Central Asia

Islamic Development Bank Group wants to invest to Kazakhstan

The Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB) announced its intention to invest into four new EXPO-2017-oriented projects in Kazakhstan in 2014 through the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). ICD, Baiterek Holding and LGK Holdings signed a memorandum to create the Central Asian Fund of Renewable Energy with the initial capital of $50 million. Moreover, ICD is going to cooperate with the Investment Fund of Kazakhstan in the development of float-glass production in southern Kazakhstan, a project worth$200 million. Besides, ICD will provide $10 million for procurement of manufacturing lines and raw materials during the first year of a new Aluminum Extrusion Plant's operations. ICD has also achieved an agreement with OLZHA Holding to cooperate in the construction of a grain terminal and elevator western Kazakhstan. The construction is expected to begin this summer.

Iran’s Bank Mellat to claim $820m from Britain

Iran's Bank Mellat seeks to file a claim of at least 500 million pounds (USD 820 million) in compensation against the British government for loss of business caused by illegal sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear energy program. It is the first time that an Iranian lawsuit over sanctions has reached the stage of claiming compensation. On June 19, 2013, Britain’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling against Bank Mellat over its alleged links to Tehran's nuclear energy program. The European Union General Court decided in January to quash sanctions imposed against Bank Mellat in July 2010.

Roundtable conference :Dar for further Islamisation of banking, finance

Federal Finance Minister of Pakistan Ishaq Dar Wednesday urged to further push the process of Islamisation of banking and finance in the country at the roundtable conference on ‘Potential of Islamic banking in Pakistan’. He said that a committee had already been constituted on the subject with a fairly broad mandate assigned for the realisation of its cherished goal. The committee which would suggest a road map and timeframe for progression of various phases of Islamic banking in the country by December 31, 2014, has initially set the following key areas of investigations: removal of all difficulties being faced by the existing Islamic financial institutions in the operations vis-à-vis conventional institutions and design of new products that may enable government to conduct its resource mobilisation operations through Shariah compliant methods.

The fall and rise of Islamic Finance

In Pakistan, Mudaraba companies and Mudarabas (Non-Banking Islamic financial institutions (NBIFIs)) attracted the major business groups of the country since the early 80s. The Mudaraba sector recorded rapid growth until 1996, when the fall back of NBIFIs began and the country witnessed a large number of closures and mergers during the next fifteen years. This left many of doubts and questions as to the future, viability and adoptability of Islamic finance. The causes of failure can be categorized into seven M's: management, money, major defaults manipulation, mismatch, moral hazards and monitoring. However, most of the national NBIFIs managed to survive and generate lucrative profits for their investors, which shows that it was not failure of the Islamic financial system rather a failure of the management.

Iran to assemble group for arresting ex-head of Bank Melli Iran

A special group of police officers will be assembled and sent to Canada for searching and arresting the former head of Bank Melli Iran, Mahmoud Reza Khavari. Since Canadian officials haven't found Khavari yet, Iranian police are asking for one week in order to search for him in Canada. The fraud case originally started in 2007 and involved the use of fraudulent documents to obtain credit for an investment company. Khavari, as the head of Bank Melli Iran, was reportedly involved in the fraud case. However, Khavari escaped to Canada. Iran requested Interpol to announce an international search for him. In June of 2012, Fars news agency reported that Interpol placed Khavari on its Red Notice Wanted list.

Unwinding sanctions against Iran will be ‘tough and complex’

Under an interim deal between world powers and Iran last month, the Islamic republic agreed to freeze part of its nuclear programme in return for modest relief from sanctions. The unwinding of sanctions in the Iranian context will prove quite challenging and difficult in part because as the sanctions have grown over time, they’ve been layered with elements of sanctions building on themselves. The issue of sanctions with Iran have not just been about nuclear issues but also about human rights, support to president Bashar Al Assad in Syria, support to Hizbollah, support to Iraqi militias. Under the interim sanctions deal, the Obama administration has estimated that the sanctions relief will be worth US$6 billion to $7bn. Banking and oil sanctions will remain in place while negotiators attempt to reach a permanent deal over the next six months.

