Malaysia

#Turkey, #Malaysia, #Qatar can pioneer in Islamic finance

Ready to be taken to the next level, the burgeoning sector of Islamic finance is ready to take root in new regions through Turkey, Malaysia and Qatar. According to Yousuf Al-Jaida, CEO of the Qatar Financial Centre, Malaysia could act as a gateway for Islamic finance into Asia, with Turkey into Europe and Qatar the Middle East and Africa. He stressed that Malaysia was ready with its legal framework to facilitate the sector, while Qatar and Turkey need to step up and do more for the sector. Al-Jaida said these three countries could form a large platform to share experience, technology and knowledge. He is optimistic and sees a bright future, as Islamic finance is now growing at an even quicker pace than conventional finance.

SC launches new roadmap to drive sustainable investments

The domestic capital market is expected to play a critical role in helping Malaysia meet the estimated RM45 billion required to finance its long-term sustainable development goals. Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Syed Jaffar Albar said climate change poses physical and financial risks to companies. The change to more sustainable practices requires investments in new technologies and funding which carries risks with indeterminate outcomes. Malaysia alone is projected to require RM45 billion in the next five years. Therefore, the SC released the sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) roadmap to establish the country as a regional SRI centre. The roadmap identified 20 strategic recommendations based on the SC’s five i-Strategy: the widening of the range of SRI instruments, increasing the SRI investor base, building a strong SRI issuer base, instilling a strong internal government culture and designing information architecture.

Waqf, zakat mechanism can make houses more affordable: Amiruddin

The Malaysian government is currently looking into various avenues in Islamic finance which can be used to make houses more affordable. Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah said that one state in the northern region is currently conducting a waqf housing scheme for the people. He said this at the sidelines of the inaugural International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF). INCEIF president Datuk Azmi Omar said that there are a lot of waqf land that can be used to develop affordable housing. The cost to develop the houses can be lower, however, the houses will be under a long-term lease. On another matter, Amiruddin said that the digital banking framework is set to push the country forward in the digital banking landscape.

Sharia committee wants to quadruple Islamic bank assets by 2024, will partner with #Malaysia

Indonesia's sharia financial committee hopes to quadruple the nation's sharia bank assets over the next five years. The comittee's executive director Ventje Rahardjo said that the goal was to reach Rp. 2 quadrillion (US$142.2 billion) in sharia bank assets by 2024. The committee plans to widen its coverage of Islamic finance to the Islamic economy in general. Therefore, the name of the committee will be changed to the National Committee for Sharia Economy (KNES) to better reflect its responsibility to oversee the development of the halal value chain. Ventje added that Indonesia and Malaysia would work together to create a regional halal standard. The committee also plans to digitize sharia financial services, including a digital zakat platform and a sharia-compliant e-wallet.

IILM reissues $600mln #sukuk; GCC banks act as primary dealers

Malaysia-based International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) has reissued A-1 short term sukuk worth $600 million in two series. The reissuance came in the form of $300 million with 1-month tenor at a profit rate of 1.85% and $300 million with 3-month tenor at a profit rate of 1.91%. Primary dealers include Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Barwa Bank, Boubyan Bank, Kuwait Finance House and Qatar Islamic Bank. The non-GCC banks that participated in the reissuance include Maybank Islamic, Standard Chartered Bank, Al Baraka Turk and CIMB Bank. The demand for the 1-month and 3-month Sukuk series reached a bid-to-cover ratio of 208%, and 255%, respectively.

Wan Azizah: Make Islamic finance part of halal ecosystem

According to Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, action needs to be taken to make Islamic finance part of the halal ecosystem. She said it was reported that there seemed to be a disconnection between the halal industry and Islamic finance. Based on Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)’s Financial Stability and Payment Systems Report 2017, Dr Wan Azizah said Islamic business financing continued to exhibit a strong growth of 12.5%. However, she pointed out that there was insufficient access to Islamic financing for the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the halal sector. She said Malaysia could serve as a focal point for halal product trade intelligence by being the premier destination for halal trade exhibitions and commerce.

#Malaysia remains key source of Islamic debt papers

According to Fitch Ratings, Malaysia remains the main sukuk issuer this year besides countries from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. The increase in Malaysia’s sukuk market is largely driven by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and contributed by local currency corporate issuance. Notable corporate deals included energy service firm Serba Dinamik’s US$300 million (RM1.25 bilion) sukuk, the first dollar high-yield sukuk offering in the Asia-Pacific region. The Malaysian market shows how as the Shariah-compliant investor base grows, the cost of sukuk issuance becomes more competitive relative to conventional bonds. Fitch believes that global volumes normalised rather than declined last year after hitting record levels in 2017. Moving forward, Fitch believes macro-economic and geopolitical conditions will affect sukuk issuance. GCC debt markets are relatively developing but individual sovereign funding decisions can profoundly affect total supply.

