Central Asia

Persian Gulf Banks Eye Return to Iran Market: Report

Banks from the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait have reportedly spent months drawing up plans for entering the Iranian market. There are certain regional institutions taking legal advice to manage very real risks associated with doing business with Iran, according to Stuart Jones Jr., an executive director at EY. Any re-engagement with Iran will take place in several stages and will require updates to policies, procedures, systems and controls as well as ongoing communication with regulators and correspondent banks, Emirates NBD said, adding it did not currently have any material assets or liabilities in Iran. The Persian Gulf banks are weighing re-entry into the Iranian financial system after it was announced that the implementation of a nuclear deal finalized by Tehran and world powers back in July 2015 has officially been started.

SBP to set up Shariah-compliant open market

The deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan has announced that the bank is setting up a Shariah-compliant open market to manage liquidity of the Islamic banking sector. Deputy Governor, Saeed Ahmed's announcement came on Wednesday as he addressed the global forum on Islamic economics, banking and finance arranged by the University of Management and Technology's Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance. In his speech, he reiterated his bank's commitment to promoting and developing the Islamic banking in Pakistan. The existing banking laws are being amended and soon this process will be finalised, he said. Those who too addressed the forum were Islamic finance scholars Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Justice Khalil-ur-Rehma, among others.

Iranian bank’s frozen assets in Germany unblocked

Abdolnaser Hemmati, the CEO of the National Bank of Iran (known as Bank Melli Iran or BMI), said that frozen assets of the bank at the Deutsche Bundesbank were freed. Following the move, 17 BMI subsidiaries will be able to work abroad. Deutsche Bundesbank authorized BMI’s branch in Hamburg, and the BMI’s Dubai branch has also been freed of transaction barriers previously in place under sanctions. Measures have been taken to launch the London branch of the BMI. Only a UK permit is left to be issued, he added. Mir Business Bank CJSC, a BMI branch in Moscow, can also resume its full operations, according to Hemmati. In one week, all BMI branches abroad will be operational, he stated.

Premier Insurance appoints Usmani as adviser Takaful

Premier Insurance appointed Imran Taqi Usmani as Shari’ah Adviser and Ernst and Young Ford Rhodes Sidat Hyder as Shari’ah Auditor. Premier Insurance, which deals in various conventional insurance products, is offering Shariah compliant products, Takaful. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) enable Takaful business in the country and Premier Insurance offers the various services to clients across all economic sectors and products in all classes of general insurance. Imran Taqi Usmani, son of Justice (r) Taqi Usmani, renowned Islamic scholar holds LLB, MPhil and PhD degrees in Islamic Finance. He also holds an Alamiyya and a Takhassus (Specialisation in Islamic Jurisprudence) from Jamia Darul-Uloom, Karachi.

Iran to get $32 bln of unfrozen assets after sanctions end

Iran will receive $32 billion of unfrozen assets after sanctions were lifted in a deal with world powers over its nuclear programme, Iranian central bank chief Valiollah Seif said Tuesday. Seif was quoted as saying that $28 billion (25.8 billion euros) would go to the central bank and $4 billion will be transferred to the state treasury as the share of the government. The unfreezing of assets comes after the U.N. atomic watchdog confirmed at the weekend that Iran had complied with measures imposed by the deal with global powers reached in Vienna in July. The central bank plans to keep the funds in centralized and safe accounts abroad, he added.

UN Security Council removes Iranian bank from sanction list

The United Nations Security Council announced on Sunday that it has removed Iranian Bank Sepah and its international subsidiary from a sanctions list. This move came after Saturday's announcement of a UN report confirming that Iran has completed necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of a plan of action aiming to resolve the nuclear issue. Bank Sepah had been under a Council-mandated asset freeze since 2007. It provides support for the Aerospace Industries Organisation (AIO) and subordinates, including Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG) and Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group (SBIG), according to the UN website.

Jura Announces Entering Into Of Secured Long Term Syndicated Islamic Facility

Jura Energy Corporation has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Spud Energy Pty Limited ("SEPL"), has entered into a secured long term syndicated financing arrangement totalling Pakistan Rupees ("PKR") 750 million (US$7,153,500) effective December 18, 2015. The syndicate is comprised of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) Limited ("ABPL"), the lead arranger and JS Bank Limited ("JSBL"), a related party of Jura, with participation of PKR 500 million and PKR 250 million respectively. The Facility will carry a mark-up at the rate of 3-month Karachi Inter Bank Offered Rate ("KIBOR") (6.48% using the State Bank of Pakistan posted rate on December 29, 2015) plus 2.75%, maturing five years from the date of disbursement.

