United Arab Emirates

Noor Bank Q1 profit jumps 174%

Dubai-based Noor Bank has reported record net profit of Dh85 million for first quarter of 2014, up from Dh31 million for first quarter 2013, an increase of 174 per cent. Return on equity improved to 14 per cent, total assets grew 9 per cent to Dh25.2 billion. Total customer financing increased by 14 per cent to Dh16.3 billion. Customer deposits grew by 11 per cent, reaching Dh20.7 billion. Hussain Al Qemzi, CEO, Noor Bank and Group CEO, Noor Investment Group said that the bank's business strategy continues to focus on satisfying the needs of its customers across wholesale, capital markets, corporate, commercial and personal banking. He believes the franchise is well capitalized and positioned for balanced and sustainable growth.

Ajman Bank Signs a Strategic Alliance with Al Ramz Capital

Ajman Bank has signed a strategic alliance with Al Ramz Capital, aiming to provide Ajman Bank customers with the services to trade in the UAE's stock market. The alliance has been officially signed by Mr. Mohamed Abdulrahman Amiri, Ajman Bank 's CEO and Mr. Mohammad Murtada Al Dandashi, Partner and Managing Director, Al Ramz Capital. Ajman Bank has launched a share finance product to invest in the UAE's financial markets based on Murabah. This product will double the investors purchasing power in the financial market by offering finance amount equivalent to the market value of the client's stock portfolio. Customers will be also able to trade with their own shares in addition to the finance provided by the bank.

Dubai Sells First Bonds in 15 Months With $750 Million Sukuk (3)

Dubai tapped capital markets for the first time in more than a year with the sale of $750 million of 15-year Islamic bonds as the emirate seeks to pay debt and finance its budget amid a property-market recovery. The Dubai government’s securities will reportedly price to yield 5 percent. The price Dubai paid for the sukuk indicates a significant improvement in the credit quality. The sale comes after Abu Dhabi agreed last month to roll over $20 billion of debt for five years, helping push Dubai’s credit risk to 165 basis points on April 4. Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB), Emirates NBD Capital Ltd., HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC and Standard Chartered Plc managed the sale.

Deloitte and IRTI workshop: Restructuring Sukuk the Islamic way

The Deloitte Islamic Finance Knowledge Center (IFKC) in the Middle East and the Islamic Research & Training Institute (IRTI) held on March 27, 2014 the "Restructuring Sukuk- the Islamic Way" workshop in Dubai, the first of a series of executive workshops targeting industry practitioners, investors and issuers. The event tackled the Sukuk market trends and the key Sharia' and regulatory considerations for restructuring activities. The participants discussed actual restructuring case studies with analysis of risks associated with transactions and lessons learned. The event also provided practitioners the opportunity to hear different perspectives in discussions facilitated by leaders from Deloitte, DFSA , IDB Group , Islamic International Rating Agency, FWU Global Takaful, and Clifford Chance .

Limitless said to seek delay on installment of US$1.2 billion debt

Limitless LLC, the Dubai-based developer, has reportedly asked creditors to defer the first installment on its $1.2 billion restructured debt until the end of 2015. The company has offered banks 200 million dirhams ($54 million) toward the $400 million amortization due in December. Limitless, which was put under the management of state-controlled developer Nakheel PJSC in 2010, has requested postponement of payment for a year. The company is revising business plans and will approach lenders about the debt maturing in 2014, its chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said. Options include sale of land in Jebel Ali, he added. Seemingly, the company reached an arrangement that would give lenders a profit rate equivalent to interest of 175 basis points over the London interbank offered rate and may extend payment by five years.

Abu Dhabi Bank Taps Expats With Barclays Buyout

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC (ADIB) is seeking to bring a boom in Shariah-compliant lending to the expatriate population in the UAE. ADIB agreed to buy the conventional retail assets of Barclays Plc (BARC) in the United Arab Emirates for 650 million dirhams ($177 million). The deal is the second of its kind for ADIB, which bought a stake in Egypt’s National Bank of Development in 2007. ADIB has been a corporate-focused bank so having a larger retail footprint will be positive for balancing it’s loan book. Barclays’s U.A.E. customers will notice a difference during the transition, even while they won’t experience any disruption.

