Europe

Sadiq Khan backs #crowdfunding campaign for pro bono advice app

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has backed a campaign to raise money to boost free legal services to disadvantaged people. The money is being raised on a crowdfunding site for an application that could be made accessible through advice centres and even food banks. According to Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the former president of the Law Society, £25,000 has been raised for the project so far and £2,000 more is needed to launch the six-month pilot this September.

Albaraka Türk launches mobile-only banking service for Europe's Muslim community

Turkey's Albaraka Türk is targeting Europe's Muslim community with the launch of an interest-free digital banking app. "Insha" is initially being rolled out in Germany ahead of a Europe-wide expansion. It features a document-free account opening process and comes complete with a debit card. In addition to financial products, the app offers a range of Islamic-friendly services including a Zakat Calculator and a "Nearest Mosque" locator. Meliksah Utku, general manager at Albaraka Türk, says that the insha project marks the first step in the bank’s strategic entry into the European market.

Dr M To Deliver Teleconference Address At Sarajevo Halal #Fair

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has agreed to deliver a keynote address, via teleconferencing, at the three-day Sarajevo Halal Fair. Bosna Bank International's CEO Amer Bukvic announced that the fair would begin on the 27. of September and he invited more Malaysian companies to set up business in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bukvic added that the country aims to become Europe’s halal hub and they need help from Malaysia. The Sarajevo Halal Fair is jointly organised by Bosna Bank International, Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank Group Business Forum and supported by Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation.

Savings Status Quo Challenged As 79% Of Shariah-Compliant Accounts Now Beat The Market

Gatehouse Bank surveyed eight different types of account: easy access, 1, 2, 3 and 5 Year Fixed Term and 30, 60 and 90 Day Notice accounts. It found average returns on Shariah-compliant savings products trumped their mainstream counterparts on all account types bar one, easy access. Overall, the average rate on Shariah-compliant products was 1.54% while the average for mainstream accounts was 1.29%, a difference of 0.25%. All but three of the 14 Shariah-compliant accounts surveyed beat the market average. Shariah-compliant savings accounts in the UK are growing in popularity, amongst both Muslim and non-Muslim savers. According to Gatehouse Bank CEO Charles Haresnape, what we’re seeing is the emergence of a genuine challenge to the UK savings establishment.

MOVES-#Britain's largest Islamic bank Al Rayan appoints new COO

Birmingham-based Al Rayan Bank appointed Paul McMillan as chief operating officer as part of the bank’s expansion efforts. McMillan, a former chief executive of mortgage servicing firm Acenden, takes over the role from the bank’s previous COO Venkat Chandrasekar. Al Rayan is one of the five standalone Islamic banks in Britain and is owned by Qatar’s Masraf Al Rayan.

Launch of #Malta Islamic Finance Association

Malta Islamic Finance Association (MIFA) was officially launched on 26th June 2018 by Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri. The present government headed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat fully supports and endorses all efforts for establishing Islamic Finance in Malta. Malta Islamic Finance Association aims to liaise with governments, quasi-governmental institutions, multilateral organizations, standard setting bodies, agencies and regulatory authorities. The Governing Council of MIFA has appointed Mr. Reuben Buttigieg as President of MIFA and Sheikh Bilal Khan as Secretary General of MIFA for the first term.

Growing Islamic finance firms lobby British government for #tax relief

Islamic finance firms are lobbying the British government for tax reforms, arguing that the treatment of some shariah-compliant structures is hindering their growth. Islamic financial transactions often require multiple title transfers of underlying assets, which can trigger double or even triple tax charges. More than 20 firms offer Islamic financial products in Britain. According to Samir Alamad, head of product development at Al Rayan Bank, capital gains taxes are affecting Islamic banks and their customers. He added that taxes on investment property and commercial finance also need clarification. Islamic banks are expanding, but there are concerns that future changes could also have an impact on the sector. The government’s 2017 budget has proposed changes starting from 2019 to the tax status of nonresident investors and the way they are taxed on real estate disposals.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Funds $32.2 Million Deal Of A #UK Property

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) UK, has arranged a Sharia’a-compliant transaction to finance the acquisition of Lateral House, located in Leeds, UK. The deal involves a sum of $32.2 million on behalf of an Abu Dhabi-based private banking client. Earlier this year the bank arranged the acquisition of The Hub, located at the Aztec West Business Park, Bristol, for $43.4 million on behalf of a private Saudi based client. Lateral House is a modern Grade A office building providing 95,317 square feet of net lettable commercial office space. ADIB was the first UAE-based bank providing Islamic financial services to be licensed to operate in the UK. Today, it is just one of six banks in the UK providing Sharia-compliant services.

Lombard Odier launches Shari'ah-compliant #investment offering

Lombard Odier has launched a full suite of Shari'ah-compliant investment solutions. Arnaud Leclercq, Limited Partner at Lombard Odier Group said that since the offering began as a bespoke creation for one client, it has grown from a $10 million to in the hundreds of millions, primarily for investors in the Middle East. Lombard Odier's Islamic investments have averaged 4-5% returns since 2012. The goal is to reach $1 billion in total Islamic investment the next 3-5 years. The investments are a mix between Sukuk and equities. Equities are chosen using a combination of MSCI's Islamic Index and Lombard Odier's in-house experts. The clients serviced with these solutions are primarily from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Lombard Odier plans to increase its presence in the Middle East with an office in Abu Dhabi.

#UK Mosque Opens #Crypto #Donations in National First 'Bitcoin Ramadan'

A UK mosque has broken with opinion and opted to accept cryptocurrency donations for this year’s Ramadan period. The Shacklewell Lane Mosque in East London partnered with local Blockchain startup Combo Innovation to set up a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet for the Ramadan practice of Zakat. The UK’s only Turkish-owned mosque is going against the rulings of various Islamic scholars and the Turkish government, who previously determined cryptocurrency to be "incompatible" with Islam. The mosque hopes to raise around £10,000 ($13,300) for repairs to the building. So far, its Bitcoin address has received funds worth around $2000.

