Analysis: Saudi Arbitration Court in the UK?

It was recently stated in the Financial Times that Saudi Arabia intends to lobby the UK government in November in order to set up a confidential court in London. The court is to settle multimillion pound commercial disputes coming from the Middle Eastern country. The people of Saudi Arabia hope that an arbitration centre based in London will contribute to countering investor concerns about the Saudi Arabian legal system. This way, foreign investment could be stimulated. According to Amgad Husein and John Balouziyeh from SNR Denton, the success of such an arbitration centre depends on its implementation.

Gatehouse advises Malaysia’s SWF on first UK real estate investment

Cooperating with Malaysia's Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), Gatehouse Bank has executed the GBP 165 million acquisition of the law firm SJ Berwin’s offices in London. The role of Gatehouse was Investment and Shari’ah Adviser. The deal is the first real estate investment of the Malaysian client and is essential for its wider global investment strategy. According to Chief Executive Officer of Gatehouse Bank Richard Thomas, this investment is a great example of international co-operation and demonstrates how funds can be mobilised around the world complying with the principles of Shariah.

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UK Muslims Get Access to Shari`ah Finances

UK Muslims will get access to financial products that are in line with Islamic Shari'ah rules, as day want to know what drives the returns they are receiving. A new service, called Ummah Financial Planning, has been recently launched by Garbutt & Elliott and should help around two to three million Muslims in the UK to manage their finances.

BLME Celebrates 5 Years of Trust, Integrity and Ethical Banking

In July 2007 Bank of London and The Middle East ("BLME") celebrated its fifth anniversary of receiving FSA authorisation. Throughout these years BLME has successfully constituted and developed its business platform, providing various wholesale banking and wealth management services. Humphrey Percy, CEO of BLME, said that despite the challenges in the global economical turmoil, BLME had achieved key successes in the growth of their Wealth Management business and Corporate Banking divisions. BLME’s success is due to reliance upon traditional banking values of trust, fairness and integrity. Thus it provides clients with ethical corporate banking, treasury and wealth management services across Europe and the GCC.


New internship to analyze sector with over $270 billion in estimated assets

Riyadh, 20 July 2012: Today a multinational group of companies dedicated to the Islamic banking industry announced the first nominee for the Islamic Banking & Finance internship, cosponsored by Bank of London & the Middle East ( in London, Wafi International in Riyadh ( and Safa Investment Services ( in Geneva and Riyadh.

Thomas R. Woods, graduating end 2012 from Durham University (U.K.) with a Master’s degree in Islamic Finance, was chosen to serve for six months. Fluent in Arabic, Mr. Woods will focus first on global capital markets and professional asset management from the BLME offices in London, and then will conduct the first-ever study of historic investment returns at Islamic endowments (awqaf) at the Safa offices in Riyadh. Wafi will supervise Mr. Woods’ work in Saudi Arabia.

GBP100 million Saudi Arabian - United Kingdom fund completes 2nd real estate acquisition

Sidra Capital (Sidra) and Gatehouse Bank (Gatehouse) finalized their second real estate acquisition in the United Kingdom Real Estate Fund (SURF) for GBP 22.4million.
The fund will deliver a diverse real estate portfolio in the UK, providing Saudi Arabian investors access to one of the world's most transparent and well-regulated markets.
The SURF fund has the purpose to hand over an average annual distribution yield of 7.00%.

Specialist proposes fatwa bypass on Islamic products

Trevor Norman, director of Jersey-based fiduciary specialist Volaw Trust and Corporate Services, noted that UK investors and their advisers should be given permission to research products themselves instead of having to obtain a fatwa, or judgement, from a Sharia board.
Mahmood Faruqui, senior adviser for the Bank of London and the Middle East and former vice-chairman of the Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance, added that another problem with the current system was the lack of transparency from the Sharia board in providing its judgements.

BLME completes first Islamic banking deal in the renewable energy space in the UK

Bank of London and The Middle East plc (BLME) signed a £14 million leasing deal with Global Marine Systems Ltd.
According to the agreement, BLME will support Global Marine in the acquisition and refit of an offshore power cable installation barge. The barge will be uniquely suited for the installation of a full range of subsea power cables. The increased request for this type of cable installation barge is directly connected to the growth of offshore electricity transmission being constructed to link the off-shore wind farms now being built throughout the North Sea and surrounding waters.

UCITS tapped for Islamic funds distribution

Potential for marketing Islamic funds cross-border in the Asia-Pacific and Asean is starting to be seen through the UCITS (undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities) platform. Despite the fact that it has already been used in Europe, it's the first time that it's being used in this region.
On January 16 2012 Kuala Lumpur-based CIMB declared the launch of three Islamic UCITS funds designed for cross-border distribution in Asia.
These funds will be registered and allocated in seven jurisdictions including the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.

Malaysian global asset manager establishes first-in-class fund platform in Ireland

Ireland has conducted its first Malaysian-managed fund platform. The Central Bank of Ireland has approved the establishment of CIMB-Principal Islamic Asset Management (Ireland) Public Limited: a joint venture between Kuala Lumpur headquartered CIMB Group and Principal Global Investors.
The newly created joint venture will uphold a range of international Islamic funds on the platform from its Dublin domicile. Three equity UCITS are being registered: Islamic Global Emerging Markets Fund; Islamic Asia-Pacific ex-Japan Fund, and Islamic ASEAN Equity Fund.
Once registered the funds will be spread in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Singapore.

