Asia

EPF to boost #investments in shariah-compliant private equity funds

The #Malaysian Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is prepared to increase its investments in shariah-compliant private equity (PE) funds. Deputy CEO Datuk Mohamad Nasir Ab Latif said the pension fund has not met its full asset allocation target for its PE segment. He noted that the fund allocated 10% to infrastructure and real estate investment, while PE investment currently stood at 4%, adding that there was a shortage of shariah-compliant funds in the domestic and international markets. He said EPF would continue to invest in both shariah-compliant and conventional funds concurrently. For the second quarter ended June 30, 2017, EPF's shariah-compliant savings accounted for RM820.71 million out of RM11.51 billion of its total investment income, while RM10.69 billion was generated from its conventional savings.

CIMB Islamic outlines #growth #plans

In this interview CIMB Islamic Bank CEO Mohamed Rafe Mohamed Haneef talks about the bank's achievements in Malaysia and its growth plans. The most significant segment for CIMB Islamic Bank is retail banking. When Haneef joined the bank, consumer banking’s contribution was between 40 and 45%, while at the end of June it was almost 60%. The bank came up with an embedded model which enables both CIMB Islamic and the conventional side from CIMB Group to tap the same talent. CIMB operates on two separate licences, but out of the same branches, as relationship managers offer both Islamic and conventional banking options. According to Haneef, the bank plans to focus on the Asean region first before eventually building inroads into the Middle East beyond 2018. CIMB Group’s Islamic Asset Management is in close contact with the Securities Commission (SC) and plans to contribute to the development of Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI).

Interview with Mr. Khairul Kamarudin, CEO of Bank Islam #Malaysia Berhad

In this interview Khairul Kamarudin, CEO of Bank Islam Malaysia, talks about his leadership style and areas of focus. Besides sustainability, the other main area of focus will be digitalisation. In 2016 the bank launched the innovative product called 'e-Donation' Terminal using Visa PayWave, a platform where donations can be made through the contactless electronic method using any debit/credit card. Bank Islam has also taken a step towards accepting fintechs with the recent strategic collaboration with Cognizant. This will allow the bank to embark more on innovative digital Islamic banking. In terms of charity, Bank Islam has its own Waqf project in its office building, which provides prayer facilities to more than 3,000 people per week. Also, the bank supports the affordable development project in Selangor and a school-construction project in the state of Perlis.

Cagamas issues country's first dual tranche #sukuk reopening

Cagamas announced its 14th issuance for the year, a three-year, RM1 billion sukuk, which represents Malaysia's first ever dual tranche sukuk reopening. Proceeds from the issuance will be used to fund the purchase of Islamic house financing from the financial system. CEO Datuk Chung Chee Leong noted that the final yield was priced competitively at a spread of 50 basis points over the three-year Government Investment Issue. He said as at September 8, 2017, Cagamas' secondary trading volume stood at over RM5 billion. He added that subscription from foreign-based investors indicates continued confidence in the company. The new issuance will bring the company’s aggregate issuance for the year to RM8.5 billion.

Global #sukuk market to continue upward trajectory, says Islamic finance promotion agency

According to the Malaysian International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC), the global sukuk market is set to continue its upward trajectory in 2017 as the fundamentals supporting their issuance remain intact. MIFC said global sukuk issuances stood at US$59.1 billion as of the first half of 2017 (1H17), an increase of 45.6% compared with 1H16. Malaysia continues to be the main driver in the Islamic capital markets, with the country commanding a 46.4% market share in sukuk issuance. As for outstanding sukuk, Malaysia's share stands at 52.6%. MIFC observed that Malaysia is the pioneer in the world's first green sukuk, as evident by the RM250 million of Islamic bond issued by Tadau Energy. Also, the regulator Securities Commission Malaysia is offering several incentives to attract green issuers including tax deduction on issuance costs, which is valid until the year of assessment 2020.

#China-#UAE moot on Islamic banking, finance explores int’l cooperation in support of #OBOR Initiative

The Dubai Center for Islamic Banking and Finance in Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) concluded the 2nd China-UAE Conference on Islamic Banking and Finance. The two-day event focused on the objectives of the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, which aims to revitalize the Silk Road connecting Asia and Europe. The event was organized in cooperation with China Islamic Finance Club, ZhiShang Intercultural Communication, and Knowledge Partner Thomson Reuters. Talks focused on challenges and prospects for Islamic finance in achieving the goals of the ambitious Chinese initiative. The agenda comprised a series of panel discussions moderated by key international figures such as Prof. Baydoun; Mr. Gao Lin, Vice Director, Shenzhen Municipal Commission of Economy, Trade and Information Technology, and Dr. Adnan Chilwan, CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank.

