Reuters

#Qatar banks face liquidity challenge over Arab diplomatic feud

Qatari banks may need more cash injections from the state because of the risk of investor withdrawals. Banks have been feeling the fallout of the feud with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, which cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed economic sanctions. They accuse Qatar of financing Islamist militant groups and allying with their regional adversary Iran. Because of the sanctions, several Qatar banks have seen an outflow of deposits. Fitch Ratings estimates that the majority of deposits in Qatar from other Gulf Cooperation Council countries are Saudi and United Arab Emirates' deposits, and that they are being withdrawn as they mature. Analysts expect funding challenges for the Qatari banks, considering the government would still intend to continue their project plans for FIFA 2022.

#Pakistan sets rules for banks wanting to be fully sharia compliant

Pakistan's central bank has issued guidelines for banks that want to be fully-fledged sharia compliant, setting a three-year time frame for applicants to complete the process. The rules aim to accelerate the growth of Islamic banking in the country. Eligible applicants must have existing Islamic finance operations and the conversion process must start within six months of approval. After the conversion of conventional branches, the applicant can then apply for a fully-fledged Islamic banking license. Such conversions are rare in Islamic finance but are seen as a way to increase the scale of the bank and widen its reach into under-served rural areas. Islamic banking in Pakistan currently includes five fully-fledged Islamic banks and 16 conventional banks offering Islamic financial products. As of March, they held assets worth 1.9 trillion rupees ($17.9 billion), a 16% increase from a year earlier and 11.7% of total banking assets. However, their capitalization and profitability ratios remain below the industry average.

UAE's Dana Gas will try again to hold call on #sukuk restructuring

Dana Gas has rescheduled a telephone call with sukuk holders to this Thursday at 4 p.m. The call would outline the company's proposal to restructure its outstanding $700 million of sukuk. Dana is claiming it must exchange the instruments because they are no longer lawful following changes in Islamic finance. The company had originally scheduled the call for June 21, but on that day it decided to postpone the call. Dana said it made several approaches to an ad hoc committee of creditors to arrange a call but each invitation was declined.

Fitch: Dana Gas Case Highlights #Sukuk Legal Uncertainties

According to Fitch Ratings, credit rating implications for sukuk arising from Dana Gas's attempt to have its mudaraba sukuk declared unlawful will take time to emerge. The impact of the move remains unclear until all relevant proceedings are resolved. Fitch added that sharia compliance typically does not have credit implications for Fitch-rated sukuk. Fitch does not rate Dana Gas or its sukuk. Dana Gas started court proceedings in the UAE to have its sukuk declared unlawful and unenforceable in the UAE. Sukuk regulations have been introduced and updated in several countries in recent years, but standardisation, harmonisation and legal precedents are limited in most jurisdictions. This case could set an important precedent for the relationship between sharia compliance and credit risk, and give greater clarity on enforceability.

#UAE's Dana Gas gets injunction from English court blocking claims on $700 mln #sukuk

Dana Gas obtained an injunction from the English High Court of Justice in London restraining sukuk holders from taking any hostile action against the company. The company obtained similar injunctions from the Sharjah Federal Court of First Instance in the United Arab Emirates as well. Dana Gas announced last week that its outstanding $700 million sukuk were not sharia-compliant and were therefore unlawful in the UAE. The company said it would therefore halt coupon payments on the sukuk, and proposed exchanging the sukuk for new Islamic bonds with lower profit distributions.

#UAE's Dana Gas invites #sukuk holders to a call to discuss sukuk's "unlawfulness"

Abu Dhabi's Dana Gas has invited holders of its outstanding $700 million sukuk to discuss the planned sukuk restructuring. The energy company plans to provide background on its declaration of the current sukuk's "unlawfulness". Dana Gas announced last week that its sukuk were not sharia-compliant and were therefore unlawful in the UAE.

