GFH reports progress in legal proceedings

Islamic investment bank GFH has reported that Bahrain’s High Civil Court has dismissed the Labor Case (amounting to $13.8 million) filed by Esam Janahi against GFH. The case had been filed by Janahi against GFH in June 2014, following several claims raised by the bank against him. All other cases filed by GFH against Janahi are still in progress. GFH also reported that the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution has awarded judgement in favour of GFH in a legal case amounting to $11.47 million (BHD 4.3 million) plus profits. The case was filed by GFH against Abu Dhabi Investment House and Qatar Entertainment City Company (QEC) pertaining to GFH’s investment in QEC.

Social Housing Finance Programme exhibition launched

Bahrains Housing Ministry launched the second Social Housing Finance Programme exhibition. The event is one of the ministry's efforts to inform about the programme launched in October 2013.

Capital Adequacy: Al Baraka Bank complies with Basel III requirement

The General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) held an In-focus session on Basel III and Islamic banks during the 21st World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) in Bahrain. The three prominent Islamic banks, Islamic International Arab Bank, Al Baraka Banking Group, and Bank of Khartoum, showed that they currently have sufficient levels of capital, far beyond what is required under Basel III. Al Baraka Banking Group's recent issuance of Tier-1 Basel III-compliant Sukuk in Pakistan reflects the Group's desire to adapt positively to the dynamic nature of regulatory regimes in the years ahead rather than any shortage of capital.

Bahrain's GFH inks JV deal to kickstart $3bn Tunis project

Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House has signed a joint venture with France's Alliance International Holding which is likely to kick-start the Tunis Bay project. Tunis Bay is part of the overall $3 billion Tunis Financial Harbour project. Alliance International Holding is a French consortium which specialises in the building of golf course projects and new community developments. It said it has signed a deal with the GFH-owned Tunis Bay Project Company which will see more than 800,000 sq m of land developed into a golf course with surrounding villas and apartments. Construction work by the joint venture will start next year as part of the first phase of the Tunis Bay development.

GCC Board Directors Institute Workshop held in Bahrain in partnership with Investcorp

GCC Board Directors Institute ("BDI") released insights that Board composition and selection were identified as key priorities in the corporate governance choices faced by GCC businesses, as highlighted during the Institute's Foundations of Directorship Workshop held in partnership with Investcorp on 7-9 Dec 2014 in Bahrain. BDI's Foundations of Directorship workshop is hands-on and experiential where participants are presented with contemporary issues and challenges that boards in the GCC are faced with. The workshop held by BDI in Bahrain this week, was in partnership with Investcorp , a founding member of BDI.

INTERVIEW-Bahrain's Al Baraka to open Islamic bank in Morocco

Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group plans to set up an Islamic bank in Morocco next year with a capital of USD 50 million, CEO Adnan Ahmed Yousif said. Last month, Morocco's parliament gave final approval to an Islamic finance bill that allows foreign banks and local lenders to set up Islamic banks in the North African country. Yousif declined to name the potential partners, but said the new bank would be established in 2015 with a plan to open 10 branches in the first year of operations. He said Al Baraka expected to record growth of 12% in assets, of 11% in deposits and of 10% in income during 2015.

Bahrain bank says CEO has resigned for 'personal reasons'

BMI Bank, a subsidiary of Bahrain's Al Salam Bank (ASBB), has announced that Jamal Al-Hazeem, director and CEO of the bank had stepped down. Al-Hazeem who took on the helm of BMI Bank in 2010 as CEO, cited personal reasons for his resignation and called the decision to step down as CEO of the Bank as "mutual and amicable". He will continue to stay on as a director on the board at BMI Bank which is currently finalising the operational aspects of its merger with Al Salam Bank as it converts its business to a Sharia compliant one.

Bahrain to develop central Sharia board for Islamic banks

Bahrain's central bank is setting up a central sharia board to help oversee Islamic finance products in the kingdom and will introduce new rules to strengthen governance in the sector, central bank governor Rasheed al-Maraj said. Traditionally, Islamic banks have practiced self regulation to ensure the sharia-compliance of their products, but a centralised model is increasingly being favoured across the global industry. The central bank will introduce new sharia governance rules to expand the internal sharia review and audit functions, while making it mandatory for banks to have an independent external sharia audit.

AAOIFI membership for Kazakhstan bank

The National Bank of Kazakhstan, the central bank and financial services regulator, has taken up membership in Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). The signing ceremony to commemorate the membership was held on December 2 at WIBC 2014. The agreement was signed by National Bank of Kazakhstan deputy governor Nurlan Kussainov and AAOIFI secretary-general Dr Hamed Hassan Merah. Dr Merah said the membership would allow AAOIFI to work more closely with the National Bank of Kazakhstan and the finance industry in the country to support continuing development of Islamic finance.

Ibdar Bank’s landmark $100m lease agreement with Ethiopian Airlines pays first dividend

Bahrain-based Ibdar Bank successfully concludes the structuring of a 12-year agreement expiring in 2026 for acquiring four brand new Bombardier Q400 Next Gen aircrafts and leasing them to the Ethiopian Airlines. The agreement that was structured under a joint venture with Dubai-based operating lessor Palma Holding, includes options for an additional four Q400 NextGen aircraft, which Ibdar Bank intends to exercise in the near future. Valued at USD 100 million, Ibdar Bank contributed as investor with USD 22 million, while an amount of USD 78 million was secured through a funding agreement with Canada’s Export Credit Agency “EDC”.

