Business Recorder

Corruption ranking

Last week Pakistan rejoiced at its ranking in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2014 improved by a notch with a score of 29 out of 100 in a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) as per the report issued by Transparency International (TI). Denmark comes on top of the list with a score of 92 and North Korea and Somalia share last place scoring 8. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. It's a composite index-a combination of polls- drawing on corruption - related data collected by a variety of selected institutions.

SECP committed for developing Islamic financial sector

In order to develop a robust takaful sector, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has allowed M/s SPI Insurance Company Limited, formerly known as Saudi Pak Insurance Company Limited, to start window takaful operations. The initiative would help meet the risk mitigation needs of the masses and develop the Islamic financial sector, according to the SECP. Previously, two conventional insurance companies were allowed to transact takaful business through window operations. Currently, the SECP is processing one more application to start window takaful operations. The takaful sector in Pakistan has yet to go a long way in fulfilling the risk mitigation needs of the masses.

Iran hangs man convicted of $2.6 billion bank scam

Iranian businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, convicted of masterminding a $2.6 billion banking scam, was hanged on Saturday in Tehran''s Evin prison. He was sentenced to death after being convicted of corruption on earth through bribery and money laundering. Revelations about the scandal swept Iran in 2011 when prosecutors uncovered a private umbrella group, led by Amir Khosravi and his brothers. Over the space of two years, Amir Mansour Aria Development Co bought 40 companies with forged letters of credit obtained from several major banks whose managers they had bribed. In addition to Amir Khosravi, three others have reportedly been sentenced to death.

SBP evolves 5-year strategy to promote Islamic banking

Deputy Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Saeed Ahmed has said that the SBP has evolved a comprehensive five-year strategy to promote Islamic mode of banking in the country. The SBP would strive to get 20 percent market share during this period which is 10 percent at the moment, he added. Moreover, the SBP is in regular contact with the Institution of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi for the establishment of Centre of Excellence on Islamic Banking. He said as soon as the first centre will be established, three more such centres would also be established in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi respectively. Besides, a lot of attention is focused on solutions, which are not far from the Islamic financing where system allows fairness of return, sharing of risk and reducing income inequalities.

Zaver Petroleum Corp: Al Baraka Bank arranges Rs three billion Islamic transaction

Al Baraka Bank Pakistan Ltd is the lead advisor and arranger of Rs 3 billion first Musharaka based Islamic transaction to Zaver Petroleum Corporation Limited. The signing ceremony took place in Islamabad. Present at the occasion were Saddruddin Hashwani, Chairman Hashoo Group, CEO Al Baraka Pakistan, Shafqaat Ahmed and representatives of the Zaver Group, Al Baraka and member banks of the consortium; United Bank, Askari Bank, Bank of Punjab, Dubai Islamic Bank and Burj Bank. This is Al Baraka's first step in providing value added services to major players in the oil and gas sector and more such transactions are expected in the future.

Burj Bank acquisition: SBP allows MCB to commence due diligence

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has allowed MCB Bank to commence due diligence of Burj Bank Limited for proposed acquisition of its 55 percent share. The management of MCB Bank disclosed to its shareholders that the central bank has given an approval to the bank for conducting a detailed due diligence of the bank to invest in new and existing shares along with additional investment by Islamic Corporation for Development of Private Sector. MCB Bank is conducting due diligence of Burj Bank Limited from March 18, 2014. Burj Bank is operating with 75 branches countrywide, but it is facing some financial complications and failed to meet SBP's minimum capital requirement of Rs 10 billion by end-2013.

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.

Summit Bank introduces Islamic banking

Pakistani lender Summit Bank Limited has inaugurated its first Islamic banking branch in Karachi and announced that it will transform all operations into Shariah mode in next three years. Hussain Lawai, President and CEO Summit Bank, said the bank's investors have injected Rs 1 billion fresh equity for Shariah-based operations. The management has decided to make efforts for conversion of branches from conventional to Islamic mode, instead of opening new branches. As per the roadmap in the first phase Summit Bank Islamic branches will be set up in four major cities - Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad - during this year, he added. The bank set a target of 30 percent growth for Shariah business and as per its estimates it will be over 20 percent during this year.

Islamic banking represents 12 percent of industry: Deputy Governor SBP

Islamic banking industry in Pakistan has been growing at a fast pace ever since its re-launch in 2002 and now represents over 12 percent of overall banking industry with 19 Islamic banking institutions offering Islamic banking products and services through a network of over 1300 branches across the country. The State Bank pf Pakistan (SBP) has announced a five-year strategic plan for the Islamic Banking Industry (IBI) aimed to provide a roadmap to the industry for the next level of development. Moreover, SBP has decided to strictly monitor the performance of the Islamic Banking industry in order to ensure that they are operating according to Sharia. Besides, SBP is working on its major role to ensure the participation of every citizen in the financial system, through its Financial Inclusion Policy.

