The Malaysian Reserve

Green #sukuk creates ripples on prominent environmental concerns

According to Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) deputy CEO Datuk Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin, the world will need up to US$90 trillion (RM360 trillion) worth of investments for infrastructure by 2030. This presents a significant opportunity for green finance and green sukuk to be part of the mainstream investment for the financing solutions. In July 2017, SC, Bank Negara Malaysia and the World Bank Group established the country’s first green sukuk. Green sukuk has become the trend that has received support from investors and regulators on a global scale. NewParadigm Capital Markets Managing Director Charanjeev Singh says more green sukuk issuances are expected to take up the Islamic finance space as Malaysia continues to be the catalyst for Islamic bonds. So far, the focus has been big government-owned companies. The next level of development would be to facilitate the middle- market or the mid-sized companies, and not necessarily the government- owned or government-linked, but the A or AA ratings.

Lack of scale, lower returns in Islamic finance need addressing

According to Sultan Nazrin, Islamic finance needs to address the lack of scale, volatility in Islamic equity markets and lower returns for Islamic investing. In his keynote speech at the Franklin Templeton 2018 Islamic Forum in Kuala Lumpur, he highlighted four key areas that need to be addressed. While the overall sukuk market has posted growth in recent years, the resilience of Islamic equities and funds cannot be taken for granted as most of them lack scale. Another issue to be addressed is the greater volatility seen lately in global Islamic-listed equity markets. Sultan Nazrin said that an unparalleled benchmark for governance must be established that balances financial and ethical considerations. He added that innovation represents a challenge and an opportunity for the industry, thus Islamic finance must embrace the modern era of disruption, with a continued strong focus on product innovation.

Islamic finance — focus on capital market development

The Islamic finance sector is a subset of the overall domestic financial sector. Governments face pretty much the same contingent liabilities with Islamic banks as they do with conventional ones. Some 73% of total Islamic finance assets are within Islamic banks. Takaful accounts for a mere 2%, while the remainder 25% constitute assets within capital market instruments such as sukuk, mutual funds and others. Thus, within the Islamic finance space, banking is at least three times the size of capital markets. Policymakers would be well advised to seek not just to grow Islamic finance, but focus on the capital markets component. This is not just good from a macroeconomic vulnerability viewpoint, but is also more in keeping with the Shariah philosophy of risk sharing.

#Malaysia remains lead in Islamic finance

Malaysia has great potential to broaden its market share and strengthen its leadership in Islamic finance. According to the latest report by the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre, Asia’s Islamic financial assets amounted to US$528.7 billion (RM2.05 trillion), or 26% of the world’s Shariah-compliant financial assets as at end-2017. Malaysia continued to be the main driver for both sukuk outstanding and issuance for the year, with a market share of 51% and 36.2% respectively as at end-2017. The country also led in the Islamic wealth management industry with US$28.3 billion (36.5% global share). It also ranked first in terms of number of funds with a total of 394 funds and 27.9% global share, followed by Pakistan with 147 funds and Indonesia with 143. In the banking sector, Malaysia ranked third globally after Iran and Saudi Arabia with a total Islamic banking assets of US$204.4 billion as at end-2017.

Syed Alwi is Agrobank’s new CEO

Agrobank has appointed Syed Alwi Mohamed Sultan as its new president and CEO. The appointment has received approval from Bank Negara Malaysia and the Ministry of Finance. Previously, he had held several senior management positions with various banks such as Bank Muamalat Malaysia, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered Saadiq, The Islamic Bank of Asia and HL Bank Singapore. Syed Alwi has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a first-class master of business administration in Islamic finance from the International Islamic University of Malaysia. Agrobank became a full-fledged Islamic bank in 2015. It provides Shariah-compliant banking products and funding to cater for the halal food industry and agriculture-related activities.

MBSB rebrands AFB as MBSB Bank

Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) has rebranded its recently acquired Asian Finance Bank Bhd (AFB) as MBSB Bank. MBSB Bank's CEO Datuk Seri Ahmad Zaini Othman said the bank would provide Shariah-compliant products and services, such as consumer banking, business banking and trade financing. He added that the bank would also focus on developing its financial technology capabilities to attract more customers. The lender has already embarked on several digitisation initiatives, including big data projects started in June 2017. MBSB Bank plans to launch its fintech capabilities for wealth management and trade facilities by the third quarter of this year, and to have Internet banking facilities ready by end-2018. MBSB finalised its acquisition of AFB in February for RM644.95 million with the latter becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of MBSB. With the transfer of all MBSB’s Shariah-compliant assets and liabilities to AFB, MBSB Bank is the second-largest full-fledged Islamic bank in the country.

