United Kingdom

Cobalt targets Sharia-compliant demand

The Islamic countries of South-East Asia represent a rich potential area of growth for insurers, especially those able to offer Sharia-compliant products, Richard Bishop, chief executive officer of Cobalt Underwriting, told SIRC Today. Bishop said that counties such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan offered a plentiful source of potential business for insurers, especially those familiar with and able to offer Sharia-compliant insurance.
Cobalt Insurance Holdings and its two specialist operations, Cobalt Underwriting Services and Cobalt Advisory Services, were formed in 2012 with the objective of establishing London as a leading global centre for Sharia-compliant insurance capacity.
“When we started we principally focused our efforts on the Middle East as a market,” Bishop said. “We do business in the UK, or inward investment into the UK via Islamic investors, but we wanted to make our product available in the Islamic markets, and the closest Islamic market to the UK is the Middle East. It’s worked quite well for us as a starter market.”

Islamic securities deliver economic and social returns

“Ethical finance” is a term used to describe finance that is put to good social and environmental use. Interest in it has risen since the 2008 global financial crisis, with Islamic finance and socially responsible investment funds becoming its two fastest areas of growth. The World Bank Treasury has brought the two together by helping the International Finance Facility for Immunization issue two Sukuks in less than a year.
IFFIm is an international organization that finances child immunization and strengthens health systems related to it in some of the poorest countries of the world through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Backed by nine sovereign governments—the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Norway, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and South Africa—the organization raises money in the international capital markets.

10th Durham Islamic Finance Summer School - 24-28th August 2015

Why an Islamic Finance training programme?

The Islamic banking and finance (IBF) sector has experienced substantial and unprecedented growth in recent years: growing at a rate of 10-15% per year. Today, more than 500 IBF institutions are operating worldwide, which are claimed to manage assets worth no less than $1.2 trillion, while the assets held in IBF institutions were only less than $10 billion in 1985. In Malaysia the IBF institutions are planned to capture the 25% of the market share, in terms of assets owned, by 2012, while it is expected that Islamic finance will be the mainstream finance in the Gulf region in the next decade.

Such immense growth has brought Islamic finance to the attention of the international banking and finance community, prompting the major banks to set up Islamic financial windows to take advantage of demand for Shari'ah compliant finance.

Request for Proposal - Tunesia US-Dollar dominated sukuk

The Republic of Tunisia has sent banks request for proposals for a potential US dollar denominated sukuk transaction. The sovereign, rated Ba3/B/BB-, hopes to complete the debut Islamic bond by the end of the year and thereby becoming the fifth sovereign to issue a debut sukuk this year, after the UK, Sharjah, Hong Kong, South Africa and Luxembourg.

Alternative Business Structure in East-London the first to specialise in Islamic finance

A Brit, a Pol and a Brazilian have come together to form a unique Alternative Business Structure and specialise in Islamic finance. Kawa, Guimaraes & Associates Solicitors, based in London’s Canary Wharf, offers services in immigration, family and employment, together with a limited amount of personal injury and medical negligence. Senior partner Mehedi Rahim, said the firm specialised in finding commercial solutions compliant with Islamic principles.

Gulf Arab Sukuk dominance fades as U.K. leads next wave

As Islamic bond issuance heads for a record year, nations making up the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council are losing share to new borrowers such as the U.K., Hong Kong and South Africa. Global sales of Shariah-compliant debt reached $36.7 billion. GCC market share fell down from more than 50 percent a year earlier as Bloomberg figures show. With non-Muslim countries being lured by the growing Islamic investor base.

Battle for Shar’ia Money

Such is the hype of activity about Shari’a-compliant product at the moment that even The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has now moved a step closer towards the issuance of a debut sukuk. The government presented a draft bill to parliament that could get deal going, proposing the issuance of a €200m-equivalent sovereign sukuk denominated. Euros or US-Dollars, both are welcome. Additionally, the Luxembourg government has also identified three real estate assets to underpin the transaction.