MoU between Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and OJSC Agroinvestbank of the Republic of Tajikistan

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private sector (ICD) and OJSC Agroinvestbank of the Republic of Tajikistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation to consider extension of a Line of Financing facility to OJSC Agroinvestbank as part of the country programme allocation of USD 25 million for the Republic of Tajikistan. The Line of Financing facility will be extended by OJSC Agroinvestbank to the SMEs sector to project's in industrial, communication, technology, health, construction and agricultural sectors. Previously ICD extended a total of USD 11.5 million Line of Financing facility for the development of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tajikistan which demonstrates ICD’s firm commitment to develop the private sector in its member countries.

Islamic Development Bank supports polio elimination with $90 million grant

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) recently granted $90 million in funds to help Pakistan implement the latest step of its polio elimination program through 2018. The IDB previously promised $227 million so that Pakistan could implement various disease elimination programs until 2015. In the past year, approximately 80 percent of the world’s wild poliovirus cases were located in Pakistan. A report from the World Health Organization showed serious vaccination gaps inside South Waziristan, Peshawar, Khyber Agency, northern Sindh, Karachi, and regions in Balochistan. For Pakistan and Afghanistan to eliminate polio, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative requires that health officials step up their efforts to stop the virus from transmitting from person to person.

ICD has big plans for SMEs, says CEO

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and OJSC Agroinvestbank of the Republic of Tajikistan have signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation to consider extension of a line of financing facility to OJSC Agroinvestbank as part of the country program allocation of $25 million for Tajikistan. The line of financing facility will be extended by OJSC Agroinvestbank to the SMEs sector to project’s in industrial, communication, technology, health, construction and agricultural sectors. Khaled Al-Aboodi, CEO and general manager of ICD, said the SME sector is important in all the member countries, including the higher income ones. ICD is now focusing on this sector by extending lines of finance to local banks in addition to the establishment of ASR Leasing Company in Tajikistan.

Meezan Bank, EFU join hands for Takaful coverage

Meezan Bank and EFU General Insurance Limited have joined hands for Takaful Coverage of Car Ijarah vehicles. As per the agreement, EFU Takaful will provide coverage to the vehicles leased by Meezan Bank through its Shariah-compliant car financing service Car Ijarah. The MoU was signed by Ariful Islam, Deputy CEO, Meezan Bank and Mr. Hasan Ali Abdullah, Managing Director, EFU General Insurance Limited Window Takaful Operations, at Meezan Bank’s Head Office, Karachi. Irfan Siddiqui, President & CEO of Meezan Bank was also present at the occasion.

ADB to explore chances in Islamic Financing

Country Director Asian Development Bank (ADB) Werner Leipach, said that ADB was planning to explore opportunities of co-financing from new sources through Islamic Financing and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The AIIB assistance will be sought for the M4 Project, Shorkot-Khanewal Section, near the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Leipach mentioned that ADB’s total co-financing for Pakistan stood around $1050 million including $400 million grant commitments from DIFD. ADB has also provided trade finance support for the private sector investments to the tune of $95 million.

IMF update on Afghan financial sector, Islamic banking regulations coming

As part of its review of the economic outlook for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the International Monetary Fund said financial intermediation in the country needs to become more efficient and broad-based. The IMF noted that the authorities expect that credit availability should increase from its low base, though they recognize that the low private credit reflects the scarcity of profitable and appropriately collateralized lending opportunities and structural challenges. The authorities wish to promote lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and agriculture while developing microfinance to support growth and job creation.

Kazakhstan studies lower capital requirements for Islamic banks

Kazakhstan's central bank is considering halving the capital requirement for Islamic banks to 5 billion tenge ($16.3 million) from 10 billion tenge, part of a series of initiatives to attract foreign capital to Central Asia's largest economy. The majority Muslim state is keen to develop Islamic finance, according to a Thomson Reuters study released on Tuesday. A proposed reduction in capital requirements for Islamic banks would apply for both local and foreign investors, deputy governor Nurlan Kussainov was quoted as saying in the study. This could encourage new entrants in a market that now has one full-fledged Islamic bank, Al Hilal Islamic Bank.

Latest Thomson Reuters, IRTI And CIBAFI Report Suggests Kazakhstan Well Under Way To Building Islamic Finance Economy

Thomson Reuters, the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) and the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) have launched a new report analysing the state of Islamic Finance in Kazakhstan titled “a future perspective of Islamic finance”. The report, produced in partnership with the National Bank of Kazakhstan, was launched during a dedicated Roundtable on Islamic finance emerging markets, ahead of the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) in Manama, Bahrain. The report predicts a positive economic outlook for Kazakhstan, with an estimated GDP growth of 2.4% in 2016.

