The Express Tribune

Muslim demography: Promoting high-net-worth individuals in Pakistan

Every fourth person on the planet is Muslim. However, the vast majority of them happen to be among the poorest in the world. However, there is a growing middle class in the Muslim world, including Pakistan, of which the upper sub-segment called the ‘mass affluent’ may potentially be relevant to wealth creation and subsequently to the business of wealth management. Muslim high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) hold an estimated $3.35 trillion, which is less than 30% of the total Islamic wealth. The remaining 70% is held by Muslim businesses, Islamic financial institutions, the mass affluent, and by the governments in the OIC block.

Restructuring: SECP chief backs Islamic financing

Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Zafar Hijazi said on Wednesday the regulator is looking to enhance Shariah compliance in the capital markets by restructuring and reorganising the Islamic capital market. Speaking at the fourth Islamic Finance Expo and Conference as chief guest, Hijazi discussed in detail the roadmap for the promotion of Islamic finance in Pakistan. He added that the SECP is centralising the Shariah-related capital market activities besides improving the regulatory framework for Takaful, Modarabas, Islamic mutual funds, Islamic pension funds and Islamic real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Creating awareness: The ownership and control of Islamic banks in Pakistan

There are five Islamic banks operating in Pakistan. The significant shares of paid-up capital actually comes from the high net worth families and institutions in the Middle East, especially the six countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). There are six countries - Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, UK and Singapore - from where individuals and institutions have invested in the five fully-fledged Islamic banks in Pakistan. Almost all of these banks are advised by the graduates of Darul Uloom Karachi, Jamiatul Uloom Islamia Binnori Town Karachi and Jamiatul Rasheed Karachi – well-known religious seminaries of Deobandi school of thought.

Dawood Capital: SECP realises mistake after two years, restores licence

Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Executive Director Nasim Shahid cancelled the licence of the asset management company Dawood Capital Management on March 22, 2013. He concluded in his order that Dawood Capital Management CEO Tara Uzra Dawood used privileged information and forged documents to avoid an imminent loss of Rs18.2 million. He also imposed a penalty of Rs20 million on her. The appellate bench of the SECP set aside the earlier order on January 22, saying the SECP executive director “did not have the power to pass the impugned order”. The bench also overturned parts of the 17-page original order that held Dawood guilty of having defrauded investors in the run-up to the write-down in the value of the mutual funds.

Network expansion: Mobilink to raise $68.6m via sukuk

Pakistan Mobile Communications (Mobilink) plans to raise Rs6.9 billion ($68.6 million) via Islamic bonds this quarter. The sukuk will help fund the network expansion of Mobilink, a subsidiary of Global Telecom Holding, and majority-owned by Russia’s VimpelCom. The credit guarantee will be extended by Mauritius-based GuarantCo, a specialised financial guarantor, indirectly owned by the development agencies of Britain, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands. Credit guarantees for sukuk are rare because of the profit-sharing nature of Islamic finance, but they could prove to be an important development, attracting a wider range of corporate and sovereign issuers to the Islamic bond market.

Third phase of financial innovation fund to focus on Islamic financing

Pakistan's federal government on Friday launched the third round of Financial Innovation Challenge Fund designed to promote Islamic financing. The fund was launched with the assistance of the United Kingdom under the UKAid-sponsored Pakistan Financial Inclusion Programme being executed by the State Bank of Pakistan. The earlier two rounds focused on promoting innovative agricultural and rural financing in the country. Meanwhile, a steering committee constituted to promote Islamic banking has prepared an interim report and its recommendations will help in setting a roadmap and deciding a future course of action for providing an enabling environment for the growth of Islamic finance.

Shariah-compliant: IGI Life Insurance to enter Takaful business

The board of directors of IGI Life Insurance has approved the commencement of family Takaful business in Pakistan. Total gross premiums of IGI Life amounted to over Rs1.8 billion at the end of the first nine months of 2014. In April last year, IGI Insurance acquired a 69.7% stake in American Life Insurance Company Pakistan (Alico) for Rs732 million. The establishment of the window family Takaful operation is accompanied with the allocation of Rs50 million for this purpose. In addition, Jubilee Life, EFU Life and Adamjee Life have also expressed their intention to establish Islamic window operations recently.

