Gulf Times

SE Asia #sukuk benefit as distressed investors keep looking for yield

Inflows in debt vehicles issued by Muslim Southeast Asian nations have increased in the recent past. Malaysia and Indonesia are greatly benefiting from their current monetary easing policies, relaxed tax policies and government infrastructure spending programs. The Pan-Borneo Highway project adds to other sukuk issuances, among them a $1.3bn-offer by Sarawak Hidro, the state-owned developer of Malaysia’s biggest hydropower project, also on Borneo Island. Other infrastructure sukuk in the queue are a $440mn-issuance for the bridge connecting Peninsular Malaysia with Penang island and a $892mn-issuance for a highway network. Indonesia’s government is also enlarging the scope of sukuk-backed investment in roads and railways. However, the state budget is only capable of contributing 30%, which means that a large number of future issuances can be expected, with its uptake spurred by generous tax incentives.

QR1bn #sukuk supports QIIB’s 'interim and strategic' plans

QIIB announced the issuance of a QR1bn sukuk within the first tranche of the bank’s capital boost through a local issue. The new sukuk issuance supports the bank's equity and meets Basel 3 requirements and enhances its plans for expansion. With the new issue the bank’s capital adequacy will increase to about 20%, well above the Qatar Central Bank requirements set at 12.5%. Moody’s has affirmed the Bank’s rating this year at A2, Fitch Ratings at A+ and Capital Intelligence at A- with a positive outlook.

#Luxembourg set to take over London’s Islamic finance hub position in Europe

The small European nation of Luxembourg is expected to threaten and take over London’s role as European hub for Islamic finance in a post-Brexit world. The big hit the UK is suffering politically and economically by the June 23 "Leave" vote will result in years of uncertainty and the risk of thousands of job cuts or relocations to mainland Europe. Over the past years Islamic finance has gained a strong foothold in London which served as a gateway for Arab investors to Europe. Now that the UK voted to quit the European Union, an exodus of investors is expected as they fear tighter regulations and higher taxes looming.
As an alternative, Luxembourg has shown readiness for innovation and will continue to improve its competitiveness. Luxembourg was the first European country that joined the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corp (IILM). In September 2014, Luxembourg also issued the first sovereign sukuk in the eurozone and is soon expected to host its first fully-fledged Islamic bank on its territory.

What a #Brexit could mean for the UK’s aspiring #Islamic #finance #market

As the referendum on whether to leave or remain in the European Union looms in the UK, voices are getting louder, particularly in the country’s financial industry that it would not necessarily be a good idea to vote for a Brexit. Since the weight of the UK in the global financial market is substantial – the financial sector of the City of London has a 20% share in the global market for trading foreign securities and a sizeable part of it depends on the UK’s access to the internal EU market – such a strong position would be certainly threatened.
This could have serious impact on the growing role of Islamic finance in Europe which is entrenched in the UK and from there makes its way into the continent. Since the 1990s, when the first mortgages in the UK were set up in line with Shariah law, the country has aggregated the most advanced experience in Shariah-compliant finance in the Western world. Corporate sukuk followed a decade later, and in 2014, the UK became the first country in the EU to issue some sovereign sukuk and listed them on the London stock exchange. From then on, Islamic finance steadily entered the rest of Europe.

#QIB forges ‘strategic partnership’ with Jaidah Equipment

Qatar Islamic Bank has announced that it will be the preferred financing partner of Jaidah Equipment under the terms of the strategic partnership QIB forged with the Qatar-based equipment dealer.
QIB general manager of Wholesale Banking, Tarek Fawzi, and Jaidah Equipment managing director, Ayman Ahmed, led the official signing before senior executives from both organisations at QIB’s corporate headquarters in Doha.
As part of the agreement, customers of Jaidah Equipment who would like to purchase new equipment are entitled to use the bank’s Fleet and Heavy Equipment Financing scheme, which was introduced last year as part of QIB’s Aamaly programme, a collection of products and services designed specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Through its Aamaly programme, QIB aims to foster the growth of SMEs and help diversify the country’s economy in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.
“We are pleased to be partnering with Jaidah Equipment. This new relationship enhances the value of QIB’s Aamaly programme and makes it easier for SMEs to expand their businesses in the growing Qatar market,” Fawzi said.

