Central Asia

As Raghuram Rajan departs, RBI opens door to Islamic finance

India's central bank has proposed working with the government to introduce interest-free banking. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made the proposal last week, as departing central bank governor Raghuram Rajan hands over the reins to Urjit Patel. Development of Islamic finance has been slow in India because of strong opposition from bureaucrats and politicians from the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. An estimated 180 million Muslims have been unable to access Islamic banking because of laws that require banking to be based on interest. The RBI said it would explore introducing interest-free banking products in consultation with the government, a key detail as this opens the prospects of supportive legislation.

Islamic Funds Industry shows impressive growth market

In #Pakistan Al-Ameen Funds hosted an awareness session on Shariah Compliant Investment. The meeting was organised by Al-Ameen Funds and UBL Fund Managers in collaboration with Pakistan Stock Exchange Limited (PSX). Speakers agreed that the Islamic Funds Industry has shown impressive growth in recent years. Yasir Qadri, CEO of UBL Funds said that the local investors are more aware about the equity market than ever before. However, Islamic funds offer opportunities of investment for a vast audience which is yet to be tapped. Shahid Gul Motiwala, CEO Al-Ameen Islamic Financial Services said that there is a lot of awareness required in Pakistan regarding the benefits of making sound investment choices.

Islamic Development Bank to finance TAPI pipeline

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will take part in financing of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline's construction.

Al Baraka Bank completes due diligence of Burj Bank

Al Baraka Bank has finished due diligence for the proposed merger of Burj Bank. Abid Qamar, chief spokesman at the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), said Al Baraka was given permission for due diligence of Burj Bank and they have completed the process. Summit Bank and Bank of Khyber were also interested in Burj Bank, but they did not carry out any due diligence process. The deal is expected to be completed within next three months, but the complete integration of both entities would take six to eight months. The potential deal would be a part of the significant efforts, currently being made by the SBP, to fix the problem of the small banks that fell below the minimum capital adequacy ratio requirement and minimum paid-up capital requirement.

Tax cut for Shariah compliant business to bolster Islamic finance

A 2% tax cut announced for all Shariah-compliant companies is bound to give a big boost to Islamic Banking in Pakistan. The government has introduced the 2% rebate for Shariah-compliant companies through the Finance Act 2016. The Finance Act also covers the entire national budget for the fiscal year 2017. The latest decision to expand the programme followed a report by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), which confirmed a continuing spread of the Islamic banking system in the country. Islamic banks currently have a 13% share of the conventional banking in Pakistan.

Taxation for Islamic banking: amendments in legal framework under review: MoF

In #Pakistan the Ministry of Finance stated that amendments in legal framework are under review to strengthen the framework of taxation proposals for Islamic Banking. The initiatives mainly include review of Mudaraba guidelines to align those with overall regulatory framework of Islamic Finance, issuance of Sukuk guidelines, issuance of Takaful rules and government Ijara Sukuk. A multi-tiered Shariah supervisory and compliance framework has been put in place. Also, a Shariah governance framework for Islamic Banking Institutions (IBIs) was formulated, which explicitly defines Shariah related rules and responsibilities of all key organs of IBIs. The initial Minimum Capital Requirement (MCR) for an Islamic Banking subsidiary was revised from Rs 10 billion to Rs 6 billion.

Al-Baraka Bank ready to purchase Burj Bank; final approval on Aug 22

The AL-Baraka Bank Pakistan (ABPL) has decided to purchase the Burj Bank Pakistan. The ABPL bank will purchase the Burj Bank through swap Ratio of 1 share of ABPL for every 1.7 shares of Burj Bank for shareholders of Burj Bank, while its face value will be Rs 10 each in the ABPL for every 1.7 shares of Burj Bank. The ABPL will finalise this merger on August 22. In April this year, the ABPL was allowed due-diligence of the Burj Bank for the amalgamation of two of the smaller entities in Pakistan’s banking industry. The two banks deal in Islamic products only.

EIB offers complete suite of deposit products

Silkbank introduced Emaan Islamic Banking (EIB) through conversion of its seven conventional banking branches into dedicated Islamic Banking branches. Emaan Islamic Banking offers a complete suite of deposit products including Current Account, Saving Accounts and Term Deposits. Diminishing Musharaka, Musawamah, Murabaha, Musharaka and Trade Finance facilities are also available. The Emaan Islamic Banking’s branch network stands at a total of 10 branches in 8 cities across Pakistan.