Time for Islamic finance to move away from replicating debt contracts

2017 was in many ways a dichotomous year for the global economy. The US, Western Europe and industrial Asia had all seen strong growth. While developed countries have had a good year, the Muslim world, by both economic and political measures, appeared to have had a fairly miserable 2017. With a few exceptions like, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey, the traditional powerhouses, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have had quite a dismal year. Looking ahead to 2018, the geopolitical problems of 2017 will not simply disappear this year, the many underlying causes of the last global recession remain unresolved. The hope for the restructuring of the financial sector never really happened. The tough regulatory initiatives then proposed, have also been pushed back. For its own rejuvenation and to truly contribute to the Muslim world, Islamic finance needs to move away from merely replicating debt contracts to risk-sharing contracts.

#Green #sukuk set for exciting time

The green bond industry has achieved phenomenal growth since its beginning in 2007. Today, leading corporations in various sectors tap into green bonds to raise funding. Toyota revolutionised the green bond market by introducing the auto industry’s first-ever AssetBacked Green Bond in 2014. In May 2016, the London Taxi Co issued a US$400 million (RM1.56 billion) green bond to finance projects, enabling the production of zero-emission-capable vehicles. The first green sukuk was issued in July 2017 by Tadau Energy, with an issuance of RM250 million Green SRI Sukuk to finance a large-scale solar project. Subsequently in October 2017, Quantum Solar Park Malaysia issued its green SRI sukuk worth RM1 billion to finance the construction of three large-scale solar photovoltaic plants. The green sukuk market is expected to grow further in 2018 and beyond. However, the sukuk industry will have to face a twofold challenge. Firstly to convince the issuers to adopt the Shariah-compliant route, secondly to achieve critical mass for the green sukuk market in order to achieve optimal costs of issuance and enable a liquid secondary market trading.

#Takaful #Malaysia to leverage on #digitalisation after high returns

Takaful Malaysia aims to expand its market share in the general takaful business after recording higher turnover and earnings for its 2017 fiscal year. The company increased its revenue by 6.5% to RM2.14 billion year-on-year due to the higher sales in the family and general takaful businesses. Group CEO Datuk Seri Mohamed Hassan Md Kamil said the company maintained its lead position in the family takaful segment and the fire and motor classes’ gross contribution shot 20% up from FY16 to close at RM591 million. He added that Takaful Malaysia is also in the middle of enhancing its digital capabilities. Significant investment has been made in tools, applications and new technologies to improve operational efficiencies and enhance the customer experience. The takaful operator surpassed the RM200 million mark for the first time since its inception in 1984, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 27%.

Bank Islam launches social finance platform, Sadaqa House

Bank Islam Malaysia has recently launched its social finance initiative, Sadaqa House. It aims to provide products and services to collect sadaqah, waqf and hibah. The public can contribute to realising social finance projects for sectors such as healthcare, education and entrepreneurship through the bank’s digital crowdfunding partnership with Ethis Ventures and GlobalSadaqa.com. Bank Islam CEO Khairul Kamarudin said the bank was utilising technology in its Shariah solutions to deliver a service that is aligned with the current digital trend. Also, contributors can ensure the funds contributed are being channelled accordingly and track the progress of the chosen project. Ethis Ventures founder Umar Munshi said the platform was not limited to Muslims and Malaysians. Any amount of money can be donated by the public into the Sadaqa House fund account, while Bank Islam will match the raised fund at the rate of 1:1 to a maximum of RM500,000.

Diyanet against Bitcoin

Diyanet, the Turkish religious authority has ruled that bitcoin is not in accordance with Islam at this point of time.

“Buying and selling virtual currencies is not compatible with religion at this time. Because of the fact that their valuation is open to speculation, they can be easily used in illegal activities like money laundering and they are not under the state’s audit and surveillance,” according to Diyanet, as quoted by local newspapers. Noteworthy it said is also that the digital currencies are not under a central authority or under guarantee of a state or financial institution.

A recently released 55-page research paper by Faraz Adam of Amanah Finance Consultancy on the topic, it was concluded that bitcoin is “not ideal as a long-term investment, and neither should the Islamic finance industry consider its use in exchange, unless there is a specific need, until a regulated and transparent framework is established”.

http://darulfiqh.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Research-Paper-on-Bitcoi...

Maybank Islamic’s AUC grown to RM9b

Maybank Islamic Bhd has clinched major mandates valued at RM9 billion under its Islamic custody services in less than a year since its launch, with more new clients expected to be on board by end-2015, the bank said. Maybank Group’s Islamic banking arm stated by year-end, the financial offering will have assets under custody (AUC) amounting to RM13 billion on the back of these new clients. The clients comprise mainly from financial institutions, inclusive of non-bank entities, the bank said. Maybank Islamic’s custody services offering also provides value-added services such as Islamic performance measurement and attributes, and compliance monitoring.

