Central Asia

The Islamic Development Bank and the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan are planning to launch a joint Islamic bank in the republic

The head of National Bank of Kyrgyzstan Tolkunbek Abdygulov and the president of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani had discussed the prospects of jointly opening an Islamic bank in Kyrgyzstan.
Additionally, they had talked about the other relevant things such as the perspectives of Kyrgyz Republic economy development, the establishment of a joint Shariyah compliant commercial bank and the possibility of opening an IDB representative office in Kyrgyzstan. The discussion took place during the International Financial conference “Islamic Finance: Meeting Global Aspirations” in Kuwait, on November 11, 2015.

Tolkunbek Abdygulov also had a meeting with Christine Lagarde, the Managing director of the International Monetary Fund, in which they discussed further course of cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and the IMF and drew a plan on joint actions during the financial crisis. Ms Lagarde also noted the concerted actions of Kyrgyztan’s National Bank and the government on monetary and fiscal policies.

PIA closes over-subscribed structured syndicated Islamic facility

Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIA) recently announced the successful closure of its US$ 120,000,000 Secured Syndicated Islamic Facility.
Citibank and Mashreq Bank PSC acted as joint initial mandated lead arrangers, bookrunners and coordinators for the facility. The transaction received an overwhelming response from the market and was over-subscribed.
The syndicate comprised of a diverse set of banks spread across GCC and South Asia. The participating banks included Askari Bank Limited, National Bank of Pakistan, Noor Bank PJSC, United Bank Limited and Warba Bank KSCP as mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad as lead arranger and Bank Alfalah Limited as arranger. This transaction once again reiterates the multitude of synergies developing between the Middle East and Pakistan.
The facility carries a tenor of three years and will be utilized to support the Company’s ongoing strategic growth plans and general corporate purposes.

JP Morgan clients buy into Islami Bank

JP Morgan's clients have bought around 3 % shares of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd or IBBL over the past several years, officials said. The US-based banking firm bought the shares for its institutional and indi-vidual investors. The shareholding empowers JP Morgan to hold a post in IBBL's board of directors as the law allows a shareholder to become a director in a publicly-listed company in Bangladesh with a stake of 2 %.
“The market plunge that began in December 2010 in Bangladesh has attracted foreign investors to buy IBBL shares,” MA Mannan, managing director of IBBL, told The Daily Star.
“JP Morgan's investment in IBBL shares reflects our strength.”
The current market price of IBBL's total shares stands at Tk 4,508 crore -- at over Tk 28 a share as of yesterday. Presently, IBBL has nearly 161 crore shares, with a face value of Tk 10 per share. If the current market price of IBBL shares is taken into account, JP Morgan's holding of 3 percent shares is valued at over Tk 137 crore. JP Morgan is one of the largest asset and wealth managers in the world with assets under its management worth $1.7 trillion (as of December 31, 2014).

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.

Iran issues $300m equivalent domestic bond

Iran, frozen out by sanctions, has not been a fixture in the international debt markets since 2002. But when it eventually returns, which it surely will in the next year or so, its first step back may turn out to have been a little-noticed domestic issue that took place on September 30. The issue of Islamic government treasury bills, it could even be said, was the country’s first true domestic bond. There has been a sort of debt market in Iran for years, but it does not resemble anything like local currency markets elsewhere in the world. The predominant vehicle is the Agh Mosharekat (participation paper) an instrument which carries a fixed coupon, is not tradable, and can be returned to the bank at any time during its (typically three-year) duration and redeemed.

Islamic finance to fuel China’s Belt and Road initiative: Prince Turki

Finance from Islamic nations wants to play an important role in China's Belt and Road initiative, Turki bin Faisal Al Saud said at the International Finance Forum in Beijing on November 7.
Also known as Turki Al Faisal, Prince Turki is a member of the Saudi Arabia royal family, one of the founders of the King Faisal Foundation and chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.
"I'm glad to see that the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) is considering taping Islamic funds," he said. "Islamic finance is very suitable for infrastructure financing, and we want to contribute to the One Belt One Road."
The initiative is composed of infrastructure development across Asia and Europe. It's estimated that China will invest a total of $900 billion and spur a regional input of $300 billion.
Chinese banks having been raising clout in the Gulf such as issuing bonds. The country is also strengthening its trade relations with Islamic countries.
However, the plan comes with risks, as Chinese companies have to first become familiar with Islamic finance, which has complex rules.

