Europe

'We've been badly served by banks': the small firms seeking #ethical #banking

Dave Fishwick, the founder of Burnley Savings and Loans, put millions of pounds behind the belief that there’s a demand for ethical banking. He aims to link local savers with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in need of finance, run by a locally based bank manager who makes lending decisions based on deep personal knowledge, rather than an algorithm. Fishwick believes that ethical banks are needed: small, simple, honest banks run by the community to serve the community. While SMEs often can’t get loans from major banks, Conrad Ford, CEO of Funding Options, notes that a wave of challenger banks are offering help. They include Metro Bank, Civilised Bank and Greater London Mutual, all with an emphasis on integration with a defined community or locality.

Dana Gas shares fall 4.17% on London #sukuk ruling

Dana Gas share prices fell 4.17% following Friday’s English High Court ruling against Dana Gas and in favour of bondholders. Danas said it plans to appeal the decision by the London court that declared the company’s $700 million sukuk valid and enforceable. Friday’s ruling was made in Dana Gas’s absence from the court. Dana Gas had earlier refused to repay debt owed to investors for two mudaraba sukuk worth $350 million each. The latest ruling does not mean that Dana Gas has to pay bondholders just yet, with another hearing in a UAE court scheduled for December 25.

Shepherd and Wedderburn secures Islamic finance deal

Shepherd and Wedderburn has completed the Shariah-compliant refinancing of high-value office accommodation in Aberdeen. The properties, which total 159,170 sq ft of floor space, are fully let to the oil and gas service provider Petrofac as its North Sea office headquarters and NHS Scotland. The funding was completed by way of a commodity murabaha facility from an established international bank. Peter Alderdice, a senior associate at Shepherd and Wedderburn, said the team was pleased to have used its expertise in Islamic finance to help secure the refinancing of two of the largest commercial properties in the city.

English court rules in favour of Dana Gas bondholders in key Islamic bond case

An English High Court judge has ruled in favour of Dana Gas’s bondholders, reported the Financial Times.

More details at the source.

CEO of Al Rayan Bank receives OBE from Prince William

The CEO of Al Rayan Bank, Sultan Choudhury, has received his Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Prince William. Choudhury was appointed OBE in the Birthday Honours of Queen Elizabeth II, in recognition of his services to Islamic finance. Choudhury was part of the management team that obtained Western Europe’s first authorised Islamic banking licence in 2004. He has since grown the Bank to become the UK’s largest Islamic bank. Al Rayan Bank offers the largest Sharia compliant product range in the UK. The Bank currently has more than more than 80,000 customers throughout the UK, more than a quarter of which it estimates to be non-Muslim.

#Saudi Co. Liable For $668M In Back Rent Tied To #Sukuk Bond

Financial services company Saad has been ordered to pay around $668 million to Citicorp Trustee Company and Golden Belt Sukuk Company. Saad's obligations are tied to sukuk bond and linked to the leasing of land in Saudi Arabia. The judgment was handed down Friday in London's High Court, where Judge Peter Macdonald Eggers ordered Saad to honour its obligations.

Gatehouse Bank names new BDM

Gatehouse Bank has expanded its residential property finance team with the appointment of Mehwish Mirza as its business development manager for residential home finance. Mehwish has joined the specialist bank from Together, where she was also a business development manager and held the same role for seven years at Al Rayan Bank. She will be working across the North of England and Wales, having previously provided residential Sharia-compliant finance in the North West while at Al Rayan. The appointment comes on the back of Gatehouse hiring Sim Gill and Mehraj Bari to its residential property finance team as part of its expansion into the sector.

British judge to issue ruling on $700 million Dana Gas #sukuk case soon

British High Court judge George Leggatt said that he would not further adjourn a trial in the Dana Gas case and would issue a judgement soon. Dana is claiming it does not need to redeem its $700 million sukuk, which matured at the end of last month, because the instruments became invalid under UAE law. Dana had asked for further postponement of the trial pending developments in a UAE court, where motions in the case have also been filed.

Islamic finance in #Malta

In 2008, the Malta Financial Ser­vices Authority was the first EU regulator to issue guidelines on Islamic finance, which were updated in 2015-2016. In 2016, the Malta Stock Ex­change launched an Islamic Equity Index in order to attract investment and business from the Middle East. From a legislative aspect, Malta is already well-geared to welcome new structures that provide for Islamic finance. Malta is the only EU member country whose regulatory framework provides for protected cell companies and incorporated cell companies. Thus it may easily accommodate Takaful insurance solutions. Islamic investors are given the opportunity to set up their funds as Special Purpose Vehicles, Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities, Alternative Investment Funds or Professional Inves­tor Funds. Islamic finance institutions may also generate funds by listing on the Malta Stock Exchange.