#Malaysia wins praise for #green #sukuk initiative

The World Bank has praised Malaysia for financing sustainable, climate-resilient growth. Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank regional vice-president for East Asia and Pacific, said Malaysia’s innovative green sukuk initiative would help close the gap for both infrastructure and green finance. In July, Tadau Energy issued the Green SRI Sukuk Tadau, the RM250 million Sustainable Responsible Investment shariah-compliant bond, which holds a tenure of up to 16 years. It will finance a 50-megawatt solar power plant. Kwakwa said the framework underlying this instrument was the result of collaboration between the Securities Commission of Malaysia, the Malaysian Central Bank and the World Bank Group. She said the World Bank issued US$10 billion in bonds through the green bond programme since 2008 and new issuances in the global market are expected to exceed US$120 billion this year.

Hong Leong Islamic lends RM350m to TERAJU

Hong Leong Islamic Bank (HLISB) has pledged RM350 million for the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (TERAJU) via its new Bumiputera companies programme. Of that amount, RM225 million will go to working capital and the balance for asset acquisition. The programme aims to increase Bumiputera SME's participation in the Malaysian economy by enabling small medium enterprises (SMEs) to scale up and compete in the open market. HLISB chief executive officer Jasani Abdullah said the bank targets to provide financing facilities to between 20 and 30 companies annually. He pointed out HLISB would be focusing on industries such as construction and infrastructure, telecommunications, agriculture, manufacturing and green technology sectors. Meanwhile, TERAJU chief executive officer Datuk Husni Salleh said HLISB's participation would assist Bumiputera participants to expand locally and overseas.

#Indonesia, the next big #market for Dubai Islamic Bank?

In this interview Dr. Adnan Chilwan, CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), speaks about the Indonesian market and the positioning of Dubai Islamic Bank. In March 2017 Indonesia’s Bank Panin Syariah rebranded to Panin Dubai Syariah Bank (PDSB) and DIB holds a 40% interest. Dr. Chilwan believes Indonesia has great potential and the regulator is quite supportive of Islamic finance. In his view, the success of DIB is the result of its change in positioning. The bank has not compromised Shari’ah, but has a better understanding of customer needs. DIB is competing with the largest players within every region and is aiming at full inclusion to bank everyone.

Six #Islamic #banks collaborate to develop #waqf #fund

Six Malaysian Islamic banks have agreed to jointly develop a waqf fund which focuses on projects in four areas — economic empowerment, education, health and investment.
The banks are namely: Affin Islamic Bank Bhd, Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd, Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Bhd (Bank Rakyat), Maybank Islamic Bhd and RHB Islamic Bank Bhd . They have signed a Waqf Fund Strategic Collaboration Agreement.

#PNB expanding #Islamic #finance agenda: Wahid Omar

Permodalan Nasional BHD is pushing for much bigger Islamic financial activities in order to turn Malaysia into a centre of global Islamic banking. In an interview to mark his one-year stint in the country’s largest unit trust fund, group chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar explains how PNB and its strategic companies will intensify efforts to boost syariah-based investment and financing products.
Regarding the Islamic finance agenda being so important to PNB it was asked, if it is tied to the government’s objective of making Malaysia the Islamic financial hub of the world.
Mr. Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar answered: „Indeed, if you look at the aspirations of our unitholders, they want syariah-compliant unit trust funds. I think this was why back in 2008, there was a fatwa that investments made in Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd were permissible. This fatwa was issued at the national level and 10 states adopted the fatwa, excluding Selangor and Penang. Over the past year, we had been engaging with the Selangor Mufti Department and based on those engagements, they revised their fatwa positively. So starting from April, investments in ASNB funds are “harus”.

The #continuing allure of #Islamic #finance

The total Islamic finance industry was estimated at around $ 1.9 trillion in assets for the year end of 2016, and it pales into insignificance compared with traditional finance. However of special interest is the growing popularity of Islamic finance from both the Muslim and non-Muslim financial institutions and investors. Islamic assets are very much concentrated in the banking sector which holds $1.5 trillion in total, with the Islamic bonds or sukuks worth $320 billion, and investment funds and insurance or so called takaful worth $56 billion and $25 billion respectively.
The majority are purchase and sale or murabaha and leasing or ijara transactions. Some major Gulf companies are turning to the sukuk market to raise funds, with Saudi Aramco and the Government of Saudi Arabia both successfully launching sukuk tranches which were heavily oversubscribed.