Manila plans to raise debt via #sukuk, yuan borrowings

The #Philippines’ incoming finance minister is looking at raising debt via sukuk bonds and yuan borrowings in a bid to diversify its debt profile. The Philippines last went to the debt market in February selling $2bn of 25-year bonds. Minister Carlos Dominguez is also planning to impose new taxes on more unhealthy products to compensate for a planned cut in income taxes. He also said he would put casinos under an anti-money laundering legislation to avoid a repeat of the Bangladesh Bank heist. Dominguez is returning to the Cabinet after 27 years and will assume office on June 30.

Islamic finance discovering the charm of offshore jurisdictions

Offshore jurisdictions have become increasingly popular with Islamic finance institutions in the recent past. Such jurisdictions allow the hassle-free incorporation of trusts, special purpose vehicles or other financial intermediary bodies necessary to be established between parties within an Islamic finance structure. Also, offshore financial centres are usually offering services at lower costs in a favourable tax environment. The most developed in this respect are the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg and Labuan in Malaysia, as Kuala Lumpur-based International Islamic Finance Center pointed out.

Islamic finance becomes popular for affordable #housing schemes

Home financing resembling Islamic finance structures is becoming popular to solve the housing affordability crisis in Western countries. Housing cooperatives began using profit-and-risk-sharing schemes modelled after ijara or musharaka to help home buyers purchase properties. In the UK the idea based on the Islamic contract of ijara came up in 2015. The rent-to-own scheme was proposed by the Liberal Democrats party and involves an Islamic bank or another intermediary, who purchases the property for a customer. In Canada various cooperative frameworks are providing home financing loans to members of their cooperatives in a Shariah-compliant manner. In the US the Ijara Community Development provides Shariah-compliant home financing for both US clients and customers in Canada.

QFB developing new open architecture platform for #privatebanking clients

#Qatar First Bank (QFB) is developing a pioneering private banking platform, which offers clients the opportunity to select from a wide range of financial solutions. According to CEO Ziad Makkawi the bank is transforming from being an investment focused to an investor-focused entity. QFB’s Head of Private Banking and Wealth Management, Nizar Ahmadi, said the open architecture platform will be available exclusively to private banking clients. QFB's Shariah-compliant products include financing, private banking services, innovative investment solutions, as well as family office services covering trusts, foundations, advisory, real estate planning, and statement consolidation.

New global Islamic #venturecapitalfund enters business

A venture capital fund based on Islamic finance principles will be initiated by the end of May. It is the result of a joint initiative of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and Malaysia’s state-owned investment firm Malaysia Venture Capital Management. According to Treasury secretary Irwan Serigar Abdullah the initial fund size would be $100mn and could be bulked up later. In the first stages, the venture capital fund would be utilised to finance startup companies in Malaysia and the entire Southeast Asia region and could later be extended to finance entrepreneurial initiatives in other Islamic countries.

Why banks like HSBC won’t transmit money to #charities in conflict zones

More than half of the 170 local and regional banks surveyed by the World Bank reported losing their relationships with global partner banks. Banks also have closed accounts for hundreds of money-transfer firms that provide lifelines to migrants and their families in the $582bn remittance business. As long as governments show little sign of flexibility, banks don’t dare take a chance running afoul of money-laundering and terrorist-financing restrictions.

#Sukuk volume drops as appetite for spend wanes

International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) found that the year 2015 saw a major drop in issuances when only $60.6bn of sukuk were issued, a 43%-slump compared to 2014. A large part of the decline in sukuk issuance was due to the policy decision of Malaysia’s central bank to discontinue the issuance of short-term investment sukuk. Lower sovereign spending in leading Islamic finance jurisdictions continues to take its toll, issuances are not likely to recover in 2016.

#Islamicfinance’s entry into #gold market could send price soaring

The Islamic finance industry has set sight on the gold market as initiatives are underway to establish a new standard to make the metal tradable under Shariah finance rules. World Gold Council (WGC) together with Amanie Advisors and the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions in Bahrain are now developing the standard to increase transparency and harmonisation of the use of gold investments. The Islamic finance entry could shake the gold market as Islamic financial institutions hold around $2tn in assets and are expected to double that asset base up to 2020.