Pak-Qatar Family Takaful

Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Limited is a progressive and a technology-driven Shari'ah Compliant company providing Takaful solutions in Pakistan. Beginning operations in 2007, the company has an independent Shari'ah Advisory Board chaired by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani which certifies all products and operations for Shari'ah compliance. The company is rated A (having Stable Outlook) by JCR-VIS Credit Rating Co Ltd. The paid-up capital of Pak-Qatar Family is in excess of Rs 700 million. Pak-Qatar General Takaful Limited is chaired by Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah al-Thani and sponsored by several financial institutions form the State of Qatar. The company is present in all major cities of Pakistan, and is on track to further expanding its branch network.

Cursory look at Islamic banking

The Pakistani Islamic Banking Industry (IBI) is in a nascent stage compared to the rest of the world, but has shown constant growth in the past years. Islamic Banks (IB) hold a lion-share of 64 percent in the IBIs total assets. In terms of share, IBs contribute only 30 percent to the IBIs total advances, the rest being provided by the Islamic Banking Divisions (IBDs), i.e. conventional banks offering Islamic banking. IBDs are more efficient in recovering their loans with their infection ratio clocking in at just 1 percent of their advances. Conversely, full-fledged Islamic banks have an infection ratio of 8 percent. With the growing competition in the Islamic banking industry, the Islamic banks must rethink their asset deployment strategy, which is currently more inclined towards Investments. SME and agriculture sectors which are untapped thus far could be the potential avenues to hit.

Pakistan sets up Islamic banking committee to expand activity

Pakistan's Ministry of Finance has set up a committee to explore areas to promote Islamic banking in the nation, including studying converting conventional banks into sharia-compliant ones. Regulators in Pakistan are rolling out a range of initiatives, such as a media awareness campaign, to expand Islamic banks' share of the total banking sector to 15 percent by 2017. The committee will submit recommendations on 10 areas by December 2014, including legal obstacles to converting banks into Islamic ones and changes required to remove those obstacles. Other tasks for the committee include formulating a comprehensive policy framework and timeframes for the industry's progression. The commitee comprises scholars and regulators as well as bankers.

EU to Maintain Sanctions on Most Iran Firms

The European Union will maintain sanctions against all but two Iranian firms that won challenges to the bloc's sanctions regime in EU courts in September. The EU will on Wednesday formally announce it is maintaining sanctions against almost all the firms by "re-listing" them for new sanctions breaches. The EU hopes that by re-listing companies and providing additional evidence, it can secure its Iran sanctions regimefor the foreseeable future.

Vision Holdings to acquire shares of Meezan Bank

Vision Financial Holdings Limited has shown its intention to acquire 49.11 percent or 492 million shares of Meezan Bank Limited (MEBL), subject to the approval of regulatory authorities. The terms of transaction are yet to be known; however, initial estimates suggest that the deal is likely to settle at a price of Rs47-50/share at premium of 25-30 percent at the current market price. The total size of the deal will be between $214 and $230 million. Interestingly, Noor Financials Investment Limited currently holds 49.11 percent share of Meezan Bank, which is the same proportion required by the acquirer. Therefore, probability of share transfer between the two parties is high. Meezan Bank Limited is currently trading at 136 percent premium to its book value.

Islamic insurance rules: Takaful firms to withdraw petition against SECP

General and family Takaful companies are soon going to withdraw their constitutional petition against the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), 23 conventional insurance companies and the federation of Pakistan after a prolonged fight with the regulator to restrict competition in the Islamic insurance industry. Takaful operators are said to have struck a deal with their conventional insurance counterparts, which will allow the latter to run Shariah-compliant insurance business through parallel window operations. Some of the biggest players, including State Life, EFU Life, Jubilee Life and Adamjee Life are reported to be eager to launch their Islamic window operations. In fact, some of these companies have vowed publicly to launch window operations within three months of the lifting of the SHC’s restraining order.

ADB sees prospects for Islamic finance

Asia needs to invest about $8 trillion in overall national infrastructure, the use of cross-border financing and investment through Islamic finance will help to widen the investor base and lower the cost of financing for well-structured investments, the Asian Development Bank said. In recent years, Islamic finance has been enjoying growth rates of 20 per cent a year, most of which comes from Asia. Increased activity is expected in Thailand, China, Bangladesh and India as well as more traditional market such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan. The conference on Islamic Finance for Asia, opening in Manila on Monday, aims to create greater awareness on the potentials and opportunities brought about by Islamic finance to the region.