Advancing financial #inclusion for #Indonesian #women

Commonwealth Bank and Mastercard announced a collaboration to better financial inclusion for Indonesian women. This collaboration will have three key pillars: enhancing formal networks by knowledge exchange among women-owned businesses, innovating through new digital learning tools and investing in research. Early in 2017, Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK) released a research showing that Indonesia’s financial literacy and inclusion indices stood at 29.66% and 67.82%. OJK called upon the industry to implement inclusion programmes to achieve their target of 75% for the financial inclusion index by 2019. Commonwealth Bank and Mastercard will help drive the growth of women-owned businesses by educating them about customer and market trends. Additionally, both will invest in research to continue the conversation about financial inclusion.

DFSA pens Hong Kong #fintech innovation deal

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) have signed an agreement to cooperate on Fintech innovation. The two public entities said the agreement will further strengthen the efforts of both authorities to develop an innovation-friendly ecosystem and regulatory environment. This continues a trend by both countries to ink bilateral relationships to boost emerging technology within the financial sector. The agreement was signed in Hong Kong by DFSA chief executive Ian Johnston and Ashley Alder, chief executive of the SFC. This step follows the introduction of regulations formalising a tailored regime for loan and investment crowdfunding platforms earlier this month. It also follows the launch of the FinTech Hive at DIFC and its Innovation Testing Licence (ITL).

BNM to measure VBI adoption in Islamic FIs

Bank Negara #Malaysia is developing a scorecard with Islamic banking players that will measure the adoption of value-based intermediation (VBI) initiative. According to deputy governor Abdul Rasheed Abdul Ghaffour, the VBI marks the next step to realise the full potential of Islamic finance. The VBI Community of Practictioners (COP) includes nine Islamic banking institutions, Bank Islam, Bank Muamalat, CIMB Islamic, Agrobank, HSBC Amanah, Maybank Islamic, AmBank Islamic, Alliance Islamic and Standard Chartered Saadiq. While VBI shares similarities with ethical finance, ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and SRI (sustainable, responsible, impact investing), the distinguishing factor is the Syariah aspect. Business propositions from new sectors such as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would benefit from financial applications based on potential value creation and not just their credit scores.

Digitisation of #Indonesian Banks

Consulting firm Solidiance launched its new report entitled Digital Evolution in Indonesia's Banking Industry. In this report millennials are projected to account for around 58% of Indonesia's total population by 2027. Indonesia has a population of more than 260 million people and only 36% of the population are connected to financial institutions, leaving in the region 150 million citizens unbanked. The report also noted that digitalization helps provide greater opportunities for banks to seize the market share. The market will be soon occupied with digital-native millenials who prefer to use the new channels available them. The Solidiance report estimated the number of Internet users in Indonesia is expected to explode in the coming years from as low as 35% of the population in 2015 to an estimated 68% in 2020.

Islamic finance, a big chance to back SDGs

The #Indonesian National Alms Agency (BAZNAS) agreed to support the widening of electricity access to the poor in Jambi province in July. This marked the first official disbursement of the Islamic zakat fund to support the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Indonesia.

Talent deficit in Islamic finance affects quality #sukuk issuance

The shortage of high-quality sukuk in the Islamic finance market is a result of the deficit in virtuous talent, according to Datuk Mohammad Faiz Azmi, Former Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) president. He also said there was a lack of safe assets at present, leaving issuances by the government always oversubscribed. He added that the opportunity now existed for sukuk issuance from Indonesia, which has a lot of infrastructure plans such as to build more roads, have trains, ports, better airports and others. In a recent Bank Negara strategic paper, the central bank revealed that the annual growth rate of the Islamic finance industry had slowed from 24.2% in 2011 to 8.2% last year. Mohammad Faiz said MIA has launched the Mini Pupillage Programme to create a pool of knowledgeable and specialised talents in the area of Islamic finance.

World Bank sees massive potential in #green #sukuk

The #Malaysian company Tadau Energy became the first entity in the world to issue a green sukuk. Called Green SRI Sukuk Tadau, the RM250 million Sustainable Responsible Investment (SRI) syariah-compliant bond holds a tenure of up to 16 years. RAM Rating Services assigned it a long-term rating of "AA3". The framework underlying the green sukuk’s debut is the result of a collaboration between Bank Negara Malaysia, the Securities Commission (SC) and the World Bank. World Bank country manager Faris Hadad-Zervos called the issuance of the green sukuk a historic event, not just for Malaysia but for the whole world. Faris stressed the creation of the framework was key in making the world’s first SRI sukuk a reality. World Bank financial specialist Jose De Luna Martinez said the Tadau sukuk would potentially lead Malaysia to be a green sukuk hub of the Asean region.

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