Noor Bank reports Dh255 million net profits in 2013

Noor Bank on Monday reported a net profit of Dh255 million for 2013, up from Dh76 million for the year ended 2012. Last year, Noor Bank’s total assets rose 29 per cent to Dh23.2 billion, compared with Dh18 billion, at the beginning of the year. While the total customer financing increased by 32 per cent to Dh14.3 billion, banks’ customer deposits increased by 33 per cent to Dh18.6 billion in 2013. The bank is strongly capitalised with a capital adequacy ratio of 17.6 per cent and has a coverage ratio of almost 100 per cent. With a strong wholesale and retail deposit base, the bank is abundantly liquid. In 2013, Noor Bank launched its trade and SME brand, Noor Trade, and more than doubled financing to SMEs.

Dubai aims to import Islamic finance courses from Malaysia

Dubai's Tecom Investments has sent a delegation from Dubai’s Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City to meet representatives from Islamic finance academic institutions in Malaysia in an effort to bring some them to the emirate. The delegation examined different Islamic economics courses related to Sharia-compliant funds, sukuk, murabaha and the regulatory frameworks related to Islamic finance. Dubai aims to bring two renowned Islamic finance universities to the city – the International Islamic University Malaysia and The Global University of Islamic Finance. It is also keen to bring in governmental professional development centres such as the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia. The delegation also visited the Labuan International Business and Finance Centre, which has a research focus on Islamic wealth management.

UAE’s Souq.com raises $75m – Investment Round Up

Dubai-based Souq.com, an Arab e-commerce site, has secured a $75 million investment from Naspers, a South African media organization. Besides, Silent Herdsman, which produces wearables for cows, has received £3M ($4.9 million) in funding. Moreover, Waltham, MA-based Actifio, which provides copy data virtualization to customers, has gained $100 million in an oversubscribed investment round. Software defined storage company Amplidata has realized an $11 million investment led by Intel Capital and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC has pumped about $63 million into U.K.-based energy tech company Intelligent Energy Holdings. Moreover, there have been several Mergers & Acquisitions, including Palo Alto Networks buying cybersecurity startup Cyvera.

Islamic finance talent gap to reach 8,000 plus

Companies in the UAE will require a lot more than 8,000 new employees trained in Islamic finance next year as Dubai positions itself as the capital of the $8 trillion Islamic economy. The bulk of the additional manpower will be required by banks offering Sharia-compliant products and services. Recruiters in the UAE are already seeing a 50 per cent growth in demand for candidates with Islamic finance experience. Many companies are currently looking to fill positions across all levels, from relationship management, project management to risk management and marketing. The talent shortage can be addressed by utilising the existing pool of professionals working in banks and financial services firms, and providing them with Islamic finance training.

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.

Abu Dhabi's TDIC receives AED2bn cash injection

Abu Dhabi-based Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) received cash injection of over Dh2 billion from the government in 2013, Fitch Ratings said. The state has consistently provided TDIC with substantial direct financial support, including the provision of free land, recognised by TDIC as equity contributions. In 2013, the government provided cash contribution of more than Dh2bn, according to the ratings agency. Fitch also affirmed TDIC rating with stable outlook. The ratings are aligned with the Abu Dhabi sovereign (AA/Stable/F1+), reflecting strong ties with the sovereign. Fitch said TDIC is unaffected by the emirate's recently approved public debt policy.

Dubai may set up Shariah-compliant exim bank

Dubai’s government will consider establishing the world’s first fully Shariah-compliant export-import bank to promote the emirate’s foreign trade. The bank would provide financing to companies involved in trade while helping them to reduce their risks and gain market access, the Department of Economic Development said in a statement without giving details of the proposed institution’s structure or financing. Noor Investment Group will advise on the project, the department added, but did not give a time frame. Last month the Export-Import Bank of Malaysia said it had issued the world’s first US dollar-denominated Islamic bond issue from an export-import bank; the $300mn, five-year sukuk attracted $3.2bn of investor orders.

