AME Info

Eiger Trading releases 24/7 automated retail and wholesale Murabaha platform

Eiger Trading launched the first ever fully-automated, Shariah-compliant 24/7 Commodity Murabaha platform, in conjunction with Gulf International Bank’s (GIB) KSA retail arm, under the ‘Meem’ brand name. This fully-automated Islamic e-banking solution offers 24/7 online personal finance and deposits to retail clients in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Eiger and GIB’s combined technology provides online customers with a 24/7 real-time mechanism for executing Shariah-compliant transactions, using commodities all of which are located and deliverable within the Kingdom.

GFH reports $88.2m revenues and $10.6m net profits for H1 of year 2014

Bahrain based Gulf Finance House (GFH) announced its financial results for the first half of 2014 ended June 30, 2014. GFH reported a net profit of $10.6m for the period compared with $4.2m for the prior year period. The Bank’s consolidated profits rose by 152% in current period compared to the prior year period although an impairment of $10m was conservatively taken. Net profit for the second quarter of 2014 was $9.5m. Total income for the first half of 2014 was $88.2m compared with $24.5m for the same period of the year 2013. Operating expenses for the period were $67.6m. GFH made debt repayments of approximately $7m during the period, representing a reduction of approximately 3.5% of the Bank’s total financing liabilities.

Al Baraka Banking Group raises its profit to $143m during H1 of 2014 and total assets exceeding $22bn

Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group B.S.C (ABG) announced a net profit of $143m for the first half of 2014. While balance sheet items increased moderately: total assets increased by 5%, total financing and investments by 5%, customer accounts by 5% and total equity by 3% at the end of June 2014 compared to the end of December 2013. With regard to the results of the second quarter of the year 2014 compared with the results of the first quarter of the same year, total operating income increased by 9% to reach $232m, while net operating income increased by a large percentage of 31% to reach $110m, and net income increased by 15% to $76m.

Latham & Watkins advises Mobily on $200m murabaha facility

Latham & Watkins advised Etihad Etisalat Company (Mobily), a telecommunications operator in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in connection with a $200m murabaha facility made available by Export Development Canada. The facility will be used by Mobily to purchase eligible goods and services supplied to it by affiliates and subsidiaries of Alcatel Lucent S.A., including Alcatel Lucent, Canada Inc. This transaction represents Mobily’s third ECA-backed Islamic financing following on from its $646m murabaha facility with the support of Exportkreditnämnden and Finnvera plc in August 2013. In 2014 Latham & Watkins advised Mobily in connection with its $561m murabaha facilities made available by Exportkreditnämnden and Finnvera plc.

Number of entries for ADIB & Thomson Reuters’ Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge and Awards (EFICA) exceeds last year

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) and Thomson Reuters’ second Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge and Awards (EFICA) have already received high levels of take-up with over 200 potential entrants downloading the application form, to date. The submission for the awards opened on 5th of July and will close on the 5th of August. ADIB and Thomson Reuters are calling on institutions, research centres, and individuals to submit entries in three categories. The first category of the awards, the Islamic Finance Industry Development Award, offers a prize of $100,000, the second award, the Ethical Finance Initiative Award, offers a prize of $50,000 and the final award is a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Qatar Foundation calls for minimum pay for construction workers

A study commissioned by Qatar Foundation on foreign labour recruitment to Qatar has called on the authorities to fix a minimum wage for all occupations in the construction sector and ensure timely payment of salaries. The report, titled “Migrant Labour Recruitment to Qatar”, was commissioned as part of the Qatar Foundation Migrant Worker Welfare Initiative. An assigned minimum wage for all occupations in the construction sector in Qatar, regardless of nationality, would help to prevent the exploitation of workers from particular countries, said the report. Moreover, cost of food should not be linked to wages.

Egypt gets $300m interest-free loan

Egypt’s minister of industry, commerce and small and medium enterprises, Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour has said the World Bank has approved a $300m interest-free loan to fund Egyptian micro and small enterprises (MSEs). The Egyptian government plans to cooperate with the World Bank in building infrastructure for small and medium enterprises, particularly in the impoverished Upper Egyptian governorates, Abdel-Nour said during his meeting with a delegation from the World Bank.

Strategic Partnership between FALCOM Financial Services and SEDCO Capital in Saudi Arabia

FALCOM Financial Services and SEDCO Capital signed a strategic partnership agreement, according to which SEDCO Capital will manage the investment portfolio of FALCOM Arab Markets registered at the Capital Market Authority. Yazan Abdeen, Fund Manager at SEDCO Capital, will manage FALCOM Arab Markets Fund. Yazan has an experience of more than 12 years in analyzing and evaluating companies in the Middle East and offering professional services to clients through managing equity funds in Middle East markets. Established in 2005, FALCOM Financial Services has a paid capital exceeding one billion SAR.

SEDCO Holding Group’s Riyali Program to train 30,000 students in 2014

SEDCO Holding Group’s Riyali Financial Literacy Program has recently signed partnership agreements with the Noble Center for Comprehensive Development and Al-Andalus Al-Khadra Training Center to provide training workshops for university students, as well as, elementary and secondary school students. Under the agreement, each center will aim to train 15,000 male and female university students and elementary school students during 2014 with each center approaching various schools and universities to offer free Riyali courses to students. The program, launched in late 2012, aims to improve financial practices among Saudi youth and kids, such as in financial planning, budgeting, investing and borrowing.

SAGIA to issue licences within 5 days

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has unveiled new regulations and conditions to promote value-added investment and said investment licences may be issued within five days if all the required papers are submitted. Governor of SAGIA, Abdullatif Al-Othman, said they have introduced a speedy customer service system for the benefit of all investors.

