Japan

Japanese financials offering Islamic products

Japanese financial institutions have started offering Islamic financial services in Muslim countries in the region. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking for example arranged a Shariah-compliant deal with a shipping company affiliated with the Brunei government. Meanwhile, other financial institutions are expanding their Islamic banking services. Especially the markets for Islamic financing in Malaysia and Indonesia are expected to grow.

Mizuho seeks licence to offer syariah-compliant services

Banks from Japan to Bahrain are aiming to open offices in Malaysia to take advantage of the growth in Islamic finance assets in the world’s biggest sukuk market.
Mizuho Financial Group Inc has applied for a licence to offer foreign-currency Syariah-compliant services in the country. An aproximatly equal licence was given to Bahrain’s Elaf Bank B.S.C. in June.

DIB unveils plans for Sharia opportunity fund

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) stated that it will launch a new Sharia opportunity fund in the region with exposure to equity markets across the Asia-Pacific region.
Prudential Asset Management Limited is the one offering the fund. It will search to invest in Sharia-compliant companies in the APAC region excluding Japan. It will also try to capitalise on the sustained economic growth and increasing wealth across the APAC region.

EQUITIES: Axis Islamic REIT IPO targets US$700m

Axis Global Islamic REIT is in talks with potential cornerstone investors and will aim to raise around US$700m from a Malaysian IPO in the second quarter. The original plan was to include assets from Japan, Australia and Hong Kong., but this may change as a result of last week’s earthquake and tsunami. CIMB and Standard Chartered are joint global co-ordinators, with Credit Suisse and Maybank as joint bookrunners.

Japan adopts new strategy

Japan has included tax reforms and regulatory measures for Islamic finance, as part of the country’s financial strategy, which is one of seven key components of the government’s “new growth strategy — blueprint for revitalizing Japan.
Malaysian Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) under the program are required to increase their investments through Islamic finance structures and to venture cross-border with the aim of developing a diversified and enhanced returns strategy.
Islamic finance facilitation, albeit a niche objective, fits in with Japan’s new growth strategy in other ways as well.

"KFHR": USD 9.52 billion value of ten largest Sukuk deals by Q310 end

KFHR Limited prepared a report on the Islamic Sukuk market.
The report notes the following:
- In 2011 the Sukuk market will be driven by the recovery made in the global economic activities, flexible monetary policies, and sovereign fund-raising efforts to support economic growth as well as the revival of private sector projects
- the entry of new players in the emerging markets, as well as new non-Islamic exporters willing to take advantage of Sukuk market with potential debut in Thailand, Japan and Europe, which will boost demand for Islamic Sukuk

Malaysia pushing for Islamic finance legal framework

Many jurisdictions are interested in Islamic finance and have taken initiatives to develop the industry through reviewing their legal framework to facilitate the introduction of a range of Islamic financial products, including more recently France, Ireland, Australia, Jordan, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Lebanon.
One of the key determinants for the successful development of Islamic finance in any jurisdiction is the existence of a conducive legal framework that supports the operations and growth of the industry.

International Borrowers Take to Islamic Bond Market

Until recently the issuance of Islamic bonds, or sukuk, was confined to the Muslim world. But now a number of international borrowers are tapping the markets, including Nomura Holdings in Japan and Europe's first corporate borrower, International Innovative Technologies.
The ratings agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s say they expect to see a rise in the number of sukuk issues by new players over the next 12 months, including issues by borrowers in Singapore, Australia, Luxembourg, Thailand, Hong Kong, France and Russia.
While the Islamic Financial Service Board and the accounting and auditing organization have defined standards for sukuk, defaults over the past year have shown that new guidelines must be set as problems arise, particularly as sukuk start to generate global attention.

Kuwait's KFH in talks to invest in Asia - report

The Malaysian unit of Kuwait Finance House (KFH), the Gulf Arab state's biggest Islamic lender, is having "strategic alliance" negotiations in Japan, a newspaper reported on Sunday. Kuwait Finance Malaysia was the first foreign Islamic bank to win a licence under the Southeast Asian country's Islamic Banking Act. It is the Kuwaiti bank's Asia-Pacific hub and aims to promote business between the region and the Middle East.

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Reuters: Japan investors interested in Islamic products

Reuters reported on 30 December that Japanese investors have expressed interest in developing Islamic capital market products, according to a local newspaper quoting Aseambankers Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Rashdan Mohammed Yusof. No company names were disclosed in the interview, however Aseambankers, the investment bankers of Maybank Group plans to develop the Sukuk market in Japan.

Japan moves carefully toward Islamic finance

Manabu Hara reported on 12 December in Asahi Newspaper that the Japanese Government has taking a step more to introduce Islamic finance. Earlier this month, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) amended financial regulations to let bank subsidiaries handle Islamic finance operations. But still Murabaha transactions are subject to tax issues.

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