Shariah-compliant: Country’s insurance market set for takaful boost

Pakistan’s insurance sector is set for a boost in competition after the industry regulator allowed conventional firms to offer takaful earlier this year. The regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), has now granted two takaful licenses and has up to 10 applications currently being finalised. 20 to 25 new takaful window operators are expected in the market within one year. The regulator sees greater opportunity in life insurance although commercial lines of business could also find appeal in rural markets where the demand for products like crop, agricultural, livestock insurance is increasing. Such an increase in activity could face challenges, in particular a lack of experienced staff as well as the need for Islamic re-insurance products to help manage excess risk.

Shariah compliant: EFU insurance moves onto Takaful business

Pakistan’s second largest life insurance company informed members of the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) on Friday that it intends to enter the window Takaful business. The board of directors of EFU Life Assurance has approved changes in its memorandum of association under Takaful Rules 2012 to launch Takaful. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) replaced Takaful Rules 2005 with Takaful 2012 two years ago, which allowed conventional insurance companies to set up Islamic windows to conduct shariah-compliant business. EFU Life Assurance is not the only company that has shown interest in setting up Islamic window operations. Jubilee Life, the largest player in the life segment in terms of gross premiums, is also eyeing the Shariah-compliant business after the implementation of Takaful Rules 2012.

Withdrawal: Islamic insurers agree to out-of-court settlement

After waging a legal battle with the regulator as well as conventional insurers for almost two years, Islamic insurance companies have finally agreed to an out-of-court settlement of the longstanding dispute over controversial Takaful Rules 2012. General and family Takaful companies will withdraw their constitutional petition against the SECP, 23 insurance companies and the federation of Pakistan within this week, thus allowing conventional insurers to run Shariah-compliant insurance business through parallel window operations. The SECP is said to have agreed to the Takaful players’ suggestion that conventional insurance companies should be required to maintain separate capital accounts for the two lines of business.

No deal: ‘SBP has blocked sale of Meezan Bank’

Kuwait’s Noor Financial Investment Company said the proposed sale of its stake in Karachi-based Meezan Bank had been blocked by Pakistan’s central bank, which felt the prospective buyer had not met its standards for suitability. Little is known about the prospective buyer, identified only as Vision Financial Holdings Limited in a separate filing by Meezan Bank. Noor Financial said the prospective buyer would continue to seek approval from the regulator, with the offer set to expire on April 15, 2014. However, ownership of Meezan Bank may be a sensitive issue for regulators as they seek to develop Islamic banking in the country. Last December, Noor Financial said it planned to sell its 49.1% stake in Meezan for $190 million and expected to book a $24 million profit.

Islamic insurance rules: Takaful firms to withdraw petition against SECP

General and family Takaful companies are soon going to withdraw their constitutional petition against the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), 23 conventional insurance companies and the federation of Pakistan after a prolonged fight with the regulator to restrict competition in the Islamic insurance industry. Takaful operators are said to have struck a deal with their conventional insurance counterparts, which will allow the latter to run Shariah-compliant insurance business through parallel window operations. Some of the biggest players, including State Life, EFU Life, Jubilee Life and Adamjee Life are reported to be eager to launch their Islamic window operations. In fact, some of these companies have vowed publicly to launch window operations within three months of the lifting of the SHC’s restraining order.

10 months on, SHC restriction on implementation of Takaful rules remains

It’s been almost 10 months since the Sindh High Court restrained the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) from implementing Takaful Rules 2012 that allowed conventional insurance companies to sell Takaful products through separate windows. The court has yet to give its final verdict on a petition of five Takaful operators in which they contended that the provision allowing conventional insurance companies to start selling Takaful products is against Shariah law. If the court clears Takaful Rules 2012, up to 20 conventional insurance companies (life and non-life) are likely to introduce Takaful windows. The paid-up capital requirement for a conventional life insurance company under existing rules is Rs500 million and Rs300 million for a conventional non-life insurance company. The paid-up capital requirements for general and family Takaful companies are not different from their conventional insurance counterparts.