SBP reiterates commitment for Islamic banking

State Bank of Pakistan has reiterated its commitment for promotion and development of Islamic banking in Pakistan.
According to SBP’s press release, the share of Islamic banking in total deposits of the banking industry surged to 12.8% as of 30th June, 2015 due to is persistent efforts and is consistently growing with a cumulative average growth rate of over 50% during the past 12 years .
“To-date 5 full fledge Islamic banks, one Islamic Banking Subsidiary and 17 banks with dedicated Islamic Banking Branches are operating in the country with over 1700 branches spread all over the country”, the release read.
SBP has developed Shariah compliant open market operations for managing liquidity of Islamic banking sector, which is quite unique in the Islamic world. State Bank Shariah Board has also approved structure of Government of Pakistan Ijara Sukuk issued in the past and all such structures for future issues will be approved by SBP Shariah Board before their launch”.

SBP reiterates commitment to boost Islamic banking

In order to remove any ambiguity and doubt among the general public, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has reiterated its commitment for promotion and development of Islamic banking in Pakistan.
Due to persistent efforts of SBP and the federal government, the share of Islamic banking in total deposits of the banking industry has surged to 12.8% as of June 30, 2015 and is consistently growing with a cumulative average growth rate of over 50% during the past 12 years. To-date, 5 full fledge Islamic banks, one Islamic banking subsidiary and 17 banks with dedicated Islamic banking branches are operating in the country with over 1,700 branches spread all over the country.

Islamic Bank May Support Green Sukuk for Renewables Projects

The Islamic Development Bank indicated that it may issue green sukuk bonds compliant with religious law and increase lending for climate-related projects with an announcement at the United Nations global warming conference in Paris at the end of the year.
“Estimates for the 2030 agenda indicate that we need to move from billions to trillions of dollars of support annually for sustainable development,” Savas Alpay, chief economist of the IDB, said in a phone interview. “Traditional sources of development finance will not be enough. We must also look at non-traditional sources. We will be using Islamic finance to bring new resources to the table.”
Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Malaysia’s state-owned sovereign wealth fund, issued green sukuk last November after introducing guidelines for socially responsible debt in August 2014. It was the second entity after the London-based International Financial Facility for Immunization announce plans to sell ethical-based sukuk.
Green Sukuk

BMA Funds signs trust deed for Islamic income scheme

BMA Asset Management Company Limited (BMA Funds), a non banking finance company, formally signed the trust deed for its forthcoming Islamic income scheme, BMA Minhaj Islamic Income Fund at CDC Pakistan. The event brought together the representatives from CDC, trustee of the BMA Minhaj Islamic Income fund, and the senior management of BMA Asset Management Company Limited.

Following the same trend of leadership, BMA Minhaj Islamic Income Fund will offer a unique one of its kind scheme for investors who wish to benefit from the equity market and at the same time seek capital appreciation that adheres to shariah principles. It primarily aims to generate superior risk adjusted returns to earn a stable halal income over medium to long term by investing in fixed income instruments present in Pakistan debt market.

Interviewed: Samiullah: Modaraba A Profitable Sector Of Pakistan’s Islamic Financial Industry

Muhammad Samiullah is currently associated with NBFI & Modaraba Association of Pakistan as Secretary General. From the platform of the Association, he has organized a number of workshops and seminars on different topics relating to the NBFI and Modaraba Sectors.
Samiullah is an active Member of FPCCI Standing Committee for Islamic Banking & Takaful. He is also a Member of the Arbitration Panel of Karachi Stock Exchange and holds a Master’s degree in Economics from Karachi University, Law Graduate and Dipomaed Associates of Institute of Bankers in Pakistan. He also has a Post Graduate Diploma in Islamic Banking & Takaful from Darul Uloom, Korangi. By profession Samiullah is a banker and has worked in Habib Bank Limited (HBL) in different disciplines for about 27 years, with his last posting in HBL as Vice President & Company Secretary, First Habib Bank Modaraba. He also officiated as Chief Executive of First Habib Bank Modaraba for quite some time.

Iran's Saman Bank to enter Turkish market

After Bank Mellat obtained the right to expand its operations in Turkey in March 2014, Iran's Saman Bank has also applied to the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK). The BDDK is now considering the Iranian bank's request; BDDK is expected to issue a reply around New Year's. Bank Tejarat and Pasargad Bank are also expected to reapply to be involved in the Turkish finance market after Saman Bank's application is approved. The approval of the expansion request of Bank Mellat, which had not been operationally active in Turkey due to sanctions and had downsized in 2012, also raised hopes for other banks.