BRIEF-Al Izz Islamic Bank expresses interest in #merger with United Finance

Alizz Islamic Bank has expressed interest in the possibility of strategic merger with United Finance subject to conducting due diligence. No legally binding commitment has been made and the transaction remains subject to approval by the regulators and other stakeholders.

#Morocco opens first Islamic bank branch months after approval

The first Islamic bank in Morocco, Umnia Bank, has opened its doors five months after the central bank's approval. The North African country long rejected Islamic banking because of concern about Islamist movements, but its financial markets lack liquidity and investors. Umnia Bank is a joint venture of Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and Moroccan lender Credit Immobilier et Hotelier (CIH Bank). Umnia recently opened a total of three agencies, two in Casablanca and one in Rabat. The bank plans to open more branches throughout the country. Morocco is the most advanced of North African neighbours in developing Islamic finance. Tunisia and Algeria are also starting to explore the sector.

BRIEF-Kuwait Finance House denies any decision to merge with Ahli United Bank

Kuwait Finance House denies any decision to merge with Ahli United Bank. Kuwait Finance House is currently studying many other strategic alternatives to enlarge its profitability and marketshare among local and regional banks.

#Qatar Islamic Bank's dollar #sukuk books top $1 billion -lead

Order books for Qatar Islamic Bank's planned dollar five-year sukuk have topped $1 billion. The senior unsecured deal is part of a $3 billion sukuk programme. It will be of benchmark size, which conventionally means upwards of $500 million. Initial price guidance for the Islamic bond was 145-155 basis points over mid-swaps. Citi, Emirates NBD Capital, HSBC, Noor Bank, QInvest and Standard Chartered Bank have been appointed to lead the transaction.

#UAE’s Dana Gas begins refinancing talks on $700 mln #sukuk

United Arab Emirates' energy producer Dana Gas has started refinancing discussions with the holders of its $700 million sukuk maturing in October 2017. The company has faced a cash shortage in the last period and is now planning to restructure its dollar sukuk which was issued in May 2013. Dana Gas CEO Patrick Allman-Ward refused to comment. The energy producer in April repaid an outstanding $60 million loan for its Zora gas field project in the UAE to avoid a breach on the facility. Dana is owed receivables of about $1 billion from Egypt and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Its cash balance as of the end of March was $298 million, slightly below $302 million as of the end of last year. To focus on cash preservation, the company reduced its operational and capital spending in the first quarter.

#Turkish wealth #fund head says signed Islamic mortgage deal with IDB

Turkey's new sovereign wealth fund has signed a framework agreement with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to develop Islamic mortgages. Turkey's government has already transferred stakes worth billions of dollars in Turkish Airlines, major banks and other companies to the wealth fund to finance big-ticket infrastructure projects. Fund chairman Mehmet Bostan said the fund had authority to support mega projects but its priority is to invest in leading global industries in areas like technology, telecoms and energy. Bostan said financial technology was one of the fund's areas of operation, adding it was working on a joint payment platform and mobile banking. He added that the Turkish fund has received invites from other national funds and was negotiating with two of them after signing an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

Albaraka Turk secures $213 million Islamic #loan

Turkish lender Albaraka Turk has secured a $213 million murabaha-based loan syndication, up from the $150 million it initially sought. The bank said the profit margin for the 370-day sharia-compliant facility was 125 basis points over three-month LIBOR. The lender had appointed ABC Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital Ltd, Qatar Islamic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank to arrange the transaction. The bank is a unit of the Al Baraka Banking Group, which is also planing to issue dollar-denominated sukuk.

Head of #Islamic #finance body #IFSB to #retire

The secretary general of the IFSB will retire next week, according to a statement. Jaseem Ahmed will step down middle of April after leading the IFSB 6 years.
The process for the selection of a new secretary general has begun. Zahid ur Rehman Khokher acting as interim secretary general.