SBP issues guidelines for Islamic bonds

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued a circular to all Islamic banking institutions about the Islamic Export Refinance Scheme (IERS) and eligibility of Ijara Sukuk, Islamic bonds to be included in the Musharaka pool. Every Islamic bank is obligated to create a Musharaka pool consisting of financing blue chip companies on Islamic modes. The Musharaka pool is supposed to have a minimum of ten companies with diversified lines of businesses to avoid concentration in sectors. The circular listed the conditions that will make the Government of Pakistan Ijara Sukuk eligible to be included in the pool, created under the IERS. The Islamic banking institutions are also required to maintain records of Sukuk issues and the amount it allocated to its respective Musharaka pool.

Banking practices: Banks meet to improve Islamic financing SOPs

Senior Shariah scholars and advisers of Islamic banks and conventional banks with Islamic windows have agreed to standardise Forex and interbank Musharakah agreements between Islamic banks and Islamic banking windows. This move will facilitate the availability of Shariah-compliant venues for deployment of excess liquidity of Islamic banks. This agreement was reached during a meeting called by Meezan Bank Ltd, in which Shariah scholars discussed the challenges in Islamic Treasury Operations.The forum was attended by several prominent Shariah scholars along with Product Development and Treasury professionals of all major Islamic banks and Islamic banking windows of conventional banks.

Why Islamic banking is growing rapidly in Pakistan

Islamic banking is the fastest growing segment of Pakistan’s financial services sector, with an average anual growth rate of 59.6%. However, 67% of Islamic banking customers also use conventional banks, largely due to a wider range of services offered by conventional banks. Ultimately, however, the Islamic banks seem to have caught on the need to compete on their service breadth and quality. Islamic bank CEOs have all emphasised the fact that their banks now offer the full complement of services offered at conventional banks. A study revealed that deposits in Islamic banks appear to be growing mostly due to customers switching from conventional to Islamic banks. Very few customers start out from scratch at an Islamic bank.

Is Islamic banking as exploitative as conventional banking?

In Pakistan, a number of businesses have emerged, which are collecting investments informally from an increasing number of people, and offering them very lucrative and frequent returns. Although it may sound incredible, it is not impossible to offer such returns. However, there is a definite need to look into the matter with respect to money laundering, even if the investments are genuine, and the returns offered by those groups actually come from the investments they made. One thing that these informal groups claim is perhaps true: putting your money in banks does not generate appropriate returns to investors. If a proper corporate governance and regulatory framework is devised for these informal Shariah-compliant investment and business groups, one may observe a new way of doing business in compliance with Shariah.

Insider trading: Dawood Capital Management licence revoked, CEO fined

The Securities and Exchanges Commission of Pakistan (SECP) revoked the licence of Dawood Capital Management and imposed a Rs20 million fine on its CEO Tara Uzra Dawood for insider trading. The SECP issued its order on Friday, after having conducted a nine-month investigation into the matter. According to the SECP’s findings, Dawood Capital Management had invested in corporate bonds issued by several companies that had defaulted on their obligations to bondholders. Dawood Capital Management said they are reviewing the order and reserve the right to appeal it.

Microfinance: PPAF, Telenor, Tameer join hands

The Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Telenor Pakistan and Tameer Microfinance Bank (TMB) for extending financial services to poor and un-banked communities. Under the MoU, a pilot project is to be launched to extend financial services to select communities by establishing Easypaisa shops, which will provide services that include bill payments, money transfers, donations, international home transfers, withdrawals and deposits through mobile accounts. One Easypaisa shop will be set up in each PPAF community to cater to their banking needs. Once the pilot project is completed, it will be replicated nationwide, a press release stated.

Sukuk issue: Karachi airport offered as security

The government of Pakistan raised Rs182 billion through a Sukuk against the security of Jinnah International Airport Karachi for budget financing. The Sukuk operations were launched through the Pakistan Domestic Sukuk Company Limited. However, analysts question the use of Islamic bonds for budget financing and linking the return with treasury bills, saying it is forbidden and against Shariah laws. In the last fiscal year, the government borrowed a total Rs412 billion through Sukuk, enabling it to meet 23.2% of financing needs.

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