Gassner's picture

Venture Capital the Islamic ideal?

Dear Readers,

Venture Capital has often been regarded as the ideal tool for Islamic finance, particpating in profits and losses of innnovative companies.

Now a major assessment has been done by Cambridge Associates in terms of performance, comparing it to the wider stock market. Result: No outperformance. Considering the lack of liqudity it seems to be much less attractive to professional investors than thought.

See: http://www.cambridgeassociates.com/pdf/Venture%20Capital%20Index.pdf

The lack of success also is induced by lack of transparency and fee models taking away the eventual outperformance. This is for the US market of course. Experiences in less advanced markets could be better or even much worse.

It still has other benefits, as diversifying risk, promoting overall growth and eventuall fostering social benefits.

In order to protect the investor, proper disclosures must be integrated to grow this industry in a healty manner. Further the focus on impact investing will ensure that value is created and risk better managed. What impact investing means could be read here:

See: http://www.thegiin.org/cgi-bin/iowa/home/index.html

EU lifts sanctions against Iran Insurance Company

The European Union has lifted sanctions against Iran Insurance Company following defense presented by the corporation, its Managing Director Javad Sahamian said. The sanctions caused that letters of credit guaranteed by the company were refused by others, but after ease of sanctions the company can work actively in insuring LCs in areas such as freight. Sahamian said the corporation has managed to control sanctions considerably to prevent any great loss and pave the way for more growth.

Bank Islami to issue rights shares

Bank Islami Pakistan Limited has planned to issue rights shares up to Rs750 million, as the exemption granted by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for minimum capital requirement (MCR) expired on March 31. The SBP had declined to extend the extension unless Bank Islami improves its equity position substantially. The board of the bank will consider the rights issue at the board meeting scheduled on October 31, where the price of the right shares will be decided. The SBP through a circular increased the MCR for banks up to Rs10 billion to be achieved in a phased manner by December 31. Moreover, the central bank had also advised the bank to submit concrete time bound capital plan by March 31, 2013 to comply with the future and prevailing regulatory capital requirements.

Iranian bankers look to Rouhani reforms to save industry

Bankers in Iran are hoping that new President Hasan Rouhani will reform the banking industry, which is saddled with dangerous levels of bad debts. A veteran of the Iranian banking sector said that at least 50 per cent of the financial institutions do not deserve to be saved. Over the past eight years both public and private banks have run up huge amounts of bad debt. These are now putting a heavy strain on the government's shrinking financial resources as it protects the most indebted players from bankruptcy. Bad debts in the banking system are estimated to average about 20 per cent, with big institutions Bank Saderat and Bank Melli in the worst positions. Interest rates on deposits will need to rise in order to combat inflation and absorb excess liquidity in the economy. Rates were raised in 2012 to 21 per cent for the same reason, but to little effect, and the cost of funding for banks is high.

BankIslami stays in green—only just

Pakistani BankIslami more than offset the negative effect of discount rate cuts by an growth of 24 percent and 72 percent in its investments and financing, respectively. However, the costly fixed deposits drove up the bank’s mark-up expenses squeezing its spread ratio to 40 percent in 1H CY13 from 43 percent in the corresponding period of last year. Moreover, During 1H CY13, the non-performing loans (NPLs) swelled by 31 percent year on year. Resultantly, provisioning expenses mushroomed by more than four times in 1H CY13. Besides, the bank has been working aggressively to enhance its branch network which piled up bank’s non-mark-up expenses. Whether or not, BIPL enjoys the discount rate hikes will largely depend on how it works on is to improve its CASA (low-cost deposits) and curb its surging NPLs.

Hemmati named as new governor of Bank Melli Iran

Abdonnaser Hemmati has been elected by the board of directors of Bank Melli Iran as the bank’s new governor, replacing Farshad Heidari. Heidari had been appointed as the governor of the bank after Mahmoud Reza Khavari, its former governor, fled to Canada after a $2.6 billion financial fraud case was uncovered in 2011. Economy minister Ali Tayyebnia is scheduled to officially install Hemmati at the post by Friday. Hemmati has served as the managing director of Sina Bank and the chairman of Iran’s Central Insurance Company.

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