Standard Chartered sets up Shariah advisory board

Standard Chartered Pakistan has established a Shariah board to help guide the bank's transactions in accordance with the principles of Shariah. This board has been formed in compliance with the Shariah Governance Framework and from the directives of State Bank of Pakistan. The members are: Sheikh Nizam Yaquby (Chairman), Mufti Muhammad Abdul Mubeen, Mufti Irshad Ahmad Aijaz and Mufti Muhammad Abdullah. Through liasing with the board of directors and senior management of the bank, the Shariah board shall ensure Shariah compliance as per regulatory requirements. The board would also endeavour to provide guidelines for devising new products and services.

Interest-based lending: Drive needed to create awareness of Islamic alternatives

Even some prominent scholars are of the view that while charging interest is not permitted in Islam, paying interest on loans is not impermissible. This is a view that demands an analysis from both an intellectual and economic perspective. A scholar argues that those who pay interest do not fall under the category of those who “eat others’ property unjustly” and that they must not also be deemed as “cooperating” in dealing in interest. The Prophetic tradition also prohibits cooperation in matters related to interest-based business. According to the scholar, the payer of interest does not “eat others’ property unjustly.” Hence, he does not commit any sin when he pays interest. This is a flawed argument, as interest-based transactions are by their very nature cooperative in nature.

Xinhua Insight: China changes tactics in financial fight against poverty

Zhang Xiangyin still remembers the day his daughter-in-law left home three years ago, leaving her 33-day-old son. She could no longer bear living entrenched in poverty in their mountain village.
Zhang, a 58-year-old farmer in Bijie City of southwest China's Guizhou Province, knows exactly what poverty means. With two daughters, who got married and moved away and his son in the coastal Shenzhen City as a migrant worker, the baby boy was left to the elderly couple.
But two 11-month-old Simmental cows he bought with a 24,000-yuan (3,762 U.S. dollars) government loan this September are expected to change his fate.
"The cows will give birth soon and are likely to have four calves within three years, which would produce 40,000 yuan in revenue," said Zhang.
After four years, Zhang expects between 20,000 to 30,000 yuan in net profits with newborn calves, which would lift him out of poverty.
In the past, Zhang was too poor to think of raising cows. A cow costs 12,000 yuan in the local market while Zhang's annual income was just a tenth of that, relying on a tiny plot of corn and potato crops.

Kazakhstan set for debut sovereign sukuk in early 2016

Kazakhstan's parliament has approved legislative amendments to facilitate Islamic finance, paving the way for Central Asia's largest economy to issue its first sovereign sukuk next year, a government official said.
The amendments, which still require the president's signature, would also allow for the conversion of conventional banks into Islamic ones, said Yerlan Baidaulet, an adviser to the Investments and Development Ministry.

«We expect the sovereign sukuk in early spring of next year. Probably in March, it depends on the decision of the Ministry of Finance as it has its own budgetary process», Baidaulet said on the sidelines of an industry conference in Kuwait. The legal amendments to the banking services and securities laws are the latest steps by the majority Muslim state to help develop Islamic finance. A dedicated Islamic banking law is also currently in preparation, Baidaulet said. Lawmakers have also passed a law to establish an offshore centre in the capital Astana, which is partly aimed at attracting Islamic finance business, he added.

Russian financiers focus on ethical finance

The leading Russian companies consider Islamic finance as a new and effective source of capital attraction. The issue of forming a collaboration with the Middle East and Southeast Asia capital markets will be discussed at the debate seminar of the Russian finance directors’ club.
The financiers of the largest Russian companies such as Vnesheconombank, Rosselkhozbank, Rosevrobank, SIBUR holding, the RUSSIAN INVESTMENT SOCIETY, VTB Capital Investment Management, Svyaztransneft, Inteco, Promsvyazkapital, Far East energy Management Company, INTERAVIAGAZ and others have confirmed their participation in the conventional meeting.
The key topic of the seminar – «Crisis – it is time to make an important decisions. TODAY IS TOO EARLY, TOMORROW WILL BE TOO LATE». The discussions will also touch on the issues of economic situation and risks assessment, forecasts, collaboration with banks, financing import from the West Europe with the assistance of the export and credit agency. The first Vice-President of the Russian finance directors’ club Tamara Kasyanova, who is in the top 100 of the Russian economy and finance experts, will hold the seminar.

Syndicate content