Americas

A Bank, a Bankruptcy, and the World of Shariah Law

The $1.6 billion restructuring of Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank B.S.C. has a significance that extends far beyond simply returning value to its creditors. Arcapita was established in 1996 as the world's first Islamic investment bank. This means it had to comply with principles set out by Islamic law. The Chapter 11 restructuring of Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank, led by Gibson Dunn, saw U.S. bankruptcy courts faced for the first time with the world of Shariah law.

Middle East Banks Buy Vast Majority Of Landmark Goldman Sachs Sukuk

Middle Eastern banks bought the vast majority of a debut $500 million sukuk issue by Goldman Sachs, a positive sign for other conventional banks hoping to tap the region’s liquidity by issuing Islamic debt. Goldman priced its five-year sukuk on Tuesday at a profit rate of 2.844 per cent, drawing about $1.5 billion of investor orders, after roadshows in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Middle East investors bought 87 per cent of the Goldman sukuk, while 11 per cent went to Europe and two per cent to Asian investors. Banks bought 77 per cent of the bonds, asset managers bought 22 per cent and private banks bought one per cent. Meanwhile, France’s Societe Generale and Japan’s Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ set up sukuk programmes in Malaysia, but have not issued yet.

Goldman Learns From Debut Flop in Islamic Finance Market

Three years after its first foray into the Islamic capital markets ended without a sale, investors piled in to buy sukuk debt from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US) yesterday. The New York-based lender attracted bids for three times the $500 million of sukuk it sold. The five-year sukuk was priced to yield 90 basis points, or 0.9 percentage point, over the benchmark midswap rate. After failing to sell sukuk bonds in 2011 amid criticism the deal didn’t ensure debt would be traded at par, as required by Islamic law, Goldman adjusted the structure this time in a bid to appeal to more investors. The new issue is a Sukuk al Wakala. Standard & Poor’s rated the issue A-, the seventh-highest investment grade.

New White Paper Outlines Performance of Islamic Investment Strategies

Azzad Asset Management has announced the release of a white paper detailing the impact of Halal investing guidelines on investment performance. Examining historical data over the last two decades, the white paper offers evidence that Shari'ah-screened indices, which favor industries like information technology and health care and exclude financial services, can outperform their broad-based conventional counterparts over the long term. The paper also shows that the most significant divergence between conventional and Shari'ah-screened indices is the almost complete lack of financials in the latter due to the Islamic prohibition on interest. Azzad's findings follow other research indicating that socially responsible investing strategies can deliver competitive risk-adjusted returns over the long run.

New Issue- JANY Sukuk Company prices $500 mln 2019 bond

JANY Sukuk Company Limited priced a bond on Tuesday, with the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc as Guarantor. The Issue Amount is $500 million, its Maturity Date is September 23, 2019. Following are terms and conditions of the bond: Coupon 2.844 pct; Issue price Par; Spread 90 basis points; Underlying govt bond over the midswaps; Payment Date September 23, 2014. Lead Managers are Goldman Sachs International, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, NCB Capital and QInvest. Fitch has assigned a rating of A, and Standard & Poor's A-.

Goldman Sachs sets IPT in 95 bps area over M/S for USD sukuk

Goldman Sachs has set initial price thoughts in the 95 basis points area over midswaps for its debut five-year, benchmark-sized U.S. dollar Islamic bond issue. The investment bank finished two days of investor meetings in the Middle East on Sept. 11. Goldman picked itself, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, QInvest and IPO-NACO.SE to arrange the investor meetings. The sukuk is being issued through a vehicle called JANY Sukuk Co and will be guaranteed by Goldman Sachs. The issue is expected to be rated A-minus by Standard & Poor's and A by Fitch Ratings, identical to the ratings of the investment bank. It will be listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

XL adds fine art and specie to suite of Shariah compliant products

XL Group has extended its support for Shariah compliant managing general agency, Cobalt Underwriting, by adding fine art & specie coverage to its suite of products. The insurer already provides cover for property, construction and financial lines. The coverage, which spans precious metals, cash, fine art and rare collectibles, particularly complements XL Group’s Shariah compliant Financial Lines offering. In practice this means financial institutions and collectors can now buy cover with significant limits for a range of assets and their exposures, including gold and other valuable assets both in situ and transit. XL sees growth in the arts market in the Middle East and Asia with the opening of new galleries.

