Central Asia

Silk Bank to grow in Islamic banking

#Pakistan's Silk Bank plans to expand its Islamic banking business amid growing demand for Shariah-compliant financial products in the country. The State Bank of Pakistan has given approval to the bank for opening of 20 Islamic and 15 conventional branches this year. Silk Bank CEO Shaukat Tarin said the bank was going to reduce the size of corporate banking, but increase consumer and SME segments. The bank’s consumer banking portfolio continued to grow, while its non-performing loans fell by Rs10 billion in January-June 2017. The bank also made its commitment to revive the mortgage business in the current low interest rate environment. Shuja Alvi, head of investment at Silk Bank, said the bank continued to make heavy investments. Since acquisition, the sponsors have invested Rs430 billion in the bank through multiple funding.

Deposits of Islamic banks grow 10pc

The State Bank of #Pakistan (SBP) issued the Islamic Banking Bulletin for April-June. It reveals that deposits of the Islamic banking industry increased by Rs156 billion or 10% quarter-on-quarter to Rs1,720bn. Deposits of the overall banking industry grew 6.5% over the same period. The share of Islamic banks’ deposits in overall banking industry’s deposits increased to 13.7% at the end of June from 13.2% a quarter ago. This growth helped Islamic banks improve their asset base. The share of Islamic banks’ assets in overall banking assets was 11.6pc at the end of June. Investments also improved thanks to sukuk worth Rs71bn that the government issued in June. Net investments of the Islamic banking industry increased Rs48bn or 9.9% in April-June to Rs537bn. SME financing increased to 3.2% and the share of agricultural financing stood at 0.4% at the end of June.

Rise of #Islamic #finance meets #human #capital #gap

The strongly growing popularity of Islamic banking and Islamic finance and its increasing global spread has led to a considerable undersupply of talent in this sector. Both the Middle East and Southeast Asia, but also new regions currently adapting to the alternative finance system such as in Africa and Central Asia are effected.

Estimations are that there is a shortfall of between 8,000 and 10,000 in main Islamic finance fields in Gulf Cooperation Council countries alone, plus more in peripheral sectors such as law and regulatory affairs, financial technology, insurance and others. Altogether, as the industry continues to grow, at least 56,000 people will be needed to serve the Islamic financial sector in the coming years, according to the Finance Accreditation Agency of Malaysia.
“Islamic banking assets in six core markets – Qatar, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the UAE and Turkey – are estimated to reach a combined asset volume of $1.8tn by 2019,” says Dr. Amat Taap Manshor, the FAA’s CEO. “But the human capital meant to support the industry is still in its infancy, and shortages will be felt most acutely in the capital market sector,” he added.

Al Baraka Bank issues Rs1,500m tier-II #Sukuk

Al Baraka Bank Pakistan Limited (ABPL) has announced the successful issuance of its A rated privately placed tier-II Modaraba Sukuk. The Rs 1,500 million Sukuk issue was subscribed by a diversified investor base, in total, a number of 12 institutional investors participated in the issue. The Sukuk has a 7 years tenor, is redeemable at maturity and has a Call Option which is exercisable after 5 years with SBP’s consent. ABPL’s first tier II Sukuk issue of Rs 2,000 million was launched in 2014, as the first of its kind transaction in Pakistan. Speaking on the occasion, Shafqaat Ahmed, CEO of Al Baraka Bank Pakistan, expressed his thanks to all the investors for showing their continued confidence in the bank. He also appreciated the support and guidance extended by the State Bank of Pakistan.

Central Bank of #Iran Assigns #Sukuk Trading to Capital Market

The Central Bank of Iran has stepped in and put a stop to the trading of the so-called Sakhab bonds. Sakhab is one of the many types of debt securities issued by the Irani government meant to clear its debts to contractors. It matures in a year and is priced at 1 million rials ($26.1) per bond. It could only be traded in certain branches of Bank Melli Iran. The new Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, Masoud Karbasian, vowed to stand against the issuance of any bond issued by the government outside the capital market. The government issued 120 trillion rials ($3.13 billion) of Sakhab bonds late March and handed over the secondary trading to the banks. The opaque condition of secondary trading prompted the growth of a black market. Market experts have long raised concerns about a deepening gap between the equity and debt markets and further channeling capital toward low-risk, high-return bonds.

Zaman-Bank becomes #Kazakhstan’s second Islamic Bank

Kazakhstan’s previously commercial Zaman-Bank became an official Islamic bank on Aug. 17. The license from the National Bank of Kazakhstan allows the bank to tap into the Islamic banking sector and makes Zaman-Bank the second Islamic bank in the country. Al Hilal Bank, operating since 2010, had been the country’s only Islamic bank so far. Zaman-Bank is planning to focus on retail banking and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The bank already offers a range of deposit options, including wakala and mudaraba. Head of the Islamic Finance Development Unit, Timur Rustemov, said the bank converted to an Islamic bank, because this sector is still open in Kazakhstan, especially consumer banking. He added that the bank plans to offer Islamic auto finance, Islamic mortgage and a range of products and services for SMEs.

