China’s foreign reserves post record quarterly drop

China’s foreign-exchange reserves fell by a record in the third quarter as the central bank sold dollars to support the yuan after a surprise August 11 devaluation sparked the currency’s steepest slide in two decades. The stockpile plunged by $180 billion in the three months through September to $3.51 trillion. The hoard shrank $43.3 billion in September, less than the $57 billion predicted in a survey, suggesting the pace of central bank intervention has eased. The central bank has this year lowered the proportion of deposits that lenders must lock away in an effort to offset capital outflows and intervention to support the yuan.


China’s realty player Country Garden plans $340m sukuk bond issue in Malaysia

Chinese property developer Country Garden Holdings Company Ltd plans to issue up to MYR1.5 billion ($340 million) of medium-term sukuk, through its Malaysian subsidiary, to finance the latter’s present and future investments. The issuer, Country Garden Real Estate Sdn Bhd, plans to commence marketing of the first tranche of medium term notes (MTN) to qualified investors. The MTN will not be offered to the general public and will not be listed on any securities exchange, Country Garden said. The mode of issuance, size and coupon rate of the proposed issue will be determined prior to distribution, and is subject to market conditions and investors’ interest. CIMB Investment Bank Berhad was appointed as the lead arranger and lead manager.

Bank following Islamic principles opens

A first-of-its-kind bank following Islamic principles was opened in Xining, capital of China's northwestern Qinghai province. The Jianguo Road Branch of Xining Rural Commercial Bank began operation as Muslims celebrate Eid-ul Adha tomorrow. Before opening, the bank invited an imam from the city's Dongguan Mosque to offer supervision in terms of Islamic doctrines, standard of behaviour and the use of Arabic translations in their services. The bank offers small-sum loans to Muslim customers at 15 per cent of average interest rate as well as guarantee and mortgage services for Mecca pilgrims.

Afridi for Islamic financial laws in businesses

Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) has called for making the businesses and commercial activities in accordance with Islamic financial laws. The PCJCCI President Shah Faisal Afridi said all stakeholders should understand the limitations at this stage and work towards its advancement to develop an economic system truly reflective of the sacred principles of Islam. According to Global Islamic Finance Report, Pakistan ranked at number nine in the world in terms of development of Islamic financial services industry in the country, and second largest Islamic market (population-wise) after Indonesia, and could become the most important player in Islamic banking and finance, if it attained 20 percent market share.

China turns to Islamic finance to expand economic clout

slamic finance is gaining prominence as a channel for China to expand its economic influence abroad as banks strengthen ties with Muslim-majority countries and Chinese companies start to tap offshore pools of Islamic funds. With a Muslim population of about 20 million, China has little reason to develop Islamic banking at home. But there are powerful reasons for it to get involved in the sector overseas. China wants to build stronger trade ties with Asian countries under its "One Belt, One Road" strategy to rebuild Silk Road trade links with Asia and Europe. The network will include the world's main centers of Islamic finance, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Rising momentum of Islamic finance in China

A number of initiatives are demonstrating the rising momentum of Islamic finance in China. Chinese brokerage Southwest Securities forged a partnership with Qatar International Islamic Bank to pave the way for Islamic finance transactions in the country. The Qatari bank confirmed with IFN that it will leverage on this MoU to develop an Islamic finance framework for China. Chinese banking giant, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), through its leasing arm entered into a collaborative agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), which is targeted to focus on multiple lines to develop Islamic capabilities and opportunities.

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.

GCC Banks Help China Break Into Islamic Finance

Qatar International Islamic Bank and QNB Capital signed an agreement in April with China-based Southwest Securities to develop Shariah-compliant finance products in the country. Seven months after Hong Kong sold its debut sukuk, China is exploring Islamic finance for projects from hospitals to metro stations, according to London-based Dome Advisory, which is working with a government-owned fund in Shanghai to finance five projects. Ningxia, an autonomous region in northwest China where a third of the 6.5 million population are Muslim, plans a $1.5 billion sukuk sale. However, country will need to make more regulatory changes to promote Islamic finance.

ICD partners with CHINCA on investment opportunities

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) signed a memorandum of understanding with China International Contractors Association (CHINCA) formalizing the parties’ cooperation in identifying and cultivating investment opportunities in the construction, infrastructure and other key industries by leveraging on areas of expertise and utilizing services currently offered by both parties. The strategic collaboration also aims to build a fruitful networking platform by developing and participating in business-matching forums as a means to identify forces shaping the industry and connect key industry players. CHINCA has more than 1,300 members to date, and about 800 members are engaged in international project contracting and investment.

RHB Adds Shariah Funds in Hong Kong Seeking Greater China Access

A year after debuting an Islamic investment fund in Hong Kong, RHB Asset Management Sdn. plans two more as it seeks to develop awareness in the Chinese market. The first of the new funds, which will target Shariah-compliant stocks and bonds, is due to start this month and the second by the end of September, Ho Seng Yee, chief executive officer of the Kuala Lumpur-based company, said. The existing RHB-OSK Islamic Regional Balanced Fund, which invests in Islamic equities and fixed income, has 15.5 million ringgit ($4.3 million) of assets. While China presents significant opportunities for Islamic financial institutions, there are challenges including the need for changes to the tax laws.

