UK

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.

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.

#UK savers struggling to make money should consider Islamic banks

Islamic banks are becoming increasingly popular with non-Muslim savers due to their attractive rates and their ethical principles. In the UK, Islamic banks come under the same governance as high street branches and other private banks, offering the same statutory protections under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This scheme means savers get their money back if a bank or building society goes bust, although there is a cap of £85,000 per lender. According to Robert Parker, founder of Holborn Assets, with Islamic finance profit schemes, after-tax return needs to be compared between schemes to judge potential before making decisions on return rates alone. Islamic banks offer competitive rates, although savers will have to be prepared to tie up their money for at least a year to access the best deals.

#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.

#Brexit suspense casts shadow over #UK as an Islamic finance hub

Uncertainty over the UK’s future status as a financial hub after leaving the European Union (EU) is already casting a shadow over London’s Islamic finance sector. It is estimated that London would lose at least 10,000 banking jobs and 20,000 roles in financial services as clients move €1.8tn of assets out of the UK. The banking exodus would also hit the Islamic finance sector in London, which is the largest globally in a non-Muslim jurisdiction. London currently hosts more than 15 large banks that operate Islamic finance windows and dozens of related service providers. A banking lobbying group has already urged the UK government to introduce post-Brexit laws that make sure that demand for Islamic finance services does not diminish. As long as the UK gives no clear direction whether and how it would excel as a financial hub, competitors will continue positioning themselves as alternative locations. Within the EU, Luxembourg and Dublin, and partly Frankfurt, have good chances to take on roles as Islamic finance hubs for Islamic finance institutions with business in the EU.

Islamic #FinTech Strengthens Ties with European Partners

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has announced two new partnerships with non-profit organizations from London and Zurich. The first alliance is with the Swiss Finance and Technology Association (SFTA). The second one is the British think tank Responsible Finance and Investment Foundation (RFI). The Swiss partnership will strengthen the collaboration between local FinTech businesses and will provide new opportunities for knowledge transfer. ADGM also signed an agreement with the London-based RFI. Both parties will work together to assist young FinTech entrepreneurs in testing and introducing innovative products under the ADGM Reglab program. In addition to that, RFI and ADGM will also set up an open platform to share knowledge and expertise. According to Blake Goud, the CEO of RFI, FinTech can have a leading role in transforming the way Islamic institutions connect with their clients. In his view, this partnership can encourage and support emerging FinTech companies to adopt ethical, responsible and Islamic approaches.

Gatehouse Bank appoints ex-Shawbrook director

Gatehouse Bank has appointed former Shawbrook Bank director Tim Blease as its new chief operating officer (COO). Tim Blease’s previous roles include new business strategy and innovation director at Shawbrook and head of retail credit risk at Metro Bank. The bank has also appointed Sharron Harvey as its executive vice-president head of HR. Sharron has previously worked for Habib Bank Zurich and has 20 years of HR experience, mainly in the financial sector. Both Tim and Sharron will report to Charles Haresnape, CEO of Gatehouse Bank. The appointments come after Gatehouse revealed a number of changes to its board last week.

London court to hear Dana Gas #sukuk case in September

London's High Court plans to hold a full hearing in September on efforts by Abu Dhabi-listed Dana Gas to restructure $700 million of its outstanding sukuk. Dana Gas declared the bonds invalid last month, saying they were no longer compliant with changing interpretations of the Sharia law. The judge upheld an interim High Court injunction blocking holders of the bonds from enforcing claims related to the securities against Dana Gas. However, he imposed restrictions on asset sales by Dana and its ability to raise more debt or pay dividends. The case has worried the Islamic finance industry as it has raised the prospect that other firms could justify not honouring obligations by claiming sharia-based financial standards had changed.

Market-leading Sharia #savings #accounts: should you consider them?

A number of Sharia savings products are beating competitors and are playing their part in kick-starting small rate increases. Currently in the fixed bond market, Sharia savings accounts top every single category. As well as top returns, they also appeal to the more ethical saver or investor as the money is invested, not lent out. According to James Blower, managing director of Savings Guru, Sharia-compliant savings have developed their niche very well and will grow in popularity. He says there are three reasons why Al Rayan is one of the most successful Islamic banks in the UK. It has a low minimum entry level, wide range of options for customers to deal with it and it rebranded from Islamic Bank of Britain to Al Rayan Bank. An interesting point to note is that 86% of Al Rayan customers are non-Muslim. In the UK Al Rayan, BLME and Milestone are all regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and are members of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which protects deposits of up to £85,000.

Why London Will Remain The Islamic Finance Hub Of The West

London’s popularity as an Islamic finance hub emerged in 2013, when Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled plans to develop the city into the Western capital of Islamic finance. In 2014, London took a step further when Britain became the first country outside the Islamic world to issue sovereign Sukuk. The key benefit of this policy was attracting additional liquidity from investors in the Middle East and Asia adhering to Islamic finance principles. The London Stock Exchange is a key global venue for the issuance of Sukuk. According to the LSE Group official website, over $48bn has been raised through 65 issuances. Other centres such as Dublin and Luxembourg also have ambitions to attract Islamic financial services. Furthermore, in April this year Saudi Arabia listed its biggest ever sharia-compliant bond on the Irish Stock Exchange, so the competition between the Western financial centres is more intense than ever.

#UK slowly progressing towards providing Shariah compliant #student #finance

The UK Government has been thinking about the possibility of introducing Shariah compliant student finance since 2011. The Higher Education and Research Bill is currently before Parliament. However, the Bill contains no time-scale for when a Shariah compliant system is likely to be in place. When the Bill was reviewed in the House of Lords, Lord Sharkey proposed an amendment to give a deadline of the 2018-2019 academic year for the introduction of such a scheme. This proposal was rejected by the Government. Lord Sharkey instead proposed an amendment requiring quarterly progress reports from the Secretary of State. The final outcome is that the Bill will proceed forwards and once it has completed all stages, the Secretary of State for Education will have the power to implement a Shariah compliant student finance system.

Married banker from Norbiton takes Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank to employment tribunal after she was 'pimped out' to secure Arab client worth £25m

A married senior banker was "pimped out" by her boss in a bid to get a wealthy Arab client to open an account with £25 million. Suemaya Gerrard, a relationship manager at the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, claimed the client bombarded her with love songs and inappropriate text messages. She added that bank CEO Jawdat Jawdat put pressure on her to go out to dinner with the man and she was threatened to lose her job if she did not go. Suemaya Gerrard resigned from the bank last November and is now suing it for sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and constructive dismissal. The bank and Mr Jawdat deny all the allegations. Mr Jawdat claimed it was normal practice to entertain clients and dine with customers.

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