#Bank #of #England plans liquidity tool for #Islamic #banks

The Bank of England said it would develop a sharia-compliant liquidity tool for use by Islamic banks, to attract business from the industry's core centres. London has for some time sought to position itself as a global hub for Islamic finance.
The central bank has issued a consultation paper on a fund-based deposit model, that would help Islamic lenders to meet regulatory requirements for liquid asset buffers. It was stated, that the facility is unlikely to be ready before the spring of 2018, and it has yet to decide on whether it will develop a liquidity insurance facility. However, the tool would be a welcomed development for Britain's Islamic banks. These include Gatehouse Bank, the Bank of London and the Middle East, Al Rayan Bank and a unit of Qatar Islamic Bank.
The pricing would be comparable with conventional tools, and attractive for Islamic banks.

#Merger of three #Qatari #banks to take six months

The merger of Qatari banks Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar is said to take six months to complete, Masraf Al Rayan’s chairman Hussain Ali al-Abdulla said lately. In December Reuters had reported that merger talks had begun which, if successful, would create the Gulf state’s second-largest bank. The new bank would have assets worth more than 160 billion riyals ($44 billion).
KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers have been appointed as merger advisers, along with law firm Allen & Overy as legal adviser, and furthermore the Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar. Masraf Al Rayan’s shareholders approved the issuance of sukuk worth up to $2 billion to meet the bank’s liquidity needs. In January banks had been appointed to handle a debut sukuk issue of around $500 million, banking sources told Reuters that month, but Abdullah said on Sunday the timing of the issue had not been finalised. Asked whether the bank’s liquidity had been affected by low oil prices Abudullah said “liquidity now is better than in 2016” and that the U.S. Federal Reserve’s raising of interest rates last month would improve the profits of Qatari banks.

Shareholders at #Qatar's Masraf Al Rayan approve #sukuk #issuance for up to $2bln

The shareholders of Qatar's Masraf Al Rayan, an Islamic lender, approved the issuance of sukuk worth up to $2 billion to meet the bank's liquidity needs on Sunday. The Gulf state's second largest lender by market value appointed banks in January to handle a debut sukuk issue of around $500 million, banking sources told Reuters that month.

#Malaysia's Maybank Islamic looks to home markets to drive growth

Maybank Islamic is turning to its home markets for growth, in particularly Indonesia where it manages $2 billion worth of assets and is aiming to compete with domestic Islamic banks. According to CEO Mohamed Rafique Merican, the bank could grow beyond its core markets of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, but expansion in other markets would be opportunistic. Indonesia remains a key market for the bank, after Malaysia which accounts for 90% of the bank's business. As part of the ASEAN banking integration framework (ABIF), Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed in August to give their banks greater access to each other's markets. The move would give Malaysia's Islamic banks a potential lead to tap into the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, and one that continues to restrict to foreign lenders.

#Pakistan updates guidance for Islamic banks' external #audits

Pakistan's central bank has updated guidance on sharia governance for Islamic finance institutions. The goal is to expand the scope of external audits to help mitigate conflicts of interest and increase transparency. Those religious scholars who are members of an Islamic bank's sharia board are now barred from serving in any external audit firm. From now on, external sharia audits will have to cover pool-management practices and technology systems. This includes the way Islamic banks calculate distribution of profit and loss to depositors, the tracking of assets, and the allocation of income and expenses. The move is designed to separate the verification of profit and loss distribution between the banks and the external auditors, in contrast to the joint verification that was allowed under earlier guidance.

#Turkey's grain board TMO, Gap Insaat to sell debut Islamic #bonds

Turkey's state grain board TMO and construction firm Gap Insaat have received regulatory approval for debut sukuk sales. Turkey has seen steady issuance of sukuk from the government and the country's Islamic banks, but an increase in corporate issuance could help tap into a much wider stable of issuers. According to the country's Capital Markets Board, the TMO will raise 150 million lira ($41.6 million) via a sukuk that will be arranged by Islamic lender Kuveyt Turk. Turkey is seeking to build a bigger role in the industry and forge closer ties with fast-growing economies in the Gulf and southeast Asia. The Turkish Treasury hired banks to arrange a sale of sukuk in the international markets, with meetings set to begin this week in the United Arab Emirates.

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