Appreciation for steering committee on promotion of #IslamicBanking

The Steering Committee of Sitara Chemicals received laudation for the promotion of Islamic Banking in #Pakistan. The Committee was headed by Mr Saeed Ahmed, Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan. Sitara Chemicals has shared with Islamic debt investors its profits without comprising on true Musharakah principles. This fact is evident from the level of rate of return offered by the Company on its earlier Islamic debt issues. In 2012 Sitara Chemicals signed an agreement for design and procurement of Coal Based Power Plant having Capacity of 38.5 MW. Total Project cost was estimated at Rs 3.1 billion and Diminishing Musharika Facility Rs 2 billion from syndication of renowned Islamic Banks of Pakistan. In July 2016, this project has been commissioned and trial production has started. First instalment of this facility has been repaid as per its planned schedule.

VHP against Islamic Development Bank’s plan to open branch in #India

Vishwa Hindu Parishad expressed reservations over the Islamic Development Bank’s plan to open its branch in India. VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain is currently attending a two-day meeting in Ahmedabad to discuss various issues. He said they will also deliberate on the strategy to oppose the opening of the new branch. Although IDB recently announced that it will open its first Indian branch in Ahmedabad, VHP insists that such banks are against the Constitution and banking norms set by RBI.

Ithmaar gets FPB's entire #shareholding in Faysal Bank

In #Pakistan Faisal Private Bureau (FPB) has transferred its entire shareholding in Faysal Bank Limited (FYBL) to Ithmaar Bank. On June 30 FPB has transferred over 38.686 million of its stakes in Faisal Bank into Ithmaar's CDC account. However, FYBL secretary Aurangzeb Amin said the transaction had no affect in terms of change of ownership. He also added that the State Bank of Pakistan had already granted its approval for transfer of shares to Ithmaar Bank on April 29, 2016.

Issuance of #Sukuk for NJHP project: PIAF felicitates Wapda-NBP agreement

Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front (PIAF) has felicitated Wapda and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for the Rs 100 billion agreement of 16 banks under Shariah compliant facility for Neelum Jehlum Hydro Power (NJHP) project. There was a long delay and the cost of project escalated up to Rs 414 billion from initial estimates Rs 84 billion. PIAF chairman Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that now a ray of hope appeared for the completion of the project. He said this is the biggest ever funds mobilisation for a public sector entity in which 16 local banks participated. The issuance of Sukuk worth Rs 100 billion for NJHP would go a long way in arranging funds for other hydropower projects.

#Merger with bank islami: Sale of KASB Bank challenged

The controversial sale of the Kasb Bank to Bank Islami has been challenged before the Islamabad High Court. The petition was filed by Mohammad Khalid Randhawa, a shareholder of the Kasb bank, who claims that Kasb Bank was sold to the Bank Islami for only Rs1,000. He was praying before the court to declare the sale illegal. Judge Aamer Farooq made documents related to the inquiry of the deal as part of judicial record and adjourned the case.

Neelum Jhelum project: banks provide Rs 100 billion #Shariah-compliant #financing

Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Company (Pvt) Limited has entered into a financing agreement amounting to Rs 100 bn with a consortium of 16 banks led by National Bank of Pakistan for raising funds through one of the largest Shariah-compliant facility. The financing is based on Diminishing Musharika structured by NBP Aitemaad. The Sukuk is structured with a tenor of 10 years and is backed by the sovereign guarantee from Government of Pakistan.

NJHPC mandated National Bank of Pakistan to act as Mandated Lead Arranger for arrangement of up to Rs 100 billion through issuance of rated, secured and privately placed Sukuks to partially finance the construction of strategically important 969 MW hydel power project located in District Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu & Kashmir. For this financing, a signing ceremony was held on Wednesday here and attended by President & CEO NBP Syed Iqbal Ashraf, Chairman Wapda Zafar Mahmood, member finance Wapda Anwaar ul Haq, CEO NJHPCL Lieutenant General Muhammad Zubair and other presidents and senior officials of all the 16 participating financial institutions.