Amlak proposes new deal on $2.7bn debt restructuring

Dubai-based Islamic mortgage provider Amlak Finance has proposed a new deal to restructure about $2.7bn in debt. The company, part-owned by Emaar Properties, said it met lenders last month to present the deal. If the deal is agreed, Amlak will make an initial 20% down payment to depositors worth about Dhs2bon ($545m). The remaining debt to “commercial depositors” will be paid over 12 years, with about Dhs1.4bn turned into a convertible instrument. and Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Ltd. launch ‘Change is in Your Hands’ campaign to alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship in MENA and Turkey

The crowdfunding platform Kiva and Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Ltd. have partnered to launch ‘Change is in Your Hands’. The campaign enables individuals who want to help entrepreneurs with a plan. As part of the launch, Grameen-Jameel is offering up to 13,000 visitors to a ‘free trial’, the equivalent of $25 to lend to the entrepreneur of their choice. To double the campaign’s impact, Grameen-Jameel is also matching up to $665,000 in loans made by Kiva lenders. In total, Grameen-Jameel has committed $1 million to this campaign. Loans that meet both traditional and Islamic financing standards are available. ‘Change is in Your Hands’ will focus as a first step on lending to support entrepreneurship among women and youth in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, and Turkey.

The largest islamic economic gathering celebrates 40 years of dedicated service

The Islamic Development Bank Group is holding its Annual Meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from 22-26 June 2014 and celebrating the IDB’s 40th Year Anniversary. The meetings will be attended by finance and economy ministers of the (56) member countries and more than 1,000 delegates. The Annual Meeting of the IDB Group will take place over a five-day period in conjunction with sub-meetings. Meanwhile, on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the IDB Group, a number of events will be held including a forum titled “Fostering Dynamic Ecosystems in Developing Economies”, which will be held on June 23, 2014. In addition, an exhibition on innovation will be held alongside the Annual Meeting, with more than 40 innovative projects and solutions from 19 member countries.

Middle East investors expected to spend $180 billion in global real estate markets over next decade

Middle Eastern investors are expected to spend $180 billion in commercial real estate markets outside of their own region over the next decade, according to the latest research from global property advisor CBRE. Europe is the preferred target with 80% of the $180 billion (around $145 billion) targeted for the region over the next 10 years. While some increase in interest towards the Americas is expected, the need for Middle East investors to diversify away from US dollar-dominated investments will counteract the fundamental attractiveness of real estate as an asset choice. CBRE estimates that about 10% of the capital (around $18 billion) will flow into the region.

KFH chief executive steps down amid management restructuring

The CEO of Kuwait Finance House (KFH), the Gulf country’s largest Islamic lender, has reportedly stepped down, according to two company sources. Mohammed al-Omar’s resignation as CEO is linked to wider management changes at KFH, one of the sources said.

KFH research limited: Sovereign and Quasi-Sovereign issuers drive global primary sukuk market in 1Q-2014

According to the newly released report “Global Sukuk Report 1Q2014” by Kuwait Finance House Research Limited (KFHR), the global sukuk market saw a modest volume of USD31.14bln in new sukuk issuances in 1Q2014, a drop of 15.2% as compared to 4Q13. The drop in issuance volume stems from a noteworthy slowdown in the GCC sukuk issuances in 1Q14. Consistent with the trend over past several quarters, the primary sukuk market was led by sovereign and quasi-sovereign issuers who collectively accounted for 81% of the global primary sukuk market issuances in 1Q14. As an outlook for 2014, the sovereign sukuk sector is of much stakeholder interest this year. As a result, despite the modest primary market momentum in 1Q14, the global primary sukuk market is expected to once again surpass the USD100bln mark in new sukuk issuances this year.

Saudi Electricity’s sukuk issue oversubscribed

The Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) has successfully managed to price and allocate two global sukuk, worth $2.5bn (SR9.37bn). The bonds were reportedly issued in two separate tranches: The first is a $1.5bn 10-year bond at a rate of 4% and the second is a $1bn 30-year note at 5.5%. Subscription to the bonds reached $12.5bn, or five times of the required fund.

Mubadala announces new Chairman and CEO of Masdar

Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala) has appointed H.E Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber as chairman of the board of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, and Dr. Ahmad Belhoul will be CEO of the company. Dr. Al Jaber will be succeeding H.E Ahmad Al Sayegh, Masdar’s former chairman. He will continue to serve as UAE minister of state within the federal cabinet of the UAE. In addition, he serves as the UAE Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change. Dr. Belhoul joins Masdar from Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, where worked as CEO of Strategy. Since its 2006 launch, Masdar has delivered a portfolio of projects and initiatives, including the launch of large-scale renewable energy projects and the development of Masdar City.

Dubai Chamber launches sustainability task groups for 2014

The year 2013 was a successful year for the Sustainability Network Task Groups operating under the aegis of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Centre for Responsible Business (CRB). Therefore, the chamber has recently launched the task groups for 2014. The Sustainability Network, which was initiated in December 2010, has 55 member companies till date. Membership of the Sustainability Network has jumped by 60% as 20 new companies came on board last year while 10 Task Groups were launched that examined key areas of opportunity, like Sustainable Energy, Supply Chains, Diversity, Social Enterprise, Health and Safety and Sustainability for SMEs. The companies within the Sustainability Network are playing a leading role in driving forward CSR and sustainability amongst businesses in UAE.

ICD partners with Al-Ajial to invest in Moroccan private sector

Saudi-based Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Morocco’s Al-Ajial Funds (Al-Ajial). Through this partnership, ICD and Al-Ajial Funds will establish a framework of cooperation in order to co-invest in potential projects within Morocco’s private sectors. The ICD is particularly interested in Al-Ajial Funds’ experience in supporting Morocco’s private sector, according to ICD chief executive Khaled Al-Aboodi.

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