UK

UK seeking renewed ban on Iran’s Bank Mellat

The British government is seeking to renew sanctions against Iran's Bank Mellat regardless of a court ruling branding the ban as unlawful. Britain's Treasury is now attempting to intervene in the European Union Council's appeal against a decision by the EU General Court in January to quash sanctions imposed against the Iranian bank. This comes after reports that Bank Mellat intends to make a legal claim of 500 million pounds against the UK government for loss of business caused by US-engineered illegal sanctions on Tehran between 2009 and 2013. Earlier on June, Britain’s Supreme Court also overturned a ruling against Bank Mellat over its alleged links to Tehran's nuclear energy program, saying the British government was wrong to have imposed sanctions on the bank.

Islamic Bank of Britain opts for more expensive Salesforce over Siebel and Dynamics

The Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) has opted to integrate Salesforce.com with its core banking systems in a bid to avoid costly and time-consuming upgrades that it would have faced if it had decided to roll-out on-premise solutions, such as Oracle Siebel or Microsoft Dynamics. Even though Salesforce is slightly more expensive over a three year Return on Investment (ROI) period, COO Mohamed Gamil believes that the benefits of a public cloud platform far outweigh the extra investment required. The Bank has just completed its third major project using the Salesforce platform, where it is now looking to bring on board as many systems as it can, so as to make application processes for online customers as seamless as posible. IBB went live with a new on-boarding application in January 2012, where it is now also integrated with the bank’s Misys platform using IFrame, so that existing customers can also take advantage of applying for new current accounts online using the Salesforce tools.

Iranian Bank Seeks U.K. Damages After Ruling

Iran's Bank Mellat is claiming GBP500 million ($782 million) from the U.K. Treasury after a London court ruled against a British decision to sanction the bank. In June, the U.K.'s highest court ruled against sanctions that had been imposed on Bank Mellat as a result of its alleged links to Tehran's nuclear program. The London ruling follows a similar decision in favor of Bank Mellat at a European Union court. But it won't lead to an end to restrictions against the bank for now because EU sanctions remain in place on Mellat. The U.K. sanctioned Mellat in 2009, banning its operations in the country and freezing its assets after it was accused of facilitating Iran's nuclear program. The measure was expanded to the rest of the European Union the following year.

Foot Anstey LLP wins contracts from Middle East by specialising in Islamic finance

Foot Anstey LLP, a South West law firm, is winning valuable contracts from the Middle East by specialising in Islamic finance. The firm, which has five offices across the South West región, is one of very few firms in the UK to be able to arrange finance deals in accordance with Islamic law. The Islamic finance team at Foot Anstey has recently advised Islamic banks and Middle Eastern investors on a range of high value and complex transactions. They have created structures to allow conventional and Islamic financiers to work together. Foot Anstey has already advised several Middle Eastern investors on Islamic finance deals. Although most of its business has been in the Middle East, where there is still potential growth, the firm is now looking to expand into South East Asia as well.

Bahrain's Tadhamon Capital acquires two UK assets worth US$50 million

The Bahrain-based investment firm Tadhamon Capital acquired two assets within its prevalent Social Infrastructure Platform in the United Kingdom in the second quarter of 2013. The two transactions are valued at approximately £32 million (US$50 million) which brings the total value of the assets held under the Platform to £123 million (US$190 million). The first transaction was established between Tadhamon Capital and Maria Mallaband Care Group Ltd (MMCG) to forward fund the development of the £6.7 million 53-bed care homes in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire (west of London). The second transaction builds on the Platform's existing strategic relation with McLaren Properties by arranging the acquisition of 251-bed Brunswick House student accommodation scheme in Cambridge at a value of £26 million.

Making Sharia work

The UK government's national savings scheme, NEST, recently announced that HSBC was its choice of fund manager for its Sharia investment mandate. Chris Gower, head of European consultant relations at HSBC, said the fund follows a quantitative passive method. What is unusual it that the fund can have no exposure to financials. This practice leads to the Islamic index being overweight in the oil and gas sector and the healthcare sector. In terms of expectations of the fund Gower explains that HSBC works with a large number of UK defined contribution (DC) pension schemes. It opens up an investment universe to investors who would maybe otherwise not have the possibility to save for their retirement. Gower says the fund is looking forward to working together with NEST.

Operations Analyst

A leading Islamic Bank based in London is currently looking to recruit an Operations Analyst to join its Operations team, reporting to the Fund Operations Manager. The successful candidate will be offered a competitive performance-related remuneration package in addition to the standard benefits package offered by the Company.

Head of Finance

Gatehouse Bank is a Shariah compliant wholesale investment bank based in the city of London. They seek a Head of Finance to have primary responsibility for implementing the processes, procedures, working practices and support model for the day to day running of the Finance Department.