Holistic Finance, a movement launched in Switzerland!

In this article Efi Pylarinou shares a few takeaways from the Impact Summit-Faith in Finance held in Zug, Switzerland. Takeway number 1 is that Finance can become Holistic. Blockchain is the enabler for investing and managing all kinds of Digital Assets. The second takeaway is that Finance can become Holistic through the alignment with Faiths. The conference showcased a diverse selection of SDGs and ventures that are in alignment with the movement. Example ventures include: Equileap, focused on gender diversity, TBLI Group, educating asset managers about impact investing, MicroVest, a wholesale microfinance solution with a Faith alignment, SweetBridge, a blockchain solution for the inefficiencies in the Supply Chain, the Seratio Faith Coin, GoBeyond, angel investing empowering women, ThinkYellow, a gender led investing platform, Symbiotics, financing social SMEs, Kompotoi, the rentable composting toilet and 1Bank4All, the global social bank.

Former Swiss Bankers’ Associations’ Head of Compliance and Data Protection joins Lexpert Partners AG

Lexpert Partners AG, a Zug based law firm specialised in providing legal and regulatory advice for the financial industry and to private clients, has appointed Dr. Andrew Ertl, as Partner, effective as of November 1, 2017. Andrew Ertl will be focusing on banking and finance law with a specialist know-how in Sharia compliant structuring as well as data protection law (including GDPR).

Andrew Ertl joins Lexpert Partners from the Swiss Bankers’ Association where he held the position of Head of Compliance and Data Protection and was member of senior management.

Prior to joining the Swiss Bankers’ Association, Andrew Ertl worked as general counsel and secretary of the Board for Peak Values AG, and as in-house counsel for Bank Sarasin & Cie AG and UBS AG.

Andrew Ertl has a doctorate of law (Dr. iur.) from the University of Bern (2012), [Thesis Sharia compliant financial products under Swiss Law] and an additional Masters degree from the University of Edinburgh (UK) in European Commercial Law. Andrew Ertl is fluent in English and German and proficient in French.

When money meets religion: Sharia compliant #pensions in the #UK

Pension schemes are increasingly attempting to understand their members' preferences. Exclusion policies over so-called sin stocks, such as alcohol and tobacco, is on the rise across the UK. The need for sharia-accommodating pensions is likely to grow. The UK’s Muslim population reached 2.8m in 2011, according to the last census. The biggest challenge associated with sharia compliance relates to its policies on investments, but sukuk can take the place of conventional debt instruments. Christine Hallett, CEO of Carey Pensions UK, which administers the Islamic Pension Trust, says sukuk is currently too expensive for the workplace DC default charge cap of 0.75%. The industry is faced with a circular problem. Lack of demand limits the range of mature markets sharia funds can invest in. Maria Nazarova-Doyle, head of JLT Employee Benefits, sees a current absence of demand for sharia pensions, but adds that sharia considerations are becoming more prominent.

Faith And #Investment Come Together As Polling Shows The Public Want Investors To Act With Conscience

The Church of England is circulating a video which discusses investment issues within the church. The initiative is part of Good Money Week to stimulate responsible investment. The YouGov research for Good Money Week shows that there is a high demand for ethical and sustainable investment. 57% of Britain's public believe investment managers have responsibility to ensure holdings are managed in a way positive for society and the environment. There is a rising demand for fossil free funds: 40% want a fossil free option, up from 35% last year and 32% in 2015. This rises to 57% of adults under 24. The research also found that UK savers feel disempowered by financial intermediaries. 76% of Britain's public don’t know how much of their pension is invested ethically and 30% believe they have no say in how their assets are invested. During Good Money Week, the Church of England provides the tools to find out more about ethical investment and helps to take the first steps.

SEDCO Capital discusses #ethical #investment in forum

#Saudi asset manager SEDCO Capital participated in the Islamic Finance Forum in London as an associate sponsor. Several panels and workshops were held focusing on trends in Islamic Finance and European markets. Panel topics included the role of European Stock Exchanges in facilitating Islamic capital raising, Islamic corporate financing activity in Europe and the impact of Brexit. Kamran Butt, Managing Director at SEDCO Capital, participated in the panel discussion entitled "Responsible Investing: The Shift towards Green Finance, ESG & Ethical Funds". Butt said SEDCO's Prudent Ethical Investing (PEI) strategy created optimal risk adjusted returns by integrating Shariah-compliant investment approach with ethical investing. PEI stresses the importance of due diligence and transparency. PEI investment products are getting increasingly popular. International investors can choose from over 14 SEDCO Sharia-compliant investment strategies in Luxembourg with total AUMs of $1.8 billion.