New Lending Manager at Saffron Building Society

Richard Clare has been appointed as new Lending Manager at Saffron Building Society. He will take responsibility for assessment and preparation of mortgage cases as the underwriting capability.
Besides their rainge of Everyday and Special Situations Mortgages, Saffron Building Society will also consider more complex cases which are in need for bespoke lending solutions.
Richard Clare has more than 20 years of experience in financial services gained with organizations including UBS, Coutts, Ahli United Bank, United Trust Bank, Clayton Euro Risk, Pure Bridging Ltd, Rooftop Mortgages, SPML and Halifax plc. His considerable experience is as a senior lending manager.

10,000 Muslim Millionaires in Britain have different needs

Shari’a-compliant launches from UK based managers are growing steadily. The UK is at the forefront of Muslim investment. Even crowdfunding is becoming increasingly acceptable in the Arab world to raise capital for start-ups. But investments of any nature have to be Shari’a-compliant. Hereby Muslim communities from Bangladesh or Indonesia may differ from Arabs or Iranians. Some national governments, like Pakistan, insist on full Shari’a financing whereas others like Dubai or Bahrain have a less stringent approach to this. A lot of Shari’a money is completely untapped and is waiting on bank accounts. Most conventional products are not able to access this money due to non-Shari’a compliance.

LSE Public Lecture: Risk Sharing and Cooperative Finance

Organised in conjunction with the Harvard Islamic Finance Project, Farmida Bi talks on Islamic finance in the Western world. Farmida Bi is partner and European head of Islamic Finance, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. Dr Paul Mills is senior economist at International Monetary Finance, London.

Recorded on 12 February 2014 in New Theatre, East Building.

First UK Islamic ISA gives consumers ethical tax-free way to save

The Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) has announced the launch of the UK’s first Islamic ISA. The account offers UK consumers an alternative and tax-free way to save. ISAs allow consumers to hold cash, shares and unit trusts free of tax on dividends, interest and capital gains. The UK Islamic finance sector is expected to see rapid growth this year and be worth $2 trillion (£1.2 trillion) by the end of 2014. The popularity of Islamic investment is growing outside of the Muslim community. The IBB estimates that over the last year, around 87% of applications for fixed term deposit accounts were from non-Muslim customers.

London - LSE Public Lecture on 12th February 2014: Risk Sharing and Cooperative Finance

Department of Law public lecture
Date: Wednesday 12 February 2014
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: New Theatre, East Building
Speaker: Farmida Bi

Organised in conjunction with the Harvard Islamic Finance Project, Farmida Bi talks on Islamic finance in the Western world.

Farmida Bi is partner and European head of Islamic Finance, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.

Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #LSErisk

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Masraf Al Rayan acquires Islamic Bank of Britain

The Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), the UK’s only wholly Sharia compliant retail bank, has been acquired by Al Rayan (UK), the UK subsidiary of Masraf Al Rayan (MAR). The acquisition follows a cash offer made on 28 November 2013 for which MAR received over 95 per cent of valid shareholder acceptances, together with approval of the Prudential Regulation Authority for MAR to take control of IBB. MAR considers the acquisition an opportunity to expand its footprint and introduce its range of products to a fertile market with potential for continued growth. It will also enable Masraf Al Rayan to offer its existing Gulf-based customers additional services as they expand their activities into the UK.

Bahrain's GFH agrees part sale of Leeds United stake

Bahrain-based investment firm Gulf Finance House (GFH) has agreed a partial sale of its stake in English football club Leeds United. GFH said the sale was agreed with British investors, whose details the firm did not specify. The investment firm did not provide details on the stake value or the size of the stake sold. GFH bought Leeds United in December 2012 through its Dubai-based subsidiary, GFH Capital, but its financial statements showed that the firm disposed off more than half of its holding less than six months later.