Dubai Islamic Bank eyes Kenya, Indonesia for expansion

Dubai Islamic Bank plans to expand its operations into Asian and African countries as it emerges from a period of consolidation, the bank's chief executive Adnan Chilwan said. The lender, which currently makes some 95 percent of its revenue within the United Arab Emirates, says it is entering a growth phase domestically and internationally. It is exploring opportunities in Indonesia, Kenya and surrounding countries in Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the GCC. Expansion could be realized via acquisition, a Joint Venture, a finance company or a greenfield operation as long as DIB keeps management control and operates under its brand, Chilwan added. However, Chilwan said the bank also expected strong growth in its domestic market, so the balance between local and international business would not change radically.

Dubai Islamic Bank Eyes Expansion Into African Markets

Dubai Islamic Bank has revealed plans to expand its operations to Africa as well as Asia, as it seeks growth for its domestic and international business. According to DIB’s chief executive Adnan Chilwan, the bank is exploring opportunities in Indonesia, Kenya and surrounding countries in Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the GCC, with the hope of doing this via acquisition, Joint Venture, establishment of a finance company, or through a greenfield operation startup. Given a five-year scenario, the bank expects a decent franchise spread across these countries with stable and solid yields across all sectors. International business is estimated getting at best 10 to 15 percent of the overall group numbers in about six to eight years.

GFH Capital appoints Jinesh Patel to lead bank's next phase of growth

GFH Capital has announced the appointment of Jinesh Patel as its Senior Executive Officer to lead the Dubai based investment bank. In his new role, Mr. Patel has been tasked with further building and growing the business. Mr. Patel is a senior business professional with almost two decades of international experience in the financial services arena spanning Europe, the Middle East and Asia and brings to his role extensive experience in originating, structuring and executing private equity, debt and capital market transactions. Prior to joining GFH Capital, he was the Chief Financial Officer of Ammalay Commodities - Dubai. He holds an MBA from the University of Brighton and BA (Hons) in Business Economics and Finance.

S&P: Dubai Islamic Insurance & Reinsurance Co. (Aman) Ratings Lowered To 'BB+'

Dubai Islamic Insurance & Reinsurance Co. (Aman) has announced a loss of AED 51.6 million at year-end 2013 that has impaired its capital adequacy. Given that this loss represents about half of Aman's shareholders' equity, S&P consider that Aman's capital and earnings position and overall financial profile have weakened significantly. The rating agency is therefore lowering its ratings on Aman to 'BB+' from 'BBB-' and placing them on CreditWatch negative. S&P also believes that Aman's retained earnings over the next two years are unlikely to be sufficient to rebuild its capital adequacy to levels consistent with higher ratings.

Shariah-focused independent wealth organisation opens in Dubai

The Shariah-focused independent wealth organisation Mahal Thqa has opened in Dubai. The firm is a joint venture between Middle Eastern financial consultants Mondial and US-based venture capital organisation Shariah Capital. It will be lead by chief executive Sadi Hassouneh and will focus on the Middle East’s Arabic-speaking population offering Islamic investment solutions and fund alternatives. Thqa’s investment approach will be based on protecting and growing its client’s capital over the medium-to-long-term and seeks to avoid the “boom-and-bust” results associated with specific asset class risk.

Dubai World prepays Dh1bn to creditors

Dubai World has prepaid $284.5 million (Dh1 billion) to creditors under its $25 billion debt restructuring plan. The conglomerate reportedly obtained money for the prepayment from asset sales. Under the terms of the restructuring deal, cash raised from asset sales above a threshold of $300 million is to be distributed as early repayments to creditors, which include big Western and Gulf banks. Last December, a unit of Dubai World sold its 50 percent stake in Miami Beach's landmark Fontainebleau hotel. The price was not disclosed, but Dubai World originally had paid $375 million for the stake in 2008. Moreover, Nakheel said last month it was repaying Dh2.35 billion ($640 million) of bank debt 18 months ahead of its maturity in September 2015.

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