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IIRA reaffirms GFH Financial Group’s BB / B fiduciary ratings

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed its 'BB/B' international scale ratings at GFH Financial Group (GFH), with a stable outlook. GFH's key business lines include investment banking, real estate development as well as the recently expanded treasury and proprietary investments and commercial banking undertaken through its 55.4% holding of Bahrain-based Khaleeji Commercial Bank. The group’s capital adequacy ratio reduced to 14.5% in Q3 2019, remains comfortably above the Central Bank of Bahrain minimum of 12.5%. The bank’s cost rationalisation measures among other strategies are expected to result in boosting of profitability over the coming periods.

#Qatari banks raise over $1 billion in privately placed bonds – sources

Qatar National Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank have raised a combined $1.3 billion in privately placed bonds. QNB‘s chief executive Ali Ahmed al-Kuwari told Reuters this week that the bank‘s U.S. dollar liquidity was excellent and that it had no immediate funding need. The bank, which is 50% owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority reported a 3.5% rise in third-quarter net profit. Qatar Islamic Bank has reported a rise in net profit in the second quarter of this year. It is expected to announce its third-quarter results next week.

Al Salam Bank-Seychelles appoints Chairman

Al Salam Bank-Seychelles (ASBS) has announced the appointment of Alhur Mohammed Al Suwaidi as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Al Suwaidi currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and brings over 15 years of experience in investment strategy to the role. Mr. Al Suwaidi also serves with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, where he has held various positions since 2004. Mr. Al Suwaidi has also served on a number of advisory boards of General Partners. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Chapman University, California, USA.

Dubai Islamic Bank proposes Noor Bank acquisition via share swap

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has proposed the acquisition of Noor Bank through a strategic investment via a share swap. Noor Investment Group and Emirates Investment Authority will become strategic investors in DIB. The share swap ratio is 1 new DIB share for every 5.49 shares of Noor Bank through the issuance of 651,159,198 new DIB shares in aggregate. UAE’s largest standalone Islamic bank will convene a general assembly on December 17 to seek shareholder approval for the proposal. Dubai Islamic Bank was designated by the UAE central bank in 2018 as systematically important. It is the only standalone and full-fledged Islamic bank out of four financial institutions the regulator considers "too big to fail".

#UAE's largest Shariah-compliant bank is about to get bigger: Dubai Islamic board to meet Nov 25 re Noor Bank acquisition

The United Arab Emirates' largest standalone Islamic bank plans to acquire Shariah-compliant Noor Bank. The board of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) will meet on November 25 to discuss the acquisition. DIB said that assets post-acquisition will reach nearly 275 billion dirhams ($75 billion). UAE's oldest Islamic bank currently has operations in Kenya, Pakistan and Indonesia and holds a stake in Bank of Khartoum. Dubai Islamic Bank was designated by the UAE central bank in 2018 as systematically important. The bank posted 0.08% increase in net profit to 1.262 billion dirhams ($343.6 million) for the three months ending September 30 compared to the same quarter a year ago.

National Bank of #Bahrain offers to acquire Bahrain Islamic Bank

The National Bank of Bahrain, which owns a 29% stake in Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB), has made an offer to acquire the entire Islamic lender. Lower oil prices over the past five years are forcing Gulf lenders to consolidate for scale and to better compete in a crowded market. Subdued credit growth, competition for deposits, higher cost of funds and deteriorating asset quality are driving consolidation in the regional banking sector. In the UAE, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank merged with Union National Bank and the combined entity acquired Al Hilal Bank, creating a banking group with AED 423 billion in assets in May 2019. Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, National Commercial Bank is in the process of merging with Riyad Bank to create the Gulf’s third-largest lender with $193 billion in assets.

Qatar Financial Center Expands Number of Licensed Fintech Activities, Releases New Rules and Guidance

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has expanded the number Fintech-related activities that will be awarded licenses and the agency plans to extend support to an increasing number of financial services firms through the QFC platform, according to a release.

