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4 million child trust funds opened in UK

A total of 4.01 million child trust funds have been opened since the scheme stated. Latest data from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) show since January 2005 4.3 million child trust fund vouchers have been issued – but only three-quarters of parents are investing the vouchers. However, parents investing the average GBP 24 a month into an account could provide their offspring with GBP 9,750 at the age of 18, according to estimates from the Children’s Mutual.

Source: 

http://www.myfinances.co.uk/news/investments/child-trust-fund/4m-child-trust-funds-now-open-$1259681.htm

Gulf Finance House launches USD 3 bn project in Tunisia

Xinhua reported on 9 January that Gulf Finance House (GFH) launches a new USD 3 bn project in Tunisia, named "Tunis City Communication". In December 2007 GFH has already announced the "Tunis Financial Harbour", with an investment close to USD 3 bn.

Al Hilal Bank stalls overseas plans

TradeArabia published a Reuters News on 8 January that Abu Dhabi's government-owned Al Hilal Bank is unlikely to break even this year and may slow overseas expansion due to the global crisis but will grow organically in the UAE. Al Hilal became operational in June last year and expected originally to turn a profit in 2009.

Investment Dar is considering selling a stake in real estate firm Oqyana

Gulf Daily News reported on 9 January that Kuwait's Investment Dar, is considering selling a stake in real estate affiliate Oqyana. Daily As-Seyassah said Dar had received an offer from an unidentified Gulf investor to buy 50 % of its stake in Oqyana.

Bank Al Jazira plans USD 40 mn dividend

Ameinfo reported on 8 January that Saudi-based Bank Al Jazira plans a SAR 150 mn or SAR 0.5 a share, cash dividend payout for 2008.

Indonesia to issue retail sukuk in February

Reuters reported on 7 January that Indonesia's finance ministry plans to issue Sukuk for retail investors in February to help finance the state budget said Rahmat Waluyanto, treasury director general at the finance ministry. The yield shall be announced on 5 February and be offered till 20 February, listing on the bourse follows on 26 February.

Gatehouse Bank appoints new head of real estate

Gatehouse Bank released that Philip Churchill has been appointed as Head of Real Estate. Philip Churh has been previously Head of Investment Management, Europe for four years with HDG Mansur, fund manager of the HSBC Amanah Global Properties Income Fund.

New Islamic ETF

US based Javelin Investment Management LLC plans to launch the JETS Dow Jones Islamic Market International Index Fund according to the Wall Street Journal on 8 January. Further details were not provided.

Dubai launches Islamic commodity hedge fund index

Reuters reported on 7 January that the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority (DMCC) and Shariah Capital launched an index tracking the performance of Islamic hedge funds investing in commodities.The index performance will be calculated and reported by Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO). The index is based on four hedge funds, part of the DSAM Kauthar Commodity Fund and investing in gold, energy, natural resources and mining. Each fund has received start capital of $50 million from the DMCC.

Crisis offsets Islamic wealth management 2008 gain

Guardian reported based on Reuters on 7 January that market volatility wiped out all of the asset gains made by the Islamic fund management industry in the year to September 2008, citing US-based research and data provider Cerulli Associates. Sharia-compliant fund managers had assets of USD 65 bn at the end of the 3rd quarter 2008, including assets managed via discretionary mandates for institutions and high net-worth individuals and mutual funds. Assets invested in Islamic-compliant mutual funds rose by 50 % while the number of such funds doubled in the three years to 2008. Islamic mutual funds alone accounted for USD 35 bn-- up from USD 23.2 bn gathered in 2005. Sukuk funds remained a rare offering. Once markets stabilise this industry can potentially expand at a rate of above 10 % a year, the report said. Saudi Arabia is currently the largest domestic market for shariah investments. Challenges named in a poll by Cerulli were named the Sharia compliance costs, convincing investors of the Sharia compliance, the discrepancy in Sharia standards and the lack of 3rd party distribution.

Report order form: http://www.cerulli.com/pdfs/2008_Shariah_Info_Packet.pdf

Qatar Investment Authority invests into local banks USD 3.57 bn

The daily Alqabas reported on 8 January that the Qatar Investment Authority invests Qatary Riyyal 13 billion in the local banking sector, including the three Islamic banks. Qatar International Islamic Bank agreed to the new investor, which is going to hold 20 % of the shares after the capital raise.

Bank of London and the Middle East plc completes GBP 31.5 mn refinancing for client

Bank of London and The Middle East plc (“BLME”), has announced on 7 January the completion of a 3-year GBP 31.5 mn finance transaction for Premio Group Holdings to refinance Premio’s property portfolio in Mayfair, London. This is the first Islamic finance transaction completed by Premio Group Holdings.

Premio Group Holdings is a joint venture between Chelsfield Partners LLP and Rollpost established in December 2005. Premio owns over 50,000 square ft of prime residential and commercial property in London’s Mayfair.