How can Islamic finance benefit #Azerbaijan?

Islamic finance is still a nascent industry in Azerbaijan, even though the country’s large Muslim population indicates great potential demand for its services. The key hurdle that limits any meaningful expansion of Islamic finance in the country is the absence of a comprehensive regulatory framework. It is therefore important to develop a full-fledged legal framework that is specifically tailored for monitoring, guiding, and supervising the Islamic banking system. Islamic finance, as an ethical form of finance, can do an enormous amount of good. Islamic finance forges a closer link between real economic activity that creates value and financial activity that facilitates it. Islamic finance can attract investors from GCC and Asia to Azerbaijan. However, the country continues to face multiple challenges, such as a lack of public awareness and a talent shortage in Islamic finance. Still, favorable regulation remains the key to Islamic finance growth in Azerbaijan.

Islamic Development Bank pledges continuous support to Polio Programme

Pakistan's Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq said the country was highly indebted to the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for its support and acknowledges the critical support of the bank for Polio eradication. The senator was talking to an IDB delegation visiting the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC). The IDB delegation was led by Dr Sadik Mohammad Teyeb, senior health specialist of the bank from Jeddah and Inamullah Khan, Country Representative of the Bank in Pakistan. The current epidemiology in the country is quite promising with only 3 Polio cases reported in 2017 compared to 14 reported by 7th August in 2016. The most significant progress has been made in the core reservoirs of Karachi and Khyber-Peshawar which have not reported any Polio case since January and February 2016.

#Investors #prefer #Shariah-compliant pension #products

The private pension fund industry grew by over 32% during 2016-2017, and the total assets of the industry crossed Rs25 billion. This growth of the industry has primarily resulted from an increase in participation by general investors and better performance of the stock market.
Thereby investors preferred Shariah-compliant pension products over conventional products. Out of Rs25 billion assets of pension funds, over Rs16 rupees comprise of Shariah-compliant securities.
In 2007 private pension funds were introduced. Currently there are 19 pension funds operating in the market, out of which 10 are Shariah compliant and 9 are conventional. These funds are managed by 10 fund managers. The pension funds provide participants investment options in terms of securities and commodities.
Participants can choose retirement age between 60 to 70 years. On retirement, they can withdraw up to 50% of the accumulated balance in lump sum and the remaining 50% in installments, as pension.

Without reforms, #Iranian banking crisis looms

In Iran, concerns are growing that banks may be facing the fate of credit and financial institutions (CFIs) that are on the verge of collapse. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) is under rising pressure from the parliament to immediately regulate these nonbank credit institutions, as an increasing number of depositors protest delays. Now, there are fears that banks could be next. To avoid this scenario, pundits are suggesting that the CBI be granted more autonomy by the parliament so that it will take more serious disciplinary measures. The administration of President Hassan Rouhani has been trying to pass the bill in the parliament, but certain influential bodies have blocked the legislation. The huge government debt is putting excessive pressure on the banking system, but the Iranian public still trusts banks, even as many CFIs have collapsed.

#Kazakhstan, #Malaysia plant seeds for green Islamic finance

Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) has gained the support of technology financier Malaysia Debt Ventures (MDV) to develop both green and Islamic finance in Kazakhstan. Under a newly agreed MoU, AIFC and MDV will work closely with each other to share best practices, expertise and knowledge in these two areas. Apart from sharing knowledge, both parties will also explore financing green projects using Islamic financing tools. While not fully operational yet, AIFC is keeping busy by setting the groundwork. Green finance received a huge boost earlier in January when the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development agreed to launch the Green Financial System for Kazakhstan project, financed by Finland. With eyes on a comprehensive green financial system, engaging MDV could culminate in a variety of Islamic financial products for sustainable eco-friendly projects including green Sukuk.

#Pakistan sets rules for banks wanting to be fully sharia compliant

Pakistan's central bank has issued guidelines for banks that want to be fully-fledged sharia compliant, setting a three-year time frame for applicants to complete the process. The rules aim to accelerate the growth of Islamic banking in the country. Eligible applicants must have existing Islamic finance operations and the conversion process must start within six months of approval. After the conversion of conventional branches, the applicant can then apply for a fully-fledged Islamic banking license. Such conversions are rare in Islamic finance but are seen as a way to increase the scale of the bank and widen its reach into under-served rural areas. Islamic banking in Pakistan currently includes five fully-fledged Islamic banks and 16 conventional banks offering Islamic financial products. As of March, they held assets worth 1.9 trillion rupees ($17.9 billion), a 16% increase from a year earlier and 11.7% of total banking assets. However, their capitalization and profitability ratios remain below the industry average.