XL Group Expands Cyber Insurance & Shariah Compliant

XL Group's global and professional unit formed the cyber and technology risk business unit named North America Cyber & Technology Risk business unit, to capitalize on the rising demand for cyber insurance in the U.S. and Canada. Moreover, XL Group has extended its Shariah compliant cover to Financial Lines and entered into a collaboration with Citation Jet Pilots (CJP) in August. The tie-up will provide competitive insurance policies to Citation owners and pilots who finish the safety education seminars. These expansion initiatives are expected to help it in many ways such as strengthening of operational capacity, increasing competitiveness, and increasing the scope for revenue generation.

GFH acquires Texas properties worth $75m

Gulf Finance House has announced the acquisition of two multi-family residential properties in Houston, Texas, as part of the Diversified US Residential Portfolio, which the bank has recently agreed to acquire. The properties — located in Houston, and Atlanta — have an overall occupancy of 94 per cent, and nearly 1,300 apartments. They have been selected due to their proximity to the large infrastructure assets in the cities, and are expected to benefit from the economic recovery in the US. The total size of the assets is $75 million (Dh275.4 million).

Muslim advisors help observant clients invest the Islamic way

Naushad Virji's firm Sharia Portfolio is a financial-planning practice. Virji, CEO of the firm, helps clients to calculate the right amount of their Zakat. He also constructs portfolios of individual stocks, mutual funds and bonds that adhere to Islamic law. And he researches mortgages that don't violate Islam's prohibition against interest and helps clients find suitable investments in their 401(k) plans. When he started his firm in 2003, he reached out to his own network as potential clients and soon found that the Muslims he knew didn't have much experience working with a financial advisor. There are more and more financial options for observant Muslims, choices that didn't exist just a few years ago.

Treasury hits Iran with new, wide-ranging sanctions

The Obama administration unveiled a host of new sanctions Friday against more than 30 companies and individuals doing business in or with Iran, seeking to thwart that nation’s nuclear ambitions, its support for organizations the United States deems as terrorist groups and mute its support for the embattled regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad. The sanctions come at a period where the United States needs Iran’s help in trying to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS). Friday’s additions to the list include more banks, providers of equipment to Iran’s state oil company, banks that help to funnel U.S. currency to Iran’s central bank and transport-related businesses that have helped the Syrian and Iranian governments.

Two HDG Mansur creditors seek liquidation of the firm

A pair of creditors of troubled Indianapolis developer HDG Mansur want a federal bankruptcy court to force the firm into liquidation, claiming it has no hope of reorganizing and is using Chapter 11 as a stall tactic to fend off a $5.8 million judgment. Two affiliates of HDG Mansur, HDG Mansur Investment Services Inc. and HDGM Advisory Services LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. The creditors, KFH Capital Investment Co. and Kuwait Finance House Real Estate Co., on Aug. 14 asked the bankruptcy court to convert the case from a Chapter 11 reorganization to a Chapter 7 liquidation. KFH's court filing requesting liquidation mentions a criminal probe launched by the U.S. Attorney’s office. A trial has been set for Oct. 6.

Gatehouse Bank completes purchase of Marriott Residence Inn, New York

London-based Gatehouse Bank has purchased the leasehold interest in the Marriott Residence Inn ("Residence Inn"), Manhattan, New York for an undisclosed amount. The Bank, assisted by Arch Street Capital Advisors, LLC, has acquired the property in partnership with a US-based hotel operator. The Residence Inn is a 17-storey, recently redeveloped building located on 48th Street in Midtown East, Manhattan. The property features 211 guestrooms of multiple room configurations including studios, suites and a penthouse. All rooms include a fully equipped kitchen. The Residence Inn is an extended stay, select service brand of Marriott International that is among the strongest performing brands under the Marriott umbrella.