Middle Eastern Relationship Manager, Real Estate

A leading Islamic Bank based in London is currently looking to recruit a candidate to join its Real Estate team, reporting directly to the Head of Real Estate. The successful candidate will undertake a supporting role across a wide range of the Department’s general business activities including client communication, product design and implementation, relationship management and back office liaison. The role has the potential to provide the appropriate candidate with career progression opportunities and exposure to origination activities.

Corporate Finance Manager

A leading Islamic Bank based in London is looking to recruit a Corporate Finance Manager to join the Corporate Finance team, reporting directly to the Head of Corporate Finance. The successful candidate will undertake a front office role in corporate banking and trade finance.

Islamic Bank of Britain raises £10m

Islamic Bank of Britain has raised £10m through a placing of 1,000 million ordinary shares at 1p each with its majority shareholder, Qatar International Islamic Bank.

Gatehouse Bank launches its first sterling Sukuk

Gatehouse Bank has issued its first real estate-backed Sukuk that comprises shares in a company which owns a property leased to Fujitsu Services Limited. Rental payments will be applied to fund payments to the Sukuk holders and investors have the option to redeem their investment on a quarterly basis. Therefore, this asset constitutes a short term cash instrument with an annual yield of three per cent.

Takeover deadline extended for Islamic Bank of Britain

The deadline for Qatari lender Masraf Al Rayan to come up with an offer for Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) concerning its takeover has been extended. It initially lapsed on December 10th and was now extended to January 7th. IBB is majority-owned by Qatar International Islamic Bank. The latter has been discussing selling a controlling stake in the British bank with Masraf Al Rayan since June 2012.
According to a statement by IBB, its lending growth for the first nine months of 2012 have been driven by two new home financing plans. Furthermore, the bank will search for ways to offer more products.

UK-based Islamic bank seeks tie-up with Oman banks

Gatehouse Bank is making efforts to attract Oman's Sharia-compliant institutions to invest their funds in the UK and vice-versa. They are showing keen interest in establishing a business relationship with all Islamic banks. Gatehouse already have treasury services, capital market products like sukuk and real estate financing. There will be an official meeting between Gatehouse Bank's officials and such of Bank Nizwa and Bank Muscat. The goal of the meeting will be to explore cooperation possibilities and opportunities.

Islamic Bank diversifies Sharia compliant range with rent-only product

Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) has brought diversity to its Sharia compliant Buy to Let Purchase Plan product palette by launching a rent only BTLPP. It is a variable rental rate product which will be available to landlords of any faith. The deposit will be 35% and the rental rate 5.49%. Some of the other features of the product are the lack of early payment charge for clearing the finance in full and An administration fee of 1%. In addition, additional acquisition payments can be made without penalty, subject to a minimum amount of £4,000.

Bahrain's Arcapita sells stakes in UK retirement homes

In the process of Arcapita Bank's asset liquidation aiming to raise money for its creditors, the bank has sold its interests in five retirement homes outside London. According to a statement, Arcapita and its investors have sold their ownership of 80% in the property to Health Care REIT. The investment in the US-based publicly traded property investment trust was carried out in 2003 through a joint venture with Sunrise Senior Living. At the time Arcaoita sought Chapter 11 protection on March 19, 2011, the bank had assets of US$3.06 billion (Dh11.24bn) and liabilities of $2.5bn.

Is your money safe with a bank you've never heard of?

A savings market area in which a number of new names at the top of the best buy tables emerged this year is the area of fixed rate savings bonds. In terms of the best rates in the one, two, and three-year bond market, the predominant banks are such as United Bank UK, the State Bank of India, the Bank of London and the Middle East, the Islamic Bank of Britain, Triodos Bank and First Save. No high street bank can be seen in the top list of the area. In order to be protected in the event that a bank or other institution goes bust, UK savers can rely on the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

QIB UK closes seventh Islamic structured note

QIB UK, which is situated in London, has closed its seventh Islamic capital-protected note. The bank's plans further include rolling out similar products every year. Since the launch of its "Hemaya" structured note programme in 2010, QIB UK was able to raise over US$190m. US$153m of the sum were raised by the first six tranches.According to Anouar Adham, the bank intends to launch several tranches every year.

Banking sector nerves blocking international relief, says Islamic Relief FD

UBS recently closed the bank account of Islamic Relief. Because of nervousness about counter-terrorist regulations, the charity organisation is under constant scrutiny by other banks. Incoming as well as outgoing transactions are stopped on a daily basis. It is yet not known whether this is a temporary measure or a permanent one. Since 9/11, Islamic Relief and other similar charities have been object of high scrutiny and had to explain themselves at every juncture.

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.

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