Boards of Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank agree terms of possible #merger

The boards of Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank agreed on a share swap ratio. AUB said its board approved a final exchange ratio between the two lenders of one KFH share for every 2.325581 AUB shares. A final decision on the deal is subject to approval from shareholders of both banks, central banks and other authorities in Kuwait and Bahrain. The approved ratio is the same as the one announced in January, when the lenders hired HSBC and Credit Suisse as advisers to carry out financial and legal due diligence of each other’s accounts. According to equity analysts Mohamad Al Hajj and Elena Sanchez-Cabezudo, this merger would increase KFH’s expected weight within MSCI Emerging Market Index by 8 basis points and increase expected flows in May 2020 by $370 million. KFH has tried to acquire AUB in the past, but talks stalled over a difference in valuation.

CBK amends guidelines of corporate governance in Kuwaiti banks

The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) has amended governance regulations for Kuwaiti banks, allowing them to add independent members to their boards of directors and subcommittees. The new regulations define independent board members and the conditions of such independence. Dr Mohammed Yousef Al-Hashel, the Governor of CBK, said that independent members to banks’ board of directors will enhance board members’ independence as a basic principle of sound governance practises. The amendments also allow a minimum of two independent members from 30 June 2020, then four from 30 June 2022 to avoid unexpected demand for independent members and allow gradual implementation of the decision.

BML opens new Islamic Banking headquarters

Bank of Maldives (BML) inaugurated the new headquarters of its Islamic Banking arm in the capital city of Male. The facility will provide counter services for transactions, with a range of financial services available for both individuals and businesses. BML Islamic offers a comprehensive range of completely Shari’ah compliant alternatives to the bank's conventional products. The bank assured that its services were developed in accordance with international standards and best practices for Islamic Banking. Customer deposits are maintained in a separate fund utilized exclusively for Shariah-compliant purposes. The process is overseen by the bank’s Shariah Advisory Committee, which includes internationally recognised experts.

QFC joins Islamic Financial Services Board

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has been admitted to the international standard-setting organisation, Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), as an Associate Member. As an Associate Member, the QFC can participate in the IFSB General Assembly, receive technical assistance from the IFSB and participate in Working Groups, Task Force and closed-door discussions. The Secretary-General of the IFSB, Dr. Bello Lawal Danbatta welcomed QFC and reaffirmed the board's committment to promoting resilience and the stability of Islamic financial services.

Noor Bank collaborates with Unionpay international to launch EMVCo QR-based mobile payment solution

Noor Bank has partnered with UnionPay International to inaugurate the bank’s EMVCo QR-based mobile payment service that allows consumers in the UAE to make instant and secure payments on the go. Customers and merchants across the country can now leverage UnionPay QR code scanning for all their payments. The launch ceremony was attended by Han Wang, General Manager-Middle East of UnionPay International, and John Iossifidis, CEO of Noor Bank. In the UAE, UnionPay is accepted nationwide both on POS terminals and ATM machines, acceptance rate is 100% and more than 60% on POS terminals for the UnionPay card and QuickPass. The new solution is expected to create wider acceptance and increase the number of current QR-code-enabled merchants in the country by end-2019.

Jaiz bank grows half-year profits by 295%

#Nigeria's Jaiz Bank has recorded an impressive performance in the first half of this year. Gross earnings rose by 41% while pre and post-tax profits increased by 292% and 295% respectively. The half year report indicated that Profit Before Tax increased to N907 million from N231 million, while Net Profit after tax rose to N816 million from N207 million. The bank also grew its total income by 41% from N4.47 billion as at June 2018 to N6.31 billion at June 30th 2019. The balance sheet was further strengthened during the period with Total Assets rising by 33% from previous year end position of N108.46 billion to N144 billion. The above results further consolidated the growth trajectory of Jaiz Bank with a promise to end the year positively.