Najib: Global Islamic Mega Bank Has Yet To Materialise

The idea of having a common currency and a global Islamic mega bank among the Muslim countries is quite remote at the moment and the focus should be on increasing intra-trade, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.
Najib said while talks of having a mega global Islamic bank have been on the table for some time, the idea has not materialised.
“There have been some attempts to establish a global Islamic mega bank, but it has not materialised yet. I think there are some challenges to be put together, in a serious fashion, for a mega Islamic bank. Effort should continue,” he said at a press conference at the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Najib cited the example of the European Union’s (EU) challenges in adopting a common currency as a reason why the idea of a common currency among Muslim countries is remote.
“I think it is quite remote to have a common currency among the Muslim world. I don’t think we should imply to go down the path as EU was also at the point of breaking up at one time. It is not a feasible option but what we can do is increase the intra-trade among Muslim countries.

Country Garden open to funding proposals, sukuk

China’s Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd said it’s open to funding proposals from various domestic and international financial institutions, which include the possibility of setting up a sukuk programme and issuances to partly fund its proposed projects including the Forest City project in Johor. The company is reported to be interested in raising as much as RM800 million from a sukuk issuance. Forest City will be a mixed development project consists of commercial, residential, educational, healthcare centres and recreational facilities including man-made sandy beaches. The construction work on the project started in midMarch 2015.

Raising sukuk to cost more for firms

Companies will need to pay more to borrow money through sukuk even as Malaysia, the global driver of Islamic finance, faces jitters amid a harsher economic environment and heightened political risk. Higher premiums would be necessary to attract investors and to provide investors with reasonable buffers against higher interest rates in the event US hikes its interest rates by year-end, said Meor Amri Meor Ayob, CEO of Bond Pricing Agency Malaysia. Aside from some domestic-specific uncertainties, the factors that are said to be affecting the Malaysian sukuk market — low oil prices, slower exports growth — are also similarly affecting other emerging markets and oil exporting countries.

Maybank Islamic's RM20m to Waqf fund

Maybank Islamic Bhd will provide RM20 million of seed capital to a Waqf Fund which will be invested into investment portfolios, to include fixed income, equities, balanced fund and real estate. The local financial institution said that majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (MAIWP) will be the trustee of the Waqf fund while the bank will be the project manager. Profits or capital yield from the investment portfolio will be used to fund programmes related to development of educational and health care infrastructures, as well as to develop young entrepreneurs. Maybank Islamic Chief Executive Officer, Muzaffar Hisham said Waqf was one of the potential investments which can be developed to fund various economic activities for the benefit of the community.

AIG Re-Takaful to spur industry growth

AIG Re-Takaful (L) has brought in additional capacity to spur growth of the Malaysia general takaful industry which is currently constricted by limited capacity. In addition, the fully Shariah-compliant unit of insurance giant American International Group Inc (AIG) is differentiating itself from competitors consisting of retakaful operators backed by global reinsurance companies. AIG Re- Takaful CEO Idzuddin Zakaria said the company has treaty and facultative capacity to take on larger risks and offer more sophisticated products and services. AIG Re-Takaful, in operation since April 2014, has undertaken a few facultative risks which frees takaful companies to undertake more risks and thus growing the general takaful sindustry. AIG Re-Takaful will also explore and expand on opportunities to grow in the Malaysian market.

AIA Public Takaful declares RM8.5m surplus

AIA Public Takaful Bhd has declared a total surplus of RM8.5 million for the financial year ended Nov 30, 2013. In a statement, the insurance company said the surplus distribution will involve more than 36,000 certificates under AIA Public, marking the first surplus distribution since the company’s inception three years ago. The distribution will benefit eligible customers who had participated in Takaful products offered by AIA AFG Takaful Bhd and ING Public Takaful Ehsan Bhd, the two companies which had integrated their businesses in March 2014 to form AIA Public. AIA Public said the surplus will be distributed to those who are registered as a customer of AIA Public as at Nov 30, 2013, do not have any outstanding contribution payments and have not made any claims.

Takaful players told to merge in order to survive

Malaysia’s 11 takaful companies should consider merging soon, especially in the general takaful business due to potential limited growth prospects in addition to insurmountable competition especially with the upcoming detariffication of motor and fire insurance in 2016. Apart from new regulatory requirements like the Islamic Financial Services Act 2013 which many companies have difficulties to comply with, takaful products have failed to differentiate itself from conventional insurance products. In addition, limited product offerings by takaful makes conventional insurance more attractive. Nonetheless, other than the regulatory aspects, the synergy offered by a merger would make the company more competitive in addition to having more products to offer.

Maybank Islamic optimistic with 12% growth for 2014

Maybank Islamic Bhd is optimistic of up to 12% growth this year, news that bode well for its parent Malayan Banking Bhd’s (Maybank) aspiration of 15% return on equity (ROE) for 2014. Maybank Islamic accounts for 40% of the group’s revenue and profit for the first-quarter ended March 31, 2014 (1Q14). In 1Q14, total income grew 26% to RM1.319 billion. Nevertheless, pretax profit and zakat for the same period dropped 7% to RM315.1 million, mainly due to the increase in the overhead expenses. This was disclosed at Maybank Islamic launch of its MasterCard Ikhwan Card-i, the bank’s first Mastercard offering.

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