Investment scandal: Two more accused in Modaraba scam held

The country’s top anti-graft body arrested two more accused of cheating public and depriving them of their hard-earned money in the multi-billion rupee Modaraba scam. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi circle on Saturday arrested Mufti Muhammad Idrees and Abdul Malik Bajouri, directors of Fayazi Gujranwala Industries. The accused deprived various gullible individuals of Rs8.2 billion by wooing them into investing in the scheme for attractive profits. The NAB has so far arrested 34 accused, including Mufti Muhammad Ehsanul Haq, CEO of the Fayazi Gujranwala Industries and recovered Rs1.73 billion from them.

Pakistan: Is Mobile Money a Viable Alternative to Banking?

The 2014 Financial Inclusion Insights (FII) survey estimates that 93% of Pakistani adults are financially excluded as only 7% of the respondents reported to having a bank account, while registered accounts with other financial institutions were negligibly low. A more promising statistic is that of mobile phone ownership, as the FII survey finds that 54% of Pakistani adults own a mobile phone. This high proliferation of mobile phones is considered by many to be an opportunity for the financially excluded to attain financial inclusion through Mobile banking. However, various products such as loans, insurance, and interest on savings are not offered by mobile money companies yet.

Azerbaijan’s largest bank abolishes Islamic financing

The International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) has decided to liquidate the Islamic financing department, head of the liquidated department Behnam Gurbanzade said. The bank's portfolio in Islamic financing amounts to nearly $526 million. By the end of the year, the department was planning to introduce new products and services. It was also planned to allocate long-term loans designed for each industry and to pay particular attention to agriculture. In addition, it was planned to introduce certain forms of financing for the construction, light and food industries. However, the decision on liquidation of the department was made last week.

Refugee Bank to provide financial inclusion for refugee crisis

The Digital Finance Institute, a Canadian not-for-profit, has entered into an arrangement with an Iranian firm and as the first part of the arrangement is joining forces with Sana Pardakht. The two sides will have bilateral cooperation on the role of innovation labs to drive technology, banking and finance, Bitcoin, smart cities and renewable energy, emerging payments, Iran’s potential to emerge as a finance hub post-sanctions, business opportunities in Iran and the growing importance of social banking with a case study on payments to solve financial inclusion for the refugee crisis.

Azerbaijan's biggest bank closes Islamic banking department

The International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA), the country's largest and the only state-owned bank, has closed its Islamic banking department. Behnam Gurbanzade, IBA's director of Islamic banking, said the department was closed last week, but did not give the reasons. The department started the service in April 2013. The decision was reportedly linked to structural changes in the bank.The bank's Islamic assets rose to $526 million at the end of 2014 from $160 million a year earlier. "The agreements signed with international financial institutions within the framework of Islamic banking, as well as the bank's liabilities in this area will remain in force.

Pakistan funds idled by sukuk shortage complain of exodus of investor

Shariah-compliant funds in Pakistan say the government’s plan to end a year-long hiatus in local sukuk sales is too little, too late to plug a shortage of assets that has put off their investors. The finance ministry will sell rupee-denominated sukuk once 233.8bn rupees ($2.2bn) of notes mature on November 21. That would be the first offering since it raised 49.5bn rupees in June last year. While Pakistan issued global bonds twice in the past 12 months, it has neglected local investors. A sovereign credit-rating upgrade in June, record foreign-exchange reserves and a narrowing current-account deficit make it an opportune moment to return to the Islamic debt market, after its conventional dollar bond sale in September drew bids for twice the $500mn offered.

IMF praises SBP for financial sector’s stability

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has welcomed the progress made by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) with respect to the capitalisation of the banking sector. In the eighth review of Pakistan’s economic performance under a 36-month loan programme of about $6.6 billion, the IMF said the SBP should continue its efforts to bring a number of small banks into compliance with statutory requirements. After the recapitalisation through a rights issue in the only capital adequacy ratio (CAR)-non-compliant bank in July, it noted with satisfaction that all Pakistani banks have now become CAR-compliant. However, five small banks are still operating below the Rs10 billion minimum paid-up capital requirement (MCR).

The promise and peril of Iranian stocks

Iran has long had a hard time attracting foreign cash. But with this summer’s historic nuclear deal, foreign investors are finally eyeing the pariah nation. Investors, though, are going in with their eyes open to the numerous obstacles, such as limited company transparency, a small number of outstanding shares for trading, a lack of custodial services and high inflation. Most foreign entities aren’t yet legally allowed to buy shares on the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE). Still, more foreign buyers are now considering the Iranian equity market because, over the next six to 12 months, they’ll likely be able to access the TSE as the nuclear deal takes effect.

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