2012 LSE-Harvard Public Lecture on Islamic Finance , 22nd Feb, 6.30 pm


Date: Wednesday 22 February 2012

Time: 6.30-8pm

Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, London School of Economics

Speakers: Mukhtar Hussain, Professor Volker Nienhaus

Chair: The Hon. Mr Justice Cranston

Tadhamon seals UK students facility deal

Tadhamon Capital seems to have reached an agreement with UK developer Watkin Jones for joint ownership of Athena Hall.
The Athena Hall was cultivated by Watkin Jones in 2010 and is part of a new university campus benefiting from a five-year rental guarantee across the whole property and a 30-year nomination agreement with University Campus Suffolk.
The co-arrangers for the GBP26.7 million ($41.3 million) transaction were Tadhamon and Apache Capital Partners. The transaction will distribute a quarterly net cash yield of 8 per cent per annum to investors.

UK 'to remain top Islamic financial centre'

According to British Ambassador Iain Lindsay, UK and London will remain the world's leading international and Islamic financial centres. He stated that Islamic finance benefits from the UK's combination of experience, variety of skills, geographic location, infrastructure, transparency and openness.
He added that UK is in ninth place globally and is the leading Western country. The country is also seeking to consolidate its position as the gateway to Islamic finance in Western Europe.

Islamic investing – from niche to mainstream?

Rob Pearce of HSBC analyzes a form of socially reponsible investing based in Shariah.
It seems that the Muslim community currently makes up approximately 4% of the UK population. This is anticipated to double to 8% over the next two decades. But the proportion of the estimated £500bn UK DC assets invested in Islamic funds is a minuscule fraction of this amount. Auto-enrolment carries many challenges and opportunities, as well as an additional five to eight million individuals who will be saving more or joining a pension scheme for the first time. With an average age of only 28, many of these new investors will be Muslims.

Oasis Group targets UK investors for Islamic funds

The Oasis Group is advancing very fact in expanding its overseas operations and plans to open an office in London later this year as part of its expansion strategy.
Michael Bear, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, stated that high level financial and business services in South Africa and London are on a fast track for much closer cooperation. He also added that this will benefit both countries.
Oasis made its most critical move when it opened its office in Ireland, Dublin. Today it has six funds listed on the Irish stock exchange including its two flagship funds - the Oasis Global Equity Fund and the Oasis Crescent Global Equity Fund; the Oasis Crescent International Property Equity Feeder Fund; the Oasis Crescent Global Income Fund; the Oasis Crescent Global Low Equity Balanced Fund; and the Oasis Global Money Market Fund.

Mefcom ties up with UK-based merchant bank Beufort

Mefcom Capital Markets together with UK-based merchant bank Beaufort will supply various cross-border financial services to corporates and other investor classes. Furthermore, they will arrange Sharia- compliant investment products and plans to give the investors access to markets in India, Mid-East, the UK and Europe.
Mefcom-Beufort would provide its clients services allied to cross-border corporate advisory and due diligence work, brand franchising and international licensing transactions, listing and capital raising activities, private equity, investor roadshows, wealth management and stock broking and more others.

Egypt Rekindles Interest in Islamic Finance

Egypt has renewed interest in the growing sector of Islamic banking and finance in an effort to rebuild the economy of the country using internal methods of financing.
Part of the country's pursuit will be to launch a sovereign Sukuk, or bond, program within months. It would be Egypt's first sovereign Sukuk, ahead of country states including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Jordan aditionally mature markets such as Great Britain and France.

Islamic finance mkt faces ‘expectations’ challenge

The GCC Islamic banking community is well positioned to build on a leadership role versus other potential competing centers such as Malaysia, Iran or even the UK.
GCC Islamic banks have also prooved their ability to be more innovative in terms of product development and provision of services as they compete for business with conventional banks. However competition in the GCC has also outcome as a fragmented Islamic finance industry with most local institutions remaining relatively minor players on a global scale.

UK bestows first royal award for civic excellence in Islamic finance

Richard Thomas, CEO of Gatehouse Bank, was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the recent Birthday Honours list of Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the UK Government. Thomas becomes the first UK royal award for civic excellence in Islamic finance.
Fahed Boodai, Kuwaiti chairman of Gatehouse Bank, stated that this recognition is honoring his leading contribution to the development of Shariah-compliant financing over the past 30 years.

Dawn in the East: Islamic finance in focus

Islamic Finance was a growing sector in the UK before the 2008 credit crunch shook the banking industry. Firms had begun to respond to client demand, recruiting experts in Sharia law and putting in place support networks. Now economies are holding back.
The Big Four and top mid-tier firms all have experts that are waiting to engage with clients on the topic, but it is not clear how much business this generates. People with an interest include those searching to invest in Islamic markets and those hoping to attract finance from cash-rich Sharia-observing countries.

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