New Islamic banking service to be launched in Germany

AlBaraka Türk launches basic online Islamic account services in Germany utilizing solarisBank as service provider and license holder.

UK taxation needs to accommodate Shariah compliant #real estate refinancing

For well over a decade, the UK has been amending its tax laws for Islamic finance. The goal is to ensure that Islamic finance transactions are not taxed more heavily, or more lightly, than their conventional finance equivalents. In a diminishing musharaka transaction a property is being sold twice, once by the individual to the bank and then by the bank back to the individual. Countries that charge tax on transfers of real estate will typically do so for both sales. Furthermore, the individual has sold for $750,000 a property that cost him $100,000, so if the country taxes gains arising on the sale of property, the individual can expect to be taxed on the $650,000 gain. In the United Kingdom, the real estate transfer tax charges were eliminated. However, the capital gains tax charge triggered by the sale remains in the case of sales to Islamic banks. The UK’s Chartered Institute of Taxation has now proposed that the gain on the Islamic financing transaction described above should not be taxed.

Al Baraka Banking Group and the Bank of London & The Middle East (BLME) sign a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance their collaborations and product offerings.

Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bank of London & The Middle East (BLME). The MoU was signed by Mohammed El Qaq, Senior Vice President & Head of Commercial Banking of Al Baraka Banking Group and Andrew Ball, Head of Wealth Management of BLME. The MoU provides both parties with opportunities to collaborate and gives BLME the chance to provide Al Baraka clients with investment opportunities in UK real estate. According to ABG President Adnan Ahmed Yousif, the MOU will enable the bank to enhance its product offerings and capitalize on its geographic diversification and wide client base. Al Baraka currently has a strong presence in Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Bahrain, Pakistan, South Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, including two representative offices in Indonesia and Libya.

AXA partners with Cobalt Underwriting for Sharia-compliant policy

AXA Insurance has teamed up with Cobalt Underwriting to create a new Shariah-compliant insurance product for the real estate sector. As part of the partnership, AXA directly manages the trading and underwriting of the product. Cobalt employs in-house Shariah scholars who provide each client with Shariah compliance certification. The new product is part of AXA’s wider strategy to bring new products to under-served sections of the insurance market. Ryan Birbeck, head of real estate specialty at AXA Insurance, said that the addition of a Shariah-compliant insurance policy was an obvious move as overseas investment continues to flow into the UK real estate sector.

London’s #takaful standards seeking Shariah scholars’ approval by year-end for 2019 roll-out – industry association

London’s draft standards for transaction of Islamic commercial insurance are seeking Shariah scholars’ approval this year for roll-out next year. The Islamic Insurance Association of London (IIAL), which counts Lloyd’s of London as a founding member, has sought Shariah and legal opinion for the standards framework it has developed. The planned roll-out of IIAL’s takaful standards will more or less coincide with the UK’s departure from the European Union on March 29 next year. According to IIAL secretary-general Jon Guy, lots of managing general agents (MGAs) will target UK retail takaful because they will have the ability to access Shariah-compliant capital. Once the syndicates have gone through the regulatory and administrative setup, they will be very keen at looking at how they can deploy it.

#UK injunction restricts Dana Gas dividends in $700 million #sukuk dispute

United Arab Emirates energy firm Dana Gas received a new injunction from the English High Court restricting its ability to pay dividends or increase its debt. Sukuk holders have been trying to force the company to redeem the sukuk since last year. Dana said in late March that it would seek shareholder approval on April 11 to pay a cash dividend for 2017. The dividend would be worth 5% of capital or about 349 million dirhams (67.4 million pounds). But the English High Court order blocked Dana from making dividend payments unless it also sets aside money to redeem the sukuk. It also prohibited Dana from increasing its debt by more than $25 million.

Call for Good Practices on Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Activities

Click here to apply http://bit.ly/2tN5RAZ

Purpose of this call is to invite private and public sector to share their good practices on
•Islamic finance funded impact investments and dedicated vehicles
•impact investment vehicles in the OIC region
•Islamic social finance vehicles

for the mapping study that is being carried out under the Global Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Platform (GIFIIP). The selected cases will be analysed by the research team managed by IICPSD and IRTI. Subsequently the good practices, information on vehicles and further findings will be published as part of the study.

Investment Focus

Gatehouse Bank launches Shariah-compliant case management platform

Gatehouse Bank has launched a Shariah-compliant home finance platform, enabling intermediaries to process home finance and buy-to-let applications quicker. The platform is developed by financial services software provider BEP Systems and uses cloud-based mobile-ready technology. Gatehouse Bank CEO Charles Haresnape is delighted to partner with BEP Systems. The bank currently offers buy-to-let finance and plans to roll out Shariah-compliant home owner finance through selected brokers in the near future.

ADIB funds GBP19 million acquisition of Bristol's The Hub

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has arranged an Islamic financing transaction to fund the acquisition of The Hub, located at the Aztec West Business Park, Bristol. The transaction is worth GBP19.35 million and is arranged on behalf of a private Saudi-based client. The Hub is a regional UK office for Atkins, a multinational design, engineering and project management consultancy. The building has been awarded a BREEAM excellent rating, as overall carbon emissions are more than a third lower than expected for a building of its size. ADIB opened its office at One Hyde Park in London in May 2012 and was the first UAE-based bank providing Islamic financial services to be licenced to operate in the UK, being one of the six banks that are fully Shari'ah-compliant.

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