Call for Paper - Foundation of Islamic Finance Conference, 2-3 April 2014, Durham University

The Sixth Foundation of Islamic Finance (FIFC) Conference is to be held at the Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom on April 2-3, 2014. Papers relating to Islamic economics and finance including papers covering the Shariah aspects of Islamic economics and finance are welcome in this 2014 meeting with the conference theme "Islamic Economics and Finance: The New Frontier”. Numerous experts, industry practitioners and scholars will participate. The submission deadline for papers is Friday 15, February, 2014. Paper writer(s) will be notified of the International Review Panel’s decision by 23 February, 2014. Once the papers are accepted, registration has to be done by 28 February, 2014. The registration fee is MR 1450 (about US$450). For further information and contact details please see the website: http://nceis.unimelb.edu.au/events/all/foundation_of_islamic_finance_con...

Boost for GFH Capital

GFH Capital, a fully-owned subsidiary of Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House, yesterday announced the acquisition of a prime central London residential property. Located in Kensington, the property is a Grade II listed building, overlooking the Queens Gate Gardens. GFH Capital expects above average capital appreciation to continue over the medium term. Demand for this type of property is reportedly coming from investors all over the world. However, the firm also sees value and upside potential in other real estate markets such as the US and expects to make additional investments in these markets as well.

GFH Capital acquires Central London residential property

GFH Capital, a fully owned subsidiary of Bahrain based Gulf Finance House, has completed the acquisition of a prime central London residential property. Located in Kensington, the property is a Grade II listed building, overlooking the Queens Gate Gardens. This investment is in line with GFH Capital's strategy to identify attractive opportunities in developed markets like the UK, where it has already made considerable investments. Demand for this type of property is coming from investors all over the world. GFH Capital expects this dynamic to continue due to the favorable conditions of London. However, the firm also sees value and upside potential in other real estate markets such as the US and expects to make additional investments in these markets as well.

Islamic Bank of Britain completes first Scottish business finance deal

The Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) has completed its first finance deal in Scotland for Al-Meezan, a non-profit, non-political organisation based in Glasgow. The deal for commercial property finance, valued at £400,000, has enabled Al-Meezan to complete renovation and extension work at its premises. It also includes refinancing of the credit for the initial building works, making Al Meezan's finances fully Sharia compliant. IBB 's commercial property finance is tailored to the needs of the customer, and is in line with Scottish law. In this case, the product uses the Islamic finance principles of Musharaka with Ijara. IBB expects continued interest in its offering, particularly in Scotland where there is a growing interest in Islamic and ethical finance.

Sigma Capital Forms $1.14B JV with Gatehouse Bank to Develop 6,600 Rental Homes in Britain

Property developer Sigma Capital Group has formed a 700 million pound ($1.14 billion) joint venture with Shariah-compliant Gatehouse Bank for the development of up to 6,600 new rental homes in Britain. The joint venture will initially invest 200 million pounds (approximately $326 million) in the construction of 2,000 residences in Liverpool and Salford in northwest England. Under the terms of the agreement, Gatehouse will deliver the equity element of the venture. Britain aims to address its imbalance of housing supply and demand by providing loans for the purchase of homes and by financing a 1 billion pound (about $1.6 billion) Build-to-Rent fund to encourage investment into rental housing.

Islamic Gatehouse Bank to aid UK housing crisis

London-based Gatehouse Bank plans to build 6,600 rental homes and gain from the shortage in decent housing stock. The bank hopes to gain from the big shift in the country’s housing market away from buying to renting. Gatehouse has formed a joint venture with the property developer Sigma Capital to leap into the sector. Initially they will build 2,000 new homes in Liverpool and Salford at a cost of about £200m before going on, if the venture proves a success, to build a further 4,600 properties with a further £500m investment. If successful, it would overtake Britain’s biggest stock market-quoted landlord, Grainger Trust, which has currently got 4,000 homes. Gatehouse already has a £1bn property portfolio across the UK and US.

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