Hong Kong, Ningxia to emerge as China's Islamic finance centres

With China showing growing interest to participate in the global Islamic finance market, the country is working on establishing hubs for Shariah banking within its borders. The first such centre to emerge will undoubtedly be the southern metropolis of Hong Kong which is very serious about becoming an East Asian hub for Islamic finance with a side glance on its regional competitor Singapore. But many eyes are also on China's majority-Muslim autonomous province of Ningxia in the northwestern part of the country. Ningxia plans a $1.5bn debut sukuk sale as early as this year. The deal, managed by Nanchang-based AVIC Securities, will be China's first local-government overseas bond issuance and the first Islamic bond issued by a province.

How Islamic finance could be about to take off in China

Despite this global spread, mainland China remains a major market that Islamic finance has not yet reached. But this could be set to change in the coming years – and one province in particular is leading the way. Ningxia, in the north-west of China, is an autonomous region where 35% of the population is Muslim and there has recently been talk of establishing an Islamic Financial Centre there in the next five to seven years. In September 2014, Ningxia Halal Food International Trade Certification Centre that established in January 2008 became the first Halal certification body in China with government’s stamp of approval. Moreover, in recent years, trade between China and the Middle East has considerably increased.

ICD and ICBC sign agreement in Beijing

ICBC Financial Leasing signed a landmark collaboration agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The two entities will work together across multiple lines to develop Islamic capabilities and opportunities and assist economic evolution across ICD member countries: including the provision of financing and banking services such as Ijarah, placement of funds, lines of finance and liquidity management; as well as technical assistance, training and expertise. The parties also plan to encourage and implement co-financing, club deal and syndication projects for eligible private sector projects.

China's ICBC eyes Islamic finance in tie-up with IDB

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the IDB's private sector arm, will cooperate with ICBC Financial Leasing, a wholly owned subsidiary of ICBC, China's biggest lender by assets. China's population of Muslims is estimated at over 20 million but there is very little if any Islamic finance activity inside the country, and it is not clear whether the industry will develop the legal and regulatory backing to develop there. However, some Chinese companies see Islamic finance as a way to expand their trade and investment in fast-growing Muslim majority markets such as the Gulf and southeast Asia, and to access pools of capital there.

How Islamic finance could be about to take off in China

China remains a major market that Islamic finance has not yet reached. But this could be set to change in the coming years – and one province in particular is leading the way. Ningxia, in the north-west of China, is an autonomous region where 35% of the population is Muslim and there has recently been talk of establishing an Islamic Financial Centre there in the next five to seven years. Local laws and tax regulations need to be modified to permit shariah-compliant investments. However, the effort could be undermined by cultural insensitivities such as allowing Muslim restaurants to serve alcohol alongside halal food. The growth potential of Islamic finance in China is huge given the country’s 1.3 billion population.

Qatari banks, Southwest Securities plan Islamic finance venture in China

Two Qatari banks and Chinese brokerage Southwest Securities signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a company handling Islamic finance deals in China, Qatar's central bank governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani said on Tuesday. The banks are Qatar National Bank and Qatar International Islamic Bank. No further details of the venture were immediately available.

China donates 500,000 USD to restore water to Maldives capital

The Chinese government has donated 500,000 U.S. dollars to the Maldives government to speed up repairs in a desalination plant and restore water to the capital. The donation was done after the Maldives government announced an estimated 20 million U.S. dollars would be needed to repair the plant that was damaged in a fire on Thursday resulting in the capital's population of 130,000 being without water for four days. The country hopes to also get monetary aid from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and other Arab governments. Private donors have also chipped in with an anonymous 1 million U. S. dollars coming in from a Saudi businessman.

Regional Conflicts in the South China Sea Could Rival the Middle East One Day

The South China Sea reportedly holds 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas; some experts estimate even more. Unfortunately, there's no clear way to define who "owns" these resources, as China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei all believe some, or all, of these resources belong to them. Many of these countries are forced to import a considerable percentage of their overall demand. Investors need to keep an eye on Southeast Asia, and the South China Sea in particular. The oil in place under that sea, as well as its importance as a trade route, could push some nations to the boiling point as they rush to secure their supply of oil. That's a catalyst for some stocks, while a big risk for others.

Support for Hong Kong Islamic financial market

More measures to encourgae the development of the Hong Kong’s Islamic financial market, particularly the sukuk and the Islamic fund management industry were discussed during the first meeting of the Joint Finance Forum which was held in the special administrative region. The forum participants agreed to identify potential sukuk issuers and encourage cross-border sukuk issuances between Hong Kong and Malaysia. Moreover, they also agreed to consider launching Islamic funds and make use of the established mutual recognition framework for Islamic funds between Hong Kong and Malaysia to facilitate cross-border Islamic financial activities.

Hong Kong still a long way from being an Islamic finance hub

Hong Kong's government has proposed a new law allowing it to issue Islamic sovereign bonds. This is a grand plan but maybe a little too ambitious. This is not the first time the government has promoted Islamic finance but not much has been achieved. The Hong Kong government now plans to issue sukuk. But whether a government issue will encourage other companies to follow with their own offerings remains a big question mark. The government has already launched the government bond and ibond programme but the local debt market is still not very active. Brokers speculate the Hong Kong government wants to promote Islamic bonds because Beijing wants to have a good relationship with Middle Eastern countries. If that is true, it may be up to some mainland companies to issue sukuk.

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