Why is #Singapore so far behind #Malaysia on responsible investing?

On numerous fronts, Singapore outcompetes its regional rival Malaysia. But in terms of the sustainability of their capital markets, Malaysia trumps Singapore in responsible investing. Malaysian asset managers are more confident than their Singaporean counterparts that responsible investments will outperform regular investments. A recent Bloomberg study shows that 67% of Malaysia’s investment community believes that portfolios underpinned by environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors will perform as well as or better than regular investments. In Singapore it is 58%. The survey also found that a quarter of asset managers in Malaysia had developed their own internal ESG scoring models, compared with just 13% in Singapore. Large Malaysian asset owners are signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, whereas Singapore’s big investors are not.

#Takaful Ikhlas, CIMB Islamic target RM168m contribution from tie-up

Takaful Ikhlas and CIMB Islamic Bank are targeting to achieve RM168 million in gross contribution from their newly forged strategic bancatakaful partnership. The two groups expect the partnership to grow by 11% every year for the next five years. The partnership is aimed at providing general takaful solutions to the bank’s customers across retail, small and medium enterprises, as well as commercial segments. CIMB Islamic will leverage on Takaful Ikhlas' offerings, which, in turn, will leverage on CIMB Islamic’s distribution channels comprising the bank’s 250 branches nationwide, online platforms and call centres. Takaful Ikhlas CEO Eddy Azly Abidin said the demand for takaful products was growing and both organisations should work closer together to capitalise on this market’s potential.

Islamic Finance Expert: ‘Halal Coin’ a Matter of Time and Awareness

According to Amanie Advisors CEO Suhaida Mahpot, the existing skepticism towards crypto in Islamic countries is not a pure rejection, but rather a consequence of uncertainty. Mahpot compared the existing situation of cryptocurrencies with Malaysia’s controversial types of investment known as Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) and Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN). The perception of ASB has transformed over the years and it was decided to consider it as "harus" in 2012, which means that it is neither prohibited nor encouraged by the teachings of the faith. Both ASB and ASN investments were finally declared permissible for Muslims by the Selangor Fatwa Committee, the same regulatory authority that previously prohibited them. Mahpot argues that the same goes for digital currencies and financial institutions and scholars need more education about cryptocurrencies and their benefits.

Bank Islam top domestic #sukuk #broker in 1H19

Bank Islam Malaysia is the top domestic sukuk broker for the first half of the year (1H), after helping issue US$5.15 billion (RM21.21 billion) worth of sukuk in the market. Bank Islam’s market share of the sukuk issued accounted for 29.03% of the total ringgit-denominated sukuk issued in the 1H. The bank advised on 10 issues for the period. The second-largest issuer in the 1H is Maybank Investment Bank, which was ranked first last year for the same period after having helped issue US$4.1 billion of sukuk. Analysts expect the local sukuk market to remain active driven by capital raising by government and corporates for major construction works such as the East Coast Rail Link, Light Rail Transit Line 3 and Mass Rapid Transit Line 3 projects.

#Malaysia Explains New Cap On Interest Expense Deductions

The Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia has released new guidance on restrictions to the deductibility of interest expenses. The rules are based on the recommendations of the OECD in Action 4 of its base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) Action Plan. The rules are intended to prevent tax base erosion through the use of excessive interest expense deductions to reduce domestic tax. There are parts that have been customized based on domestic circumstances. The Malaysian rules cap allowable interest expense deductions at 20 percent of a taxpayer's income before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Disallowed deductions for one year can be carried forward to the subsequent year.

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.

Banks' lending activity remains robust

According to CIMB Group Holdings group CEO Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz, banks are doing as much as they can to balance lending to customers with responsible financing. He said commercial banks would want to grow their loans to maximise returns, but that must always be balanced against the banks’ risk metrics. To promote financial inclusivity, CIMB Bank Bhd and CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd have set aside at least RM12bil for the B40 group to access to facilities such as home, automotive, Amanah Saham Bumiputra and personal financing from 2019 to 2020. CIMB Bank and CIMB Islamic’s are assisting the B40 segment via the lowest-in-market financing rate of 2.9% per annum, under Bank Negara’s RM1bil Fund for Affordable Homes, to help those in the B40 group buy their first residential property. Based on data from Bank Negara, the industry’s loan growth rebounded slightly to 4.6% year-on-year in May from 4.5% in April, ending a five-month downtrend.