#Britain plans new #sukuk deal; Brexit may boost Islamic finance

Britain plans to reissue Islamic bonds in 2019 in a sign the country’s exit from the European Union may accelerate plans to develop the Islamic finance industry. In 2014, Britain became the first Western country to issue sukuk, raising £200mil (RM1.125bil). A spokesperson of the Treasury assured that the UK was committed to ensuring the future success of the sector. Brexit could threaten London’s dominance as a financial centre. A Reuters survey showed around 10,000 finance jobs may shift out of Britain or be created overseas in the next few years because of Brexit, with Frankfurt and Paris benefiting most. According to Bilal Khan, partner at Islamic finance consultancy Dome Advisory, Brexit has increased the government’s interest in Islamic finance. Because of Brexit, the UK is keen to build economic links with non-EU countries. He said a second sovereign sukuk issue by Britain might be expanded to raise as much as £1bil.

#Sukuk market great hope may never recover from Dana

Dana Gas is an independent natural gas supplier based in Sharjah. Its dispute with investors is now making its way not only through UAE courts, but through English courts as well. Dana’s gone so far down the road to avoid its debt repayments that the affair could easily scare international investors away from the sector. The fallout can be seen in the new issue market. While sovereign sales are carrying on, the broader corporate and financials market in the Middle East has been awaiting resolution of this dispute. In June Dana claimed that its $700mn outstanding sukuk were non-compliant with Shariah law and the money it paid out to holders of the bonds should be returned. Bondholders objected and suggested an immediate payment of half of the $700mn face amount outstanding and the due date for the balance extended for three years. The case is now disputed in Sharjah and London, where it stays until October 12, to allow court proceedings in Sharjah to conclude.

Bondholders push back on Dana Gas #sukuk invalidation claims in London court

Dana Gas sought to have US$700 million worth of Islamic bonds declared unlawful so it could avoid repaying its investors. The bondholder group, led by Blackrock, demanded in court that Dana Gas repays millions of pounds, or hand over stock in a subsidiary that runs its operations in Egypt. It also wanted the court to ban Dana Gas from issuing any new sukuk. The courtroom battle is notable for the absence of Dana Gas, which has been prevented from taking part because of an injunction in the UAE. Any prospect of an early conclusion has been disputed by Dana Gas, which has claimed that litigation could continue in the UAE and could last up to ten years. The trial in London, which is expected to last up to two weeks, is due to hear evidence from the former general counsel of Dana Gas.

Creditors tell High Court that Dana Gas #sukuk get-out is "absurd"

According to creditors, Dana's claim that it does not have to pay back its Islamic bonds because they are no longer sharia-compliant is "absurd" as repayment under such a scenario is covered in the original paperwork. United Arab Emirates energy producer Dana Gas said in June that its $700 million sukuk were unlawful and began proceedings to have this confirmed in British and UAE courts. The case could set a precedent for other sukuk issuers to refuse to redeem their debt obligations. Legal representatives for the creditors have asked the court to dismiss the Dana Gas claim and asked for permission to serve an exercise notice so they would be able to take action. Dana Gas and Deutsche Bank were not in court because of a last minute injunction obtained from a UAE court preventing them from taking part. Judge Leggatt said he would adjourn the trial until Oct. 12 to see if the Sharjah court in the UAE would lift the injunction preventing Dana Gas and Deutsche from participating in the UK proceedings.

London judge postpones decision on Dana Gas #sukuk hearing

A London High Court judge will decide on Friday whether to continue proceedings on the validity of $700 million sukuk issued by Dana Gas. United Arab Emirates producer Dana Gas started proceedings in June to have its sukuk declared invalid and unlawful because of changes in the interpretation of Islamic finance. A last-minute injunction obtained by some shareholders prevented Dana Gas from participating in the trial. High Court judge George Leggatt on Tuesday adjourned the trial and decided to reserve judgement until Friday. The outcome of the trial could have significant repercussions for sukuk issuers and investors worldwide, as it could set a precedent for other issuers. The case is being disputed in UK and UAE courts because while the purchase undertaking is regulated by English law, the mudarabah agreement underlying the sukuk structure is regulated by UAE law.

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