Islamic finance innovators called to Kuala Lumpur for fintech challenge

The upcoming Global Islamic Finance Forum 2016 to be held in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur from May 10 to 12 will see a special competition for financial technology, the Asean Fintech Challenge. Organised by credit card company Visa and the Association of Islamic Banking Institutions Malaysia, the challenge aims at bringing the most innovative fintech startups to compete. Here the teams have the opportunity to present their ideas to over 500 Islamic finance delegates from all over the world.

Indonesia eyeing Qatar expertise for expanding Islamic banking sector

Indonesia seeks to expand Islamic banking and has sought Qatar’s help in developing Shariah-compliant banking in the South East Asian country. Indonesian ambassador Muhammad Basri Sidehabi recently visited QIIB headquarters where they held talks with the bank CEO Abdulbasit Ahmed al-Shaibei. Ambassador Sidehabi said the delegation’s visit to QIIB was aimed at benefiting from Qatar’s Islamic banking experience and further expanding the areas of cooperation. He spoke about the great efforts being made by the authorities in Indonesia, where there is a huge demand for Shariah-based banking services.

Iran looking to shift its funding needs to capital markets

Iran’s government plans to shift part of its borrowing from local corporate investors to the capital markets, a move that could stimulate trading in debt securities and help the economy recover from years of economic sanctions. The government is laying plans to offer a range of debt instruments in the markets, where they could be bought by institutional and individual investors, rather than placing debt directly with banks and Corps.
At present, Iran’s banking sector provides around 95% of all financing, with only a tiny portion sourced from the debt capital markets. Several efforts are under way, like the approval to use ijara sukuk..

Qatar tops Middle East in penetration of Islamic insurance

The Islamic insurance penetration in Qatar far exceeded that in the Middle East, where lack of differentiation and associated pricing pressure, along with poor distribution networks, are key challenges for the takaful companies, though the region made the early moves to establish Islamic insurance, according to A M Best. The overall penetration figures for the Middle East mask underlying differences between various countries in the region with Bahrain and Qatar both enjoying good takaful penetration rates of 22% and 13%, respectively compared to the Middle Eastern average of 8% in 2014, A M Best said in a report ‘Takaful Life and Nonlife Issue Review’.

Japan enters Shariah-compliant corporate financing in Mideast

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), through its newly established Dubai branch, has become the first Japanese lender to provide Shariah-compliant corporate financing through an overseas branch after respective regulations have been loosened by Japan’s Financial Services Agency last year. The bank said it is issuing a $200mn loan to a unit of Saudi Arabian national mining company Ma’aden. BTMU launched an overseas branch in October last year in the Dubai International Financial Center with an Islamic window after receiving permission from the Dubai Financial Services Authority. The bank is currently preparing a number of Islamic products with an initial focus on commercial loans and trade finance services.

Islamic finance gaining momentum on fertile ground in Central Asia

The latest region seen as having big potential for Islamic finance is the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), comprising eight countries plus Russia that until 1991 were part of the Soviet Union. Being home for a large Muslim population, especially in Central Asian CIS member states, the area is emerging as a new frontier region for Islamic finance as banking penetration is relatively low and demand for financing is strongly growing. In all these countries, growth is strongly dependent on production and export of commodities, not just oil and gas, but also coal, iron and precious metals, among others. This brings with it the need for huge infrastructure investments for the production cycles of those commodities, and also for processing and transportation.

Global Islamic bond sales expand as Malaysia follows Indonesia

Islamic bond sales are off to a racing start this year as Malaysia plans to tap the market following Indonesia’s $2.5bn issue, which was more than three times oversubscribed. Global sukuk offerings of $11.3bn are already 30% more than the first quarter of last year and are approaching the $12bn for the same period of 2014. Malaysia selected JPMorgan Chase & Co, CIMB Group Bhd, Malayan Banking Bhd and HSBC Holdings to arrange investor meetings for as early as the end of this week. Emerging-market dollar bonds are rallying this quarter after commodities rebounded and the Federal Reserve signalled a more gradual pace for US interest-rate increases.

Syndicate content