Advisers to both firms were Alexander Marks, SJ Berwin and KPMG for Premio and Herbert Smith LLP for BLME.

Reuters: Turkey's main investors eye possible Sukuk

Cecilia Valente and Selcuk Gokoluk reported on 7 January on Reuters that the Sukuk planned by the Turkish government, finds potential buyers in Turkey's institutional investors like Oyak Emeklilik or AK Portfolio. On average, Turkish pension schemes allocate more than 70 percent of their assets to government bonds, with the rest in shares, repo or bank deposits.

Kuwait's Investment Dar discusses sale of Aston Martin

Ulf Laessing wrote in Reuters on 6 January that Investment Dar, is in talks with a Saudi investor to sell up to 10 % in luxury car maker Aston Martin, citing the daily newspaper Rai. The firm said in December that they would consider to sell up to 20 %. Further Kuwait Finance House may buy Investment Dar's 40 % stake in a Bahraini financial institution. Eventually the newspaper is quoted Investment Dar considers to sell all majority stakes to an investor group to cover liabilities.

Kuwait plans Sukuk to help ailing firms

Gulf Daily News reported on 7 January that Kuwait may issues Sukuk or Murabaha facilities using qualified investment firm's assets as collateral. Citing another daily Al Rai, saying the government had finalised plans for a bill to do so, but may need parliament's approval. Several of the investment firms have said they need fresh funds and have difficulties raising them. Global Investment House and Investment Dar both are said as seeking finance up to USD 1 bn. Further the daily newspaper Al Qabas wrote that Global is still waiting response from foreign financers on a 3-month moratorium to repay elder loans.

Deyaar's contracts will be Shariah-compliant

Business 24/7 reported on 6 January that the real estate developer said that Deyaar's contracts will be Shariah-compliant and they are going to deal exclusively with Islamic banks. Deyaar is an affiliate of Dubai Islamic Bank. Markus Giebel, the CEO of Deyaar has written a column for Business 24/7.

Minhaj Shari'ah Financial Advisory opened in Dubai International Financial Centre

Zawya reported that Dr. Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah the Chairman of Minhaj announced the launch of its operations in DIFC, which will provide advisory and training services. Sheikh Amin Fateh is the resident Sharia Advisor. The other Sharia scholars involved are: Dr. Mohammad Sultan Al Olama, Dr. Muhammad Amin Qattan, Dr. Yousef Abdullah Al-Shubaily, SH. Abdul Sattar Kattan and Dr. Ibrahim Ali Alshal.

About Minhaj
MINHAJ is a DIFC based company specializing in providing Shari'ah financial advisory services, supervision, Shari'ah auditing, revision and training for Islamic and traditional financial institutions. It is the outcome of a partnership between Tharaa Holding and a number of most prominent scholars and specialists in the Islamic financial services industry world wide.

Source: 

http://www.zawya.com/Story.cfm/sidZAWYA20090106092423/Minhaj%20Shari'ah%20Financial%20Advisory%20launched%20in%20DIFC

Noor Investment launches Noor Takaful

AMEInfo reported on 6 January about the announcement of Noor Investment Group to launch its Noor Takaful brand. All services will be offered either through Noor Takaful Family or Noor Takaful General, which are headquartered in Dubai and have a combined paid up capital of Dhs 150 mn, offering a suite of general and family takaful coverage for individuals, businesses and corporate clients. The aim is to expand the reach of these companies to include the Middle East and North African region.

According to Arabian Business, the international expansion plans of Noor are holded for the time.

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/542803-noor-investments-international-exp...

Brunei sells 148 mn in local currency short term Sukuk

Reuters reported on 6th January that Brunei has sold Brunei Dollar 148 million (USD 100.7 mn) of short-term Sukuk, it sold the bonds in four different issuances, with maturity periods ranging from 91 days to 364 days.
This brings total government issuance to Brunei Dollar 1.3 bn to date. Brunei government has been issuing Islamic debt since April 2006.

Alternative to GCC Currency Union?

Chris Cook opined in an Asia Times Online feature as guest writer that the Gulf takes the wrong currency path, commenting on the announced creation of a GCC currency union along the lines of the Euro. He sees the alternative to the central banking model as a peer-to-peer "Gulf Clearing Union" similar to the Swiss Wirtschaftsring-Genossenschaft. WIR members are obliged to give security over their property by way of collateral, it is a monetary system that is "property-backed". The key innovation that will enable a Gulf Clearing Union is the simple expedient of creating - within a suitable legal framework - a "petro" unit redeemable in a constant amount of energy value. Settlement of credit would take place in petros, in goods or services by reference to the petro, or in dollars or other currency acceptable to the seller.

Chris Cook is a former director of the International Petroleum Exchange and is now a strategic market consultant, entrepreneur and commentator.

Swiss WIR bank concept: http://www.wir.ch/

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