The News

CDNS to set up Islamic window for savings products

#Pakistan's Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS) will set up an Islamic window Rafa National Savings to handle the transactions of sharia-compliant saving products. The government has appointed the Dubai-based sharia advisory firm Dar Al Sharia to replicate Islamic financial model for the conventional national savings certificates. Currently, the state-owned CDNS is finalising rules and governance structure for sharia-compliant products. However, the country’s savings-to-GDP ratio of 13.1% is still lowest in the region and attractive financial solutions are needed to foster savings.

Govt mulls buying Ijara Sukuk on deferred payment

The government is mulling to purchase near maturing Ijara Sukuk worth Rs233.81 billion from the Islamic banks on one year deferred payment term to squeeze surplus liquidity. It is expected to buy Rs233.81 billion Shariah-compliant paper, maturing on 21 November, as no investment option is available for Islamic banks to park their surplus funds of around Rs80-90 billion. The government will buy Ijara Sukuk having issues of GIS9, GIS10, GIS11, GIS12, and GIS13 using Islamic financial concept of Bai-muajjal via open market operation for one year. The Islamic banking institutions are flush with excess cash in the absence of no fresh Sukuk in the market.

MCB sets up Islamic banking subsidiary

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued ‘Certificate of commencement of banking business’ to MCB Islamic Bank Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCB Bank. As of June 30, Islamic banking business of MCB was operating with a network of 34 branches having an asset base of Rs21.015 billion. The MCB’s Islamic banking business posted a net profit of Rs408.228 million for the half-year ended June 30, 2015. To augment the existing growth momentum, SBP has prepared the “Strategic Plan for the Islamic Banking Industry of Pakistan 2014–2018”. The plan focuses on initiatives necessary to raise awareness and knowledge about Islamic banking.

Jahangir Siddiqui & Co to invest Rs1.669 bn in Bank Islami Pakistan

The shareholders of Jahangir Siddiqui & Co Ltd, the flagship company of JS Group, in their general meeting held on February 2, have unanimously approved to invest up to Rs1.669 billion in the Bank Islami Pakistan Limited. On December 30, 2014, the Board of Directors of Bank Islami Pakistan Limited had approved to issue ordinary shares of Rs10/- each by way of rights to its members to raise the paid up capital of the bank by Rs4.320 billion.

Pak-Qatar Family Takaful signs agreement with JS Bank

Pakistan's Pak Qatar Family Takaful Limited (PQFTL) has signed a BancaTakaful agreement with JS Bank Limited. This agreement marks the first direct arrangement between Pak-Qatar Family Takaful and any Bank for Banca Takaful. The signing ceremony was held at JS Bank’s head office in the presence of senior officials from both partners, including Muhammad Menhas, Deputy CEO and Country Sales Head, Kamran Rashid, Head of BancaTakaful and ADC and S Adnan Hasan, Head of Marketing and Corporate Communication from Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Ltd. JS Bank was represented at the session by Khalid Imran, President and CEO, Kamran Jafar, Group Head - Corporate and Retail Banking Group, and Babbar Wajid, Head of Product Development & Business Management.

NBP seeks SBP approval for due diligence of Burj Bank

The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has sought regulator’s approval to conduct due diligence of Burj Bank, as the bank wants to continue its footprints in the Islamic banking industry. The NBP had already initiated the process of converting its existing branches into Islamic ones, which will increase to 175 by the end of this year. The acquisition of Burj Bank provides NBP with the opportunity to become a key player in the Islamic banking industry of Pakistan. Burj Bank is the smallest of five full-fledged Islamic banks in Pakistan with a network of 75 branches. The State Bank of Pakistan is stepping up its push to develop Islamic banking, encouraging lenders to expand their operations in the world’s second most populous Muslim nation.

Meezan Bank in pole position to acquire HSBC Pakistan

Meezan Bank Limited was granted permission by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to conduct due diligence of HSBC Pakistan’s operations. The management of Meezan Bank is reportedly in discussion with HSBC Bank Middle East Limited (HBME) for evaluating a possible transaction involving acquisition of the Pakistan operations of HBME. HSBC Pakistan was put on the block early 2012 and attracted interest from major banks. On June 30, 2012, the business to be sold had 10 branches and gross assets worth Rs60.06 billion (approximately $635 million). Interestingly, in November 2013, Vision Financial Holdings Limited had also shown interest in acquiring 49.11 percent or 492 million shares of Meezan Bank Limited. However, the two transactions are said to be completely unrelated.

Short-term Islamic bonds in six months

The Director of the Islamic Banking Department of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Saleem Ullah, has said that the mechanism for short-term liquidity instruments for Islamic banks is being evolved and the launch of these bonds is expected in the next six months. Currently, Islamic banks can only invest in three-year government ijara sukuk. Earlier, experts on Islamic banking and finance agreed the Islamic banks can invest in government activities and projects much like conventional banks but there is a need to create an underlying asset. Another expert said that while the industry has been partially successful in eliminating riba from banking transactions, it needs to introduce diversified products for those segments of the society, which want Islamic investment and financing.