#Indonesia plans to relax bank #merger rule in efficiency push

Indonesia is planning further steps to make it easier for foreign banks to invest in local lenders as well as encourage domestic mergers. The Financial Services Authority, known as OJK, expects to amend the so-called single presence policy. The revised rule would relax the requirement that the acquiring banks have to merge all their local operations into one entity. Removing the single presence rule could make it easier for Standard Chartered to hang on to its 45% stake in PT Bank Permata. A large bank acquiring a smaller rival would be allowed to retain it as a separate entity without specifying the threshold for a merger requirement. However, even as the single presence rule is relaxed, foreign banks looking to acquire Indonesian lenders should still appoint Indonesian residents as president director and president commissioner.

QCB plans centralised Sharia’h framework for Islamic banks

Qatar Central Bank (QCB) is preparing to establish a centralised Sharia’h supervisory in Sharia’h governance. Currently, the Sharia’h governance structure of Islamic banks is mostly decentralised. Individual banks have their own Shaira’h Supervisory Boards to oversee their operations and ensure their compliance with the Islamic principles. The establishment of a centralised Sharia’h supervisory body will help achieve greater market-wide consistency and credibility. Qatar’s Islamic banks have registered a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 10.3% since the segregation of Islamic business from the conventional banks back in 2012. Conventional banks lag behind at 9.8% annualized growth during the same period.

IIRA reaffirms credit ratings of Al Baraka Banking Grp, upgrades its Fiduciary Score to highest among Islamic financial institutions in region

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed the international scale credit ratings assigned to Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) at BBB+ / A3 . IIRA also reaffirmed the national scale ratings of ABG at A+ (bh) / A2 (bh) with a Stable outlook. The Group’s fiduciary score has also been raised to the higher level of “81-85”, the highest among the Islamic Financial Institutions in the region. IIRA recognized the substantial contribution of the Group’s four key subsidiary banks based in Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Algeria. Moreover, IIRA said that the Group benefits from a wide geographic diversification with most jurisdictions possessing a low economic correlation, thereby improving the overall risk metrics.

Bahrain Islamic Bank Swiftly Ready to Launch Open Banking Services

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) announced the launch of open banking services starting from 1st of July 2019. This is the result of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and its directive to integrate all retail banks in the Kingdom with FinTech companies. The open banking services features two types of services. The Account Information Service grants customers access to their bank account data from different banks through a single unified platform. The second service entails transfers between different accounts through a single application. According to BisB CEO Hassan Jarrar, Open Banking is a game changer, offering new online payment channels without the need for credit cards or debit cards.

MIDF keeps mum on Al Rajhi #merger talks

Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF) remains tight-lipped about its negotiations with Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corp (Al Rajhi Malaysia). Both banking groups announced on Jan 10 this year that Bank Negara Malaysia’s approval had been secured to commence talks on a potential merger. However, both parties failed to reach an agreement past the March deadline. The companies then requested for an extension and were given another three months, up to June 27 this year. A merger of the two banks would result in a combined banking group with RM13.17 billion in assets. The merger with Al Rajhi Malaysia will allow MIDF to become an Islamic financial institution as it currently does not have an Islamic banking licence. MIDF brought in RM76.86 million in revenue and RM12.11 million in net profit for 1Q19.

Noor Bank raises over Dhs500m for Azimut’s fixed maturity fund

Noor Bank entered a successful collaboration with Azimut (DIFC) to launch the largest US-dollar Islamic fixed maturity plan (FMP) in the UAE under a Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) domiciliation. Raising Dhs507 million in subscriptions within two weeks of its launch, the FMP that will mature in four years is set to provide an income of 5% per annum through investing in sukuk portfolio. Noor Bank began operations in Dubai in 2008 as an Islamic financial institution. Azimut is Italy’s leading independent asset manager (active since 1989). The parent company Azimut Holding was listed on the Italian stock exchange on 7 July 2004 (AZM.MI) and, among others, is a member of the main Italian index FTSE MIB.

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