#Allianz Launches #Sharia-Compliant #Mobile #Loan Service

A few weeks ago we saw the launch of a Sharia-compliant mobile phone-based loan service. The new service, called Trust Network Finance was rolled out by Allianz in Indonesia. TNF reflects the big opportunities in Indonesia for mobile money and for Sharia-compliant services.
Although roughly 60% of Indonesians have a mobile phone, only 3% of the population is reportedly aware of mobile money. Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, and Sharia-compliant finance has grown over the past few decades in the country; however by the end of 2016 Islamic financial institutions in Indonesia are only expected to hold 5% of the nation’s total banking assets.
Of the country’s roughly 250 million citizens, 60% are unbanked. It’s estimated that there are 50 million MSMEs in Indonesia, which make up about 97% of the country’s enterprises.

A record first quarter for #Sukuk

Issuance of Sukuk is up all around the world, up on last year, due to current economic factors and the goodwill for the instrument among global investors
The good news on the Sukuk front is continuing. The proportion of Sukuk bond issuance hit a record in the first quarter of 2016 in the main markets for this form of finance, said Fitch Ratings. According to Fitch’s data, there is a clear upwards trend in use of Shari'ah-compliant borrowing as more countries create legal frameworks to support issuance and as issuers try to attract a broader investor base, including Islamic finance investors.
Total new Sukuk issuance in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Singapore and Pakistan was around $11.1 billion in the first quarter of 2016, with a maturity of 18 months. Issuance was up 22% from the fourth quarter of 2015 and 21% from a year earlier, while non-Sukuk bond issuance of $17.1 billion was down 23% quarter on quarter and 45% year on year. Sukuk represented 39.3% of total bond and Sukuk issuance in these countries during the quarter—the highest proportion in the past eight years.

#Moodys’ Raised Emaar #Sukuk to Baa3 and EIB Sukuk to A3

Highlights and Performance
Bloomberg Malaysia Sukuk
Bloomberg Malaysia Sukuk Ex-MYR Total Return and Dow Jones Sukuk Total Return indices ended relatively flat at 103.9 (+0.02%) and 159.8 +0.01%) respectively, with yields tightened marginally by 0.6bps to 2.470%. Combined with the Fed‘s dovish meeting (June 15), uncertainty over the Brexit referendum jitters (June 23) and mixed signals from China over slowing economy bring the risk-adverse sentiment. The top performers over the week were INDOIS 3/26 and GS 9/19, which moved -11bps to -13bps; while the underperformers were dominated by banking papers — EIB 1/17, Noor Bank B3T1 and DIB B2T1 which widened 12bps each.
Bank Indonesia
Bank Indonesia cuts key policy rates by 25bps in a surprise move, with the BI rate, deposit facility rate and 7-day reverse repo rate now stand at 6.50%, 4.50% and 5.25% respectively. In addition to the rate cut, BI also raised the minimum threshold on loan-to-funding ratio to 80% from 78%. Indonesia risk premiums widened 1.5bps to 196.0bps.

World’s leading financial institutions in Hall of Shame for #investments in #cluster munitions producers

From Canada, CI Financial, Manulife Financial, Royal Bank of Canada and Sun Life Financial are also included in the Hall of Shame. Jointly, these Canadian financial institutions invested US$565 million in cluster munitions producers between June 2012 and April 2016.

The report by Dutch peace organisation PAX was released today in Ottawa, together with the Cluster Munition Coalition and Mines Action Canada, to put pressure on Canada and other governments to put an end to these investments.

“It is an absolute outrage that financial institutions are investing billions into companies that produce weapons which are banned under international law”, says Suzanne Oosterwijk, author of the PAX report. “Canada has also banned these weapons. It is time for financial institutions to stop disregarding the international norm with these explosive investments into producers of illegal weapons that maim and kill civilians.”

Islamic banking catches on

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and India’s EXIM Bank, which enables IDB to open its first branch in Ahmedabad. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia there were a wide range of discussions on business and investment in the background of the Kingdom’s $2 trillion Public Investment Fund. Islamic banking could restore equilibrium in Indian society by providing succour to debt-ridden farmers, labourers and other marginalised groups. Hence, Islamic banking has potential as a tool of financial inclusion.

Senior Iranian banker denies bankruptcy report

A senior Iranian banker has dismissed a recent report by the research center of the country's parliament, which suggested that most banks in the Islamic Republic are on the verge of bankruptcy. Esmaeel Lalehgani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Bank Saderat Iran, has said that the country enjoys a strong and stable banking structure. He confirmed that there are some shortcomings in the system regarding the government's debts, low capital and overdue debts. However, these shortcomings do not mean that the banks are on the verge of the bankruptcy.

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