Australia / NZ

Melbourne to Host World Ethical Banking Conference

Melbourne has been named as the host of the 2014 ethical bank conference, organised by the Global Alliance of Banking on Values (GABV). The conference will be hosted by Australian owned bankmecu and will be attended by 22 of the world’s leading sustainable banks. bankmecu Managing Director Damien Walsh said that these annual meetings provide an opportunity to discuss the role and responsibilities of banks and how they can contribute to a more sustainable world and a social economy. The carbon neutral event will have the theme of leadership in banking and will be held in March 2014.

Investing in good faith

Talal Yassine, founder of Islamic investment fund Crescent Wealth, believes Australia's Muslim population offers growth potential for sharia-compliant financial products. Crescent Wealth's criteria exclude investing in banks or other financial stocks as well as companies that have investments in alcohol, gambling, pornography, arms or the production of pork. They also consider the companies' debt-to-asset ratio, receivables outstanding and levels of cash or liquid assets. Yassine believes Crescent Wealth will attract funds from the vast Muslim community in Malaysia, Indonesia and, potentially, China.

Islamic fund manager gets hold of a hot property

Trevor Rowe has been appointed to the advisory board of Islamic funds manager Crescent Wealth. Rowe is chairman of BrisConnections, executive chairman of Rothschild Australia and chairman of UGL, among other things. Crescent Wealth managing director Talal Yassine said Rowe had been ''appointed for his experience and ability to offer high-level insight and counsel on strategic opportunities''.

Australia's first issuance of sukuk

SGI-Mitabu, a venture between The Solar Guys International and Mitabu Australia will finance its entire Indonesian solar power project using sharia-compliant financing. The first 50 megawatt (MW) of the 250 MW solar power project will be financed through the issuance of a seven-year A$100 million ($104 million) sukuk in Labuan, Malaysia's offshore financial centre. This will be followed by two more tranches which will be structured as either sukuk or Islamic syndicated loans.

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Outlook & Review 2012/2013

Dear Reader,

Islamic finance had another great year. Many of its market segments progressed, like for example the Sukuk market gaining more maturity. Despite the ongoing debt crisis a good sign of hope and happiness.

Nevertheless we are - as an industry - still not satisfied with the achievements. Islamic finance shall grow stronger in terms of social impact and in terms of substance:

Hence, please allow me to re-iterate my call for participating in international initiatives beyond just our own industry to learn and spread knowledge and experience:

Calling Islamic financial institutions to become member of the United Nations Finance Initiative
http://www.islamicfinance.de/?q=node/811

Inshallah we see more Islamic financial institutions taking a lead in SRI, Social Impact Investing and other approaches while contributing with Islamic finance knowdledge to the conventional industry. The time is now; and there are signs that Malaysia aims for a lead:
http://www.islamicfinance.de/?q=node/4151

Islamic superannuation fund launched

The first superannuation fund that follows Islamic principles has been recently launched in Australia. The issuer of the fund (called "Personal Choice") is the wealth management company Crescent Wealth in cooperation with the Association of Independently Owned Financial Professional's.

Report “Believers in the Boardroom. Religious Organisations and their Shareholder Engagement Practices” by 3IG

The practitioners report “Believers in the Boardroom. Religious Organisations and their Shareholder Engagement Practices” by 3IG is online. Please access the practitioners report by clicking on the following link :

http://issuu.com/3ignet.org/docs/3ig_rse_practitioners_report_final_2012...

The report also remains available as hard copy: http://www.3ignet.org/documents/OrderRSEresearchnow.pdf

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Debt to Equity in Microfinance

Dear Reader,

The issue of debt vs. equity is now going to be increasingly recognised - in microfinance - as I found out today on the cfi blog:

"Debt to Equity. The demand for equity and subordinated debt is huge and continuing to grow, mainly coming from mature MFIs. More MIVs are moving away from debt toward equity, being driven in part by a desire to be more involved in governance, to play a larger role in risk management, and because the regulators are requiring more capital. Also, fund investors increasingly want to know how much of a fund’s return is coming from debt versus equity. Some of the larger DFIs need to disburse large amount of funds, so they have to make debt investments, leaving an unmet demand for equity."

http://cfi-blog.org/2012/11/19/microfinances-new-normal/

An important food for thought beyond microfinance itself in my opinion.