Micro-insurance, takaful business rules notified

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has notified the Securities and Exchange Commission (micro-insurance) Rules, 2014, which will also regulate the micro-takaful business in the country. According to the rules, the word micro-insurance may be used interchangeably with the word micro-takaful; life micro-insurance with family micro-takaful; non-life micro-insurance with general micro-takaful; premium with contribution and insurer with operator. The commission has limited the sums insured under different concepts of micro-insurance. The SECP has also issued Code of Consumer Protection applicable on all insurers / operators in the business of micro-insurance / takaful. Moreover, the commission issued the Code of Conduct for Micro-insurance Agents applicable on all micro-insurance / takaful agents and their specified persons.

Vision Holdings to acquire shares of Meezan Bank

Vision Financial Holdings Limited has shown its intention to acquire 49.11 percent or 492 million shares of Meezan Bank Limited (MEBL), subject to the approval of regulatory authorities. The terms of transaction are yet to be known; however, initial estimates suggest that the deal is likely to settle at a price of Rs47-50/share at premium of 25-30 percent at the current market price. The total size of the deal will be between $214 and $230 million. Interestingly, Noor Financials Investment Limited currently holds 49.11 percent share of Meezan Bank, which is the same proportion required by the acquirer. Therefore, probability of share transfer between the two parties is high. Meezan Bank Limited is currently trading at 136 percent premium to its book value.

Bank Islami to issue rights shares

Bank Islami Pakistan Limited has planned to issue rights shares up to Rs750 million, as the exemption granted by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for minimum capital requirement (MCR) expired on March 31. The SBP had declined to extend the extension unless Bank Islami improves its equity position substantially. The board of the bank will consider the rights issue at the board meeting scheduled on October 31, where the price of the right shares will be decided. The SBP through a circular increased the MCR for banks up to Rs10 billion to be achieved in a phased manner by December 31. Moreover, the central bank had also advised the bank to submit concrete time bound capital plan by March 31, 2013 to comply with the future and prevailing regulatory capital requirements.

JCR-VIS Reaffirms Entity Rating of Burj Bank Limited

JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company has reaffirmed the entity ratings of Burj Bank at ‘A/A-1’. Outlook on the ratings is ‘Stable’. Ratings take into account the financial profile of Islamic Corporation for Development of the Private sector (ICD), one of the major shareholders of the bank. The recent approval by shareholders to increase the bank's paid up capital (free of losses) to Rs. 6b is likely to create room for growth in core business activities, which is constrained by the high level of Capital Adequacy Ratio required to be maintained by the State Bank of Pakistan. With a CAR of 22.5% at end-Dec’12 and net NPLs in relation to tier-1 capital also within manageable limits, the bank continues to depict sound risk absorption capacity. Burj has set up 25 new branches during FY12 to increase the total outreach to 75 branches by year-end. A further 25 branches are planned to be set up during the ongoing year.

Kashf Foundation to unveil Shariah-compliant products

Kashf Foundation is one of the biggest specialised non-profit microfinance institutions in Pakistan, providing means for entrepreneurship and sustainable growth opportunities. Its focus has shifted from enterprises to individuals and solutions are customised. There are Rs2.8 billion in outstanding loans and 157 locations across the country where they are serviced. Twenty more locations will be opened this year. Kashf Foundation is planning to bring in Shariah-compliant products as part of its strategy.

Meezan Bank approves first ever air-time Sukuk

Meezan Bank Limited has received the approval of its Shariah Supervisory Board (SSB) for the concept for the air-time based Sukuks which will be issued in Pakistan. Furthermore, detailed guidelines for Islamic banks involved in sharing of security with other banks for long-term Islamic projects and structured financing have been approved. The resolution was made at the 19th meeting of the SSB of Meezan Bank at Darul Uloom Korangi, Karachi. There, a summary of Meezan Bank's Shariah audit was presented to the SSB.

World Bank publishes book on mutuals and takaful

World Bank has published a new book concerning Takaful and Mutual Insurance. The book shall increase the understanding, appreciation, and discussion of the challenges and solutions which concern development and implementation of takaful.

Islamic banks await framework on profit distribution, pool management mechanism

The Islamic banking industry has been expecting the issuance of a standardised framework concerning the distribution of profit and pool management mechanism for the Islamic banking institutions. This framework is necessary for the procedure of financial reporting and general disclosure could be streamlined. According to a report by The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) authorities, the bank has developed a comprehensive profit distribution and pool management framework. The development was conducted with consultation with the industry so that transparency could be increased and standardisation could be brought to the Islamic banking institutions’ practices in terms of profit distribution and pool management.

Microtakaful – making a real difference to people’s lives

Microtakaful shall help people at the base of the economic pyramid to find a way out of poverty and gives them a real hope of being financially independent. It is known that of the 41 lowest human development countries, 20 have a majority Muslim population. In other words, 54 % of the one billion people living in the low depending countries are Muslims. There are actually just a few takaful operators that have entered into the low-income microtakaful market, especially in the countries where almost all population is Muslim, poverty is extended and the takaful sector is already established.

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