Islamic finance body IIFM to develop trade, corporate finance contracts

The Bahrain-based International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) will develop contract templates for sharia-compliant corporate finance and trade finance transactions, as the industry body expands its mandate. IIFM is aiming to double the number of its standards by as early as next year. The new standards would help broaden the scope of IIFM, as the body works to harmonise industry practices, said Khalid Hamad, executive director of banking supervision at Bahrain's central bank and IIFM chairman. Trade finance has remained a marginal business for Islamic banks even as other areas have boomed in recent years, partly because of a lack of scale and expertise compared to larger and more established Western banks.

Bahraini bank GFH targets majority Khaleeji Commercial Bank stake - CNBC

Bahrain's Gulf Finance House (GFH) plans to up its stake in Khaleeji Commercial Bank (KCB) to gain majority ownership, its chairman Ahmed al-Mutawa said. The investment firm will increase its stake in KCB to between 52 percent and 54 percent once it has received regulatory approval from the Bahraini authorities. GFH currently owns 47 percent of KCB. Increasing its stake to the range indicated by Mutawa would cost GFH between 2.65 million dinars and 3.72 million dinars ($7.03 million-$9.87 million). KCB and unlisted Bahraini lender Bank Al Khair dropped merger plans in March after they failed to agree terms for the tie-up.

New opportunities open for Islamic banking in Bahrain

Bahrain’s role in expanding the global reach of sharia-compliant financing looks set to broaden further through three developments firmed up recently. In July, a joint venture was formed between the kingdom’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), to promote the sector by offering training, software and sharia-compliant financing. Moreover, a second partnership offering training programmes and research was announced between the UK-based consultancy Islamic Finance Advisory and Assurance Services (IFAAS) and the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF). Finally, the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) is working on a contract template for sukuk, due in early 2015.

The Bahrain Businesswomen’s Society organizes “Women Entrepreneurship and Innovation” Conference

The Bahrain Businesswomen’s Society in collaboration with the UNIDO organized the “Women Entrepreneurship and Innovation” Conference which coincides with the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Muharraq. The forum aims to will inspire women entrepreneur’s participants to achieve their potential in business and train them to be innovative and take advantage of business networks and how to communicate with investors and sponsors, and how to discover new opportunities and possibilities. The Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr. Hassan Fakhro said that the number of individual institutions that belong to women in the Kingdom of Bahrain has increased by 10.3% in 2013 compared to 2012.

Islamic finance body AAOIFI to revise four standards, eyes sukuk

The Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) will revise four of its standards in the first half of next year while expanding its guidance for Islamic bonds. AAOIFI's new secretary general, Hamed Hassan Merah, said the standard setting body is looking at the possiblity of developing clearer guidance on sukuk that will incorporate accounting, legal, technical and tax-related aspects. Besides, a revised investment accounts standard is to be released by the end of 2014. Consultations on takaful, ijara and murabaha will be conducted in the first half of 2015, AAOIFI said. On takaful, AAOIFI is considering how to extend its guidance to retakaful, and clarifying the definition of benevolent loans (qard hassan).

Bahrain’s GFH Completes Capital Reduction Plan, Cuts Losses

Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House has completed a capital reduction plan, a move that helps the Islamic investment firm to cut accumulated losses. It had received approval from the Bahraini authorities for the step, which reduces the nominal value of its shares by 13.8 per cent to $0.265 per share from $0.3075. As a result, paid-up capital had been reduced to $837.9 million from $972.3 million. Accumulated losses on GFH’s balance sheet had been reduced by $134.4 million under the measure. The reduction doesn’t involve any cash transfer and doesn’t impact on shareholder positions as the bank’s net equity remains unchanged.

Bahrain’s Arcapita Raises $100 Million After Exiting Chapter 11

Bahrain’s Arcapita Bank BSC has raised $100 million from shareholders to fund a return to dealmaking a year after it emerged from bankruptcy. The new equity will be used to fund Shariah compliant private equity and real-estate investments in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait. Arcapita will also look at U.S., Asian and European investments at a later stage. Arcapita emerged from bankruptcy in September 2013 after securing a $350 million loan from Goldman Sachs Group. Under the terms of its debt restructuring, a new company called RA Holding Corp. was created to manage Arcapita’s $3 billion of assets. Arcapita earned $10.1 million in the fiscal year ended June, mostly from fees for managing RA on behalf of creditors.

BBK contributes to Philanthropic and development societies in Bahrain

In line with BBK’s strategic initiatives for a brighter community, Dr. Jamal Hijris- General Manager- Support Group welcomed at the Bank’s Headquarters, representatives from various societies dedicated to the philanthropic and development work to receive BBK’s contributions for their requests. The entities that have benefited from the BBK support totaling BD12,500 are: Al Noor Charity Welfare, Drug recovery association and Bahrain Philanthropic and Social Work Society. Troughout the years, BBK has supported entities including major clubs, charity funds and social initiatives. These initiatives are aimed at achieving the sole goal and vision of a brighter future and community in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Tadhamon International Islamic Bank appoints new CEO at Tadhamon Capital BSC

Tadhamon International Islamic Bank, a Sharia'a-compliant Bank licensed by the Central Bank of Yemen, has announced management changes in its investment arm in Bahrain, Tadhamon Capital BSC, by appointing Mr. Ahmed Hatam Sultan as its new Chief Executive Officer. In addition and as part of Tadhamon Capital's new changes, the company has appointed Mr. Hesham Al Gassab as the Executive Director of Investments overlooking the investment portfolio managed by the company and Mr. Maisarh Yaseen Omar as Director of the Treasury Department. Tadhamon Capital specializes in structuring and managing new investments and products across its business lines, consisting of Real Estate, Alternative Investments, Treasury & Capital Markets and Investor Relations.

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