Best regards,

Michael Saleh Gassner

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Why the lack of profit/loss sharing?

Well, repeatedly we read and hear about the lack of profit/loss sharing (equity finance) in Islamic finance. Here my five cents about it:

1) Islamic commercial law, Fiqh Muamalat, per se has no preference of either permissible mode of finance, be it musharaka, ijara or murabaha whatsoever. All is halal. However, the call for modesty of debt in many hadith and the seriousness of being indebted upon death (withholding of death prayer) shows a call for a solid equity portion in business; let's call it a technical preference.

2) If we look up all debt financing modes (e.g.Murabaha, Ijara) there are remaining difficulties to finance wages, rents and installments on fresh debt. This is a true indicator for a required minimum amount of equity in a company.

3) Point 1) and 2) leads us to demand a sound debt/equity ratio.

Islamic finance job openings October 2012

IslamicFinance.de offers an overview about new job openings of October 2012 herewith - firms aiming to be included please send a job profile/hyperlink to newsdesk@islamicfinance.de - the full details of the advert has to be accessed by the hyperlink below the brief description:

Product Manager, Islamic Banking

Standard Chartered Bank - United Arab Emirates-SCB (United Arab Emirates)
Job Description
?Development of Islamic wealth products across CBMS, insurance and investment streams to create customer value proposition.
?Ensure successful implementation of the Islamic banking strategy across high value segment.
?Concentrated responsibility to work with the Priority/Wealth/Private/SME product/frontline teams and support functions to build on the current Islamic banking capabilities and to create seamless customer experience
?Act as a product specialist for RMs on client meetings to introduce and explain the Saadiq solutions to meet their needs
?Financial budgeting and business forecast. Evaluation of financial performance.

Call for Papers: THE NINTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ISLAMIC ECONOMICS AND FINANCE (ICIEF)

THE NINTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON
ISLAMIC ECONOMICS AND FINANCE (ICIEF)
Growth, Equity and Stability: An Islamic Perspective
10-12 September 2013, Istanbul, TURKEY

The Ninth ICIEF at a Glance

Recovery from the global financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn remains fragile. Persistent risks to financial and economic development include sluggish growth in developed countries – which is now spilling over into developing economies as well; increasing income and wealth inequalities; and still-unrestored financial, economic and political stability in many regions. High poverty and unemployment rates, large macroeconomic imbalances, deteriorations in sovereign credibility, increasing food price volatility and food shortages, and lack of access to basic infrastructure further intensify and magnify these risks – particularly for the underprivileged segments of the world population. As a result, for many countries it has become even more challenging to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations.

Crescent Wealth signs partnership deal with BLME

A partnership deal between Australian Islamic wealth manager Crescent Wealth and Bank of London and The Middle East (BLME) was signed. The deal enables Australian retail investors to participate in the Islamic bonds market. The global market for Sukuk is estimated at $150bn. The partnership with BLME marks Australia as a viable growth market for Islamic funds management.

Read more on: http://www.investmenteurope.net/investment-europe/news/2215997/crescent-...

Manager to offer Islamic bonds

Australian investors are expected to involve in one of the most rapidly growing asset classes soon. A new tie-up between Australia's Islamic fund manager and Europe's largest Islamic bank is on the way. According to plan, the Crescent Islamic Cash Management Fund will allocate up to half of its assets to investment-grade sukuk at the beginning of 20113.

Read more on: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wall-street-journal/manager-to-...

Crescent Wealth to launch Australia’s 1st Islamic pension fund

Australian fund manager Crescent Wealth intends the launch of the country’s first Islamic pension fund by December. According to its managing director, between 15 to 30 percent of it shall be allocated in property. The goal is to build the fund to between A$4 billion ($4.03 billion) and A$6 billion in five years. This accomplishment should be possible due to lack of available Shariah-compliant financial products in Australia.