#Malaysia’s Islamic fund manager BIMB signs UNPRI to incorporate ESG into investments

Malaysian Islamic fund manager BIMB Investment has become an official signatory of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI). BIMB Investment is the only bank-backed Islamic asset manager in Malaysia to be a UNPRI signatory. The UNPRI group works to understand the investment implications of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and supports its network in incorporating these factors into their decisions. BIMB Investment CEO Najmuddin Mohd Lutfi said that the company has integrated more than 250 ESG metrics in its investment process since 2015. The company currently manages over 1 billion Malaysian ringgit of ESG assets. At the moment there are around 2,300 signatories to the UNPRI. Other signatories from Malaysia include Xeraya Capital, Navis Capital Partners, the national retirement fund KWAP, sovereign wealth fund Khazanah, and Corston-Smith Asset Management.

Virtual banks can attract more millennials to Islamic banks

According to Professor Datuk Dr Azmi Omar, President of the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), it is necessary to address millennials, as they constitute a significant proportion of the Malaysian population. Therefore, Islamic banks must be smart enough, in either that they create another subsidiary, a virtual bank, or roll out more of their services in terms of virtual applications. He added that virtual Islamic banks will attract millennials, but not everyone will go for digital banking. It is an alternative. In March this year, BNM governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Yunus said the central bank had had some preliminary discussions with a few banks, with virtual banks overseas. In its report on Islamic Banking Moody's noted that Malaysia planned to issue new virtual banking licenses by end-2019. This could increase competition for deposits, especially among Islamic banks with weaker deposit franchises.

#Malaysia’s MIDF, Al Rajhi Bank #merger hangs in balance

The planned merger of Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF) and Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corp (Al Rajhi Malaysia) is now uncertain as the shareholders have missed the June 27 deadline. The shareholders of the two companies have sent a request to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) seeking more time to further negotiate the merger plan. In March 2019, BNM had already granted three months’ additional time for the proposed merger. Al Rajhi Bank is likely to stay on as a shareholder in the proposed merged entity while PNB would remain its largest shareholder. After the completion of this merger process, MIDF is expected to become an Islamic bank. The merger plan, if it succeeds, would lead to a financial services entity with a combined asset value of MYR 14.09 billion.

Islamic banking industry continues to offer financing to eligible Malaysians: Aibim

The Association of Islamic Banking and Financial Institutions Malaysia (Aibim) has ensured that its member banks will continue to provide access for Islamic finance banking products. Aibim’s president Datuk Adissadikin Ali assured that customers who are eligible will not be deprived from access to financing. He added that customers should also recognise the need to make sound decisions based on their own affordability and in line with their financial conditions. Last year, Islamic banks approved a total of RM37.7 billion, representing 36.7% from the total financing for the purchase of residential properties. They also approved RM12.4 billion of personal financing and supported RM1 billion funding for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

HSBC #Malaysia launches ESG Islamic structured product

HSBC has launched its first environmental, social and governance (ESG) Islamic structured product in Malaysia. The product offered by HSBC Amanah provides customers the opportunity to invest in a product that matches their values when it comes to environmental and social causes. It pays fixed coupon of 3.90% per annum (three years tenor) and 4.50% per annum (four years tenor) in the first two years of the investment. Payout at the end of third and fourth year is subject to Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index performance. Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index tracks the performances of Hong Kong listed companies that excel in corporate sustainability. The CEO of HSBC Amanah Malaysia Arsalaan Ahmed said the introduction of the ESG Islamic Structured Product clearly demonstrates HSBC’s pioneering strength in Islamic finance, particularly with regard to product innovation.

Maybank Islamic wants to link up Gulf Cooperation Council with Asean

Maybank Islamic wants to be the bridge for the Islamic banking sector between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the ASEAN region. CEO Datuk Mohamed Rafique Merican expressed confidence that the company would be able to play the role in facilitating the trade, as well as flow of funds for financial activities between the two regions. Last year, MIB announced that it might receive regulatory approvals to set up its Dubai branch in the first half of 2019. Maybank Islamic has strong footprints in Islamic finance, particularly in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Being the largest Islamic bank in Malaysia, Maybank Islamic has about RM225 billion worth of assets as at Dec 31, 2018 (FY18). Its total gross financing for FY18 advanced 8.1% year-on-year to RM176.8 billion and its Islamic financing contributed 58.7% to the group's total financing.

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