IDP and JCSB partner to grow #SME businesses

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and JSCB Microkreditbank Uzbekistan have entered into a Joint Strategic Collaboration to finance SMEs in Uzbekistan. The Line of Financing facility agreement for the amount of USD 12 million was signed by the CEO of ICD, Khaled Al-Aboodi and the Acting Chairman of JSCB Microkreditbank, Shukhrat Rasulov. The collaboration will focus on developing the private sector especially SMEs, improving the living standard, generating tax revenues for the government and promoting Islamic Banking in the country. Khalid Al-Aboodi stated that ICD was pleased to extend a line of financing facility to Microkreditbank which will enhance the impact of socio-economic development. Shukhrat Rasulov welcomed the partnership with ICD and ensured that JSCB was committed to providing professional banking services while promoting private entrepreneurship in the Republic of Uzbekistan.

5 Foreign Banks Licensed by #Iran

The Central Bank of Iran has released the names of 40 registered banks and credit institutions active in the country, which include the names of five foreign banks. The only five foreign lenders licensed to operate in Iran are the Hamburg-based Iranian-European Bank, Standard Chartered, Iran-Venezuela Bi-National Bank, Islamic Cooperation Investment Bank and Future Bank. The Iranian-European Bank has a German license, but is owned by the Iranian state. Standard Chartered is a British multinational banking company headquartered in London. It operates a network of more than 1,200 branches across more than 70 countries. Iran-Venezuela Bank a joint venture between Banco Industrial de Venezuela and the Export Development Bank of Iran. However, Iran is planning to sell some of its shares in IVBB, as the two countries currently have no commercial relations. The Islamic Cooperation Investment Bank is an Iraqi private lender, which currently has 11 branches in Iran. Future Bank is a fully commercial lender approved by the Central Bank of Bahrain, its branch in Iran is located in the Kish Free Trade Zone.

#NBKR and #Islamic Development Bank work on creation of a bank with #Islamic #finance #principles in #Kyrgyzstan

The National Bank of Kyrgyzstan and Islamic Development Bank are working on creating a bank with Islamic finance principles in Kyrgyzstan, according to the chief of NBKR, Mr Tolkunbek Abdygulov.
Abdygulov said in a statement, that developing Islamic finance principles will allow the citizens to use other types of financing, which will increase the competition between banks and thus improve the quality of bank services and bank products. “After entering into force of a new law on National Bank and banking activities, Civil Code will be complemented by regulations on deals according Islamic principles.”

#Dana Gas #venture #seeks #$26.5b damages from #Iraq Kurds

Dana Gas and its partners are looking at recovery for damages of at least $26.5 billion from Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region for all delays in oil and natural gas projects. Dana Gas is based in the UAE and its partners in the venture named Pearl Petroleum, filed a petition in May at a federal court in Washington, DC, seeking “recognition and enforcement” of awards in a London arbitration case. The petition is part of a legal process that may allow Pearl Petroleum to seize Kurdish assets if the Kurds don’t pay awards decided in arbitration.
According to the Kurdish Energie Minister stated, the Kurdistan Regional Government “considers that the claimants’ approach in the arbitration is unconstructive and unnecessarily escalates the dispute. It will continue vigorously to pursue its rights and defend its position in all appropriate forums.”
Dana Gas and partners are pursuing claims in the London Court of International Arbitration against the Kurdish Regional Government for damages related to delays they say were caused by the Government in developing the projects.

#Turkish Banking Team Plans #Iran Visit to Resolve Halkbank Dispute

A delegation from the Central Bank of Turkey will soon meet their Iranian counterparts in Tehran to remove hurdles in the way of bilateral banking relations. Particular difficulties include Iranian citizens' bank accounts in the Turkish Halkbank. The banking ties were overshadowed by the detention of a senior Halkbank official in the US in March for allegedly violating Iran sanctions. Mehmet Hakan Atilla was accused of conspiring with Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, to channel hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system on behalf of Iranian companies. Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci is also scheduled to visit Iran on June 21 to negotiate a preferential trade agreement between the two sides.

Bank Melli Iran Revamping European Branches

Bank Melli Iran (BMI) is planning to overhaul its European branches after clearing the procedures both inside the country and abroad. BMI's director for Foreign Exchange, Gholamreza Panahi, said the bank held negotiations with European officials to enhance its presence in the continent. He added that the bank's Najaf branch in Iraq is also ready to launch and expand the bank's network in East Asia. Panahi said BMI established correspondent relations with 25 foreign banks, which means connecting to a banking network that makes it possible to benefit from their wide range of services. The official also said BMI was the first Iranian bank to be reconnected to Swift, the international interbank messaging network, after the sanctions were lifted in January last year.

#Kuwait's Noor to Weigh Stake Sale of #Pakistan's Meezan Bank

#Kuwait’s Noor Financial Investment is considering the sale of its 49% stake in Pakistan’s largest Islamic lender Meezan Bank. The stake has a market value of about $396 million at the current market price, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Noor Financial hired advisers to assess opportunities, but it has not tasked the consultants with either increasing or decreasing its stake in Meezan Bank. Shares in Noor Financial gained 5.9% by 12:30 p.m. in Safat, Kuwait, the highest since April 16. Meezan advanced 3.6% in Karachi trading to a record high.

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