National Australia Bank mulls Sukuk sale

It seems that National Australia Bank (NAB) is taking into consideration a sale of up to $500 million of Sukuk as Australian investors request less risky investments.
According to two people familiar with the deal, the bank is considering the sale, which would make it the first institution to issue Sukuk in Australia.
Crescent Wealth thinks that the investable universe for Islamic funds in Australia is worth between $4 billion and $8 billion, with potential to grow to between $7 billion and $13 billion by 2019.

IIFM and ISDA Launch Mubadalatul Arbaah (MA) Profit Rate Swap (PRS) Product Standard

The International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. (ISDA) are pleased to announce the launch of the ISDA/IIFM Mubadalatul Arbaah (Profit Rate Swap) product standard to be used for Islamic hedging purposes.

The Mubadalatul Arbaah (MA) standard follows on from the “ISDA/IIFM Tahawwut (Hedging) Master Agreement” and provides the industry with a framework for Islamic risk mitigation. The launch of the Tahawwut Master Agreement as the template for Shari’ah-compliant risk management was officially announced at a press conference hosted by Central Bank of Bahrain in March 2010.

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IslamicFinance.de aims to raise USD 2'500 for quarterly running costs

Dear Reader,

IslamicFinance.de is privately funded for many years. Now, for the first time, you have the possibility to make a contribution, from one Dollar upwards!

The technical details, and the money transfer via paypal is organised by Kapipal a new online fundraising tool:

http://www.kapipal.com/islamicfinance

On the blog I gave some more thoughts about Islamic finance media for those interested: http://www.islamicfinance.de/?q=node/3454

Please also note: The fundraising action has a deadline, so act today, not tomorrow and tell your friends about it!

All donors who will leave a message will be listed in the article, which follows after closure of the fundraising period.

I am happy to meet you in person either on 19th March in Milano (http://www.islamicfinance.de/?q=node/3396) or on 10th May in Frankfurt (http://www.islamicfinance.de/?q=BAFINII) at the respective Islamic finance conference.

Wa at Taufiq min Allah, all the best,

Michael Saleh Gassner

Gassner's picture

Islamic finance media - a challenge, and what one could do

Dear Readers,

Islamic finance media are a tricky service. This is true for various reasons: The Internet eats up the revenues, because everything ought to be free. Islamic banks are still a niche phenomena, and international banks like UBS or Deutsche are almost as large as the entire global Islamic finance industry. Consequently the marketing budgets are much lower, too.

Last not least, who should advertise? The banks among themselves or to the clients? Advertising from bank to bank, does usually not make much sense, but real client oriented formats are hard to find, too. May be this is a niche. Others, who could finance Islamic finance media are basically the service providers to the banks, but due to the limited number of Islamic financial insitutions, direct marketing, e.g. face to face meetings will be preferred.

This in short is the background why Islamic finance media are not so well established in terms of journalism and research, but mostly reflecting the press release as criticised by the makers of the Islamic Globe. See: http://www.theislamicglobe.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article...

CALL FOR PAPERS - Islamic capital markets

CALL FOR PAPERS - Islamic capital markets, Deadline: Submission of Abstract: March 15, 2012
Islamic Research and Training Istitute – Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Islamic capital markets are to become an important part of the Islamic financial system. While new products are steadily coming into the market and the Islamic investment instrument are growing, Islamic capital markets still constitute a very small niche. For a discernible impact on the investment promotion, market stability, and equitable socio-economic development there is a growing need to accelerate the process of product development, to create conducive regulatory environment and to improve the market practices. This task requires development of new human capital and knowledge base.

With this larger objective, the immediate focus of this conference is on three issues:
• Design and use of Islamic financial products for Islamic capital markets.
• Identification of the needs for and the implications of market regulations for development of Islamic capital market.

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