SBP wants inclusion of more people in Islamic Banking system

State Bank of Pakistan and other banks engaged in Islamic Banking have sought media support in mobilizing and inclusion of more people from all sections of the society in the source banking system, especially the agriculture, micro-finance and housing sectors.. In order to create awareness and better understanding among the media people, a two-day workshop on 'Islamic Banking' has been organised for them. The Director of SBP's Islamic Banking Department, Saleemullah, said the print and electronic media is the best tool for opinion making and mobilizing the people towards Islamic banking, Besides establishing riba-free economy, however, the corruption in the society must end. Otherwise, the poverty can not be eliminated.

Pak-Qatar Family Takaful

Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Limited is a progressive and a technology-driven Shari'ah Compliant company providing Takaful solutions in Pakistan. Beginning operations in 2007, the company has an independent Shari'ah Advisory Board chaired by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani which certifies all products and operations for Shari'ah compliance. The company is rated A (having Stable Outlook) by JCR-VIS Credit Rating Co Ltd. The paid-up capital of Pak-Qatar Family is in excess of Rs 700 million. Pak-Qatar General Takaful Limited is chaired by Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah al-Thani and sponsored by several financial institutions form the State of Qatar. The company is present in all major cities of Pakistan, and is on track to further expanding its branch network.

Cursory look at Islamic banking

The Pakistani Islamic Banking Industry (IBI) is in a nascent stage compared to the rest of the world, but has shown constant growth in the past years. Islamic Banks (IB) hold a lion-share of 64 percent in the IBIs total assets. In terms of share, IBs contribute only 30 percent to the IBIs total advances, the rest being provided by the Islamic Banking Divisions (IBDs), i.e. conventional banks offering Islamic banking. IBDs are more efficient in recovering their loans with their infection ratio clocking in at just 1 percent of their advances. Conversely, full-fledged Islamic banks have an infection ratio of 8 percent. With the growing competition in the Islamic banking industry, the Islamic banks must rethink their asset deployment strategy, which is currently more inclined towards Investments. SME and agriculture sectors which are untapped thus far could be the potential avenues to hit.

Maybank's Islamic asset management unit launched

Malaysia's Malayan Banking (Maybank) has launched an Islamic asset management unit to cater to growing investor appetite for sharia-compliant investment products. Maybank asset management will leverage the Maybank group's network of business lines, which range from consumer banking to Islamic insurance, as well as its geographical presence across Asia. It aims to launch Asian-themed investment funds using a bottom-up investment strategy, with products to be marketed primarily in Malaysia and Indonesia. Maybank acquired Indonesian asset management firm PT GMT Aset Management, and it will also explore opportunities in the Middle East through Maybank Investment Bank's stake in Saudi Arabia's Anfaal Capital, according to Nor Azamin Salleh, chief executive of Maybank asset management.

BankIslami stays in green—only just

Pakistani BankIslami more than offset the negative effect of discount rate cuts by an growth of 24 percent and 72 percent in its investments and financing, respectively. However, the costly fixed deposits drove up the bank’s mark-up expenses squeezing its spread ratio to 40 percent in 1H CY13 from 43 percent in the corresponding period of last year. Moreover, During 1H CY13, the non-performing loans (NPLs) swelled by 31 percent year on year. Resultantly, provisioning expenses mushroomed by more than four times in 1H CY13. Besides, the bank has been working aggressively to enhance its branch network which piled up bank’s non-mark-up expenses. Whether or not, BIPL enjoys the discount rate hikes will largely depend on how it works on is to improve its CASA (low-cost deposits) and curb its surging NPLs.

'Takaful is expanding its client base'

Takaful is set to push up its annual growth from existing around 25 percent to stiffen competition with the conventional industry, as public trust is pouring into the Islamic insurance rapidly. There is, however, need to create mass awareness about the industry and its authenticity to increase the general public confidence, according to Head of Marketing Pak-Qatar Takaful Group, Syed Adnan Hasan. He said Takaful is expanding its client base as corporate sector, which is attaining its bigger share. However, there are some challenges the Shariah compliant insurance is facing to increase public response and dispel religious misunderstanding of insurance industry. Religious understanding about the Takaful among the public could help pave way for the industry's penetration. Takaful and conventional insurance practically achieves the same purpose but by starkly different means and that is the fundamental difference between the two. People still associate the feelings they have for insurance with Takaful and that is rather unfortunate.

Burj Bank Limited

Burj Bank Limited was formerly known as Dawood Islamic Bank Limited (DIBL). The bank officially commenced operations in April 2007 and was renamed Burj Bank Ltd. in July 2011. Burj Bank has a diversified range of Shariah compliant funded and non-funded products and services aimed at facilitating both individual and corporate customers. Besides, the bank also offers investment and corporate advisory services. Burj Bank was quoted the best Islamic