The Success of the Peterborough Social Impact Bond

Yesterday, the first results for the Peterborough social impact bond (SIB) were released and the outcomes are promising. Through a program related investment (PRI), The Rockefeller Foundation supported the Peterborough SIB pilot aimed at reducing prisoner recidivism—and now, four years later, we can point to tangible success for this new innovative finance mechanism. The first ever SIB project reduced reoffending by 8.4 percent when compared to a control group. While a reduction of 10 percent was needed to trigger immediate repayment to investors, the performance of this first group indicates that investors are on track to receive positive returns in 2016. If the reduction in reoffending remains above 7.5 percent, the Ministry of Justice will make payments to investors.

Purification Calculator Helps Investors Avoid Unethical Profits

Azzad Asset Management has announced the launch of an online tool intended to help American Muslims observe Halal investing guidelines. Using input provided by shareholders of the Azzad Mutual Funds, an online Purification Calculator will provide a user-specific dollar amount that represents unintentional earnings that were potentially derived from religiously impermissible sources. Purification totals are calculated on a per share basis using Azzad's methodology for calculating unethical income. Azzad advises shareholders to give the indicated amounts to the charity or charities of their choice in order to avoid profiting from any activities deemed potentially harmful to society.

Equity Crowdfunding is in Need of Leadership

The American President's leadership is needed in a matter of removing an ongoing source of inequality which continues to disfigure both democracy and capitalism in America and worldwide. In many ways Crowdfunding is the embodiment of ‘The American Dream’. A dream of independence, self-reliance and freedom, without rules and regulations designed to keep people down. In both the UK and the USA government has expressed it’s explicit approval and support for equity crowdfunding. Yet two years on, in each case, the financial regulator – your SEC and our FCA – have sought to veto the will of the legislature. We need to ensure that the vested interests who prefer the status quo step aside at last and allow ordinary people to participate.

Federated to sub-advise 1st Shari’ah-compliant, US fixed-income fund

Representatives from Azzad Asset Management announced the selection of Federated Investment Management Company as sub-advisor for the Azzad Wise Capital Fund, America's first Halal fixed-income mutual fund. The Federated team has researched and purchased Sukuk, a significant holding in the Azzad Wise Capital Fund, for US and European mutual funds, as well as in separately managed accounts for large pension and institutional clients, said Azzad Senior Investment Strategist Fatima Iqbal. In addition, they have extensive experience managing fixed-income securities, generally. Much of the same analysis will be implemented in their management of the Azzad Wise Capital Fund.

Islamic banking solutions gain ground in US

Muslims in America are becoming a significant demographic force, and with that comes significant votes, which in turn translates into influence wielded in the social world they inhabit. And if Muslims in America today want to see interest payments prohibited on loans, then banks must find alternative ways to do business with them. These banks get around the prohibition of interest on loans by treating loans more like leases or profit-sharing arrangements. Giant financial institutions in the US now have their own Sharia advisory boards, while banks with relatively small assets rely on opinions from the Sharia Advisory Board of America.

Islamic banking solutions gain ground in US

Islamic banks are beginning to make inroads into the banking scene in the US. Chicago-based Devon bank, for example, has transformed itself into an interest-free financing establishment, with Islamic financing accounting for more than 75 percent of the bank's mortgage portfolio. Giant financial institutions in the US now have their own Sharia advisory boards, while banks like Devon Bank in Chicago, with relatively small assets, rely on opinions from the Sharia Advisory Board of America. Muslims in America are becoming a significant demographic force, so Islamic banking is here to stay and offers a lot of potential.

Sharia trial of Iranian billionaire:

An Iranian trial and execution raised questions about corruption at high levels in various countries. Reports said that Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, a billionaire businessman was executed in a prison, North of Tehran for being involved in a $2.6 billion state bank scam, the largest fraud case since 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The public in America, Britain and other European countries reacted with surprisingly many comments on social media platform. They wish such a harsh punishment for their nations in order to deal with corruption amongst politician and businessmen.

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