franklin Templeton is evaluating opportunities to expand its Shariah business, which grew 32 percent in 2017. Franklin Templeton funds have become Qualified Foreign Investors (QFI) in Saudi Arabia, allowing the funds to invest directly in the kingdom’s stock market, it was announced on Monday. Sandeep Singh, Franklin Templeton’s regional head of Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa and head of Islamic Business said, that they operated in the Middle East and North Africa for almost 20 years and that they will remain dedicated to growing their business alongside the region’s growth.

#Saudi Arabia's #Sukuk selling crosses SAR 3.95 bn

Saudi Arabia's finance ministry sold 3.95 billion riyals (USD1.05 billion) of domestic Sukuk in its monthly sale by re-opening an issue originally made last month. It sold 3.35 billion riyals of five-year Sukuk, 350 million riyals of seven-year and 250 million riyals of 10-year. Last month, the ministry sold 5.0 billion riyals of domestic Sukuk.

Gulf Capital Acquires Strategic Stake in #Saudi Arabia #Fintech Geidea

Asset management firm Gulf Capital has acquired a strategic stake in Saudi Arabian fintech company, Geidea. According to Gulf Capital, this deal with Geidea is the largest acquisition in the Saudi Fintech sector. Geidea was founded in 2008 and is the official distributor of Verifone and a payment solution company. Gulf Capital also reported that this deal is its fifth investment in the technology sector and is part of its efforts to develop the payment and digital financial transaction sector in the GCC. Dr. Karim El Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, stated that this partnership was paving the way to adopt Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and move towards a cashless society.

SEDCO Holding Group Signs a Partnership Agreement with Saudi British Bank

SEDCO Holding Group signed a partnership agreement with the Saudi British Bank (SABB), for its Riyali Financial Literacy Program. The agreement was signed by Hasan Al Jabri, CEO of SEDCO Holding Group, and Naif Alabdulkareem, General Manager Retail Banking at SABB. The Riyali Financial Literacy Program attained the Ministry of Education’s endorsement to roll out the program in grade school as well as universities. The program aims to educate future generations on the importance and benefits of financial awareness. The program has already reached more than 400,000 beneficiaries and aims to reach 2 million beneficiaries by 2020.

Bidaya’s first #Sukuk issuance successful

Bidaya Home Finance has successfully closed its inaugural Sukuk issuance under the recently established SR500 Million Sukuk Issuance Programme. The total amount raised in relation to the Series 1 Sukuk was SR250 Million. Bidaya's CEO Mazin Al Ghunaim said this was a landmark transaction since Bidaya was the first housing finance company in Saudi Arabia to issue a Sukuk. Ashmore Investment Saudi Arabia acted as the Arranger with respect to the Sukuk Programme issuance, while Albilad Capital acted as the Dealer. Bidaya's Sukuk Programme is aimed at maximizing the utilization of capital markets, resulting in the diversification of the company's funding sources.

#Saudi issues new Islamic bond to finance budget

Saudi Arabia has completed the issuance of a new sukuk sale to help finance its budget deficit. The Kingdom raised $1.3 billion from the sale of sukuks in three tranches maturing in five, seven and 10 years. This was the second sukuk sale this year following a $4.8-billion issue it completed last month. The government debt level, both domestic and international, rose from 1.6% of gross domestic product in 2014 to 17.3 of GDP last year reaching $118 billion. During the same period, the government has drawn down some $245 billion from its fiscal reserves. Oil income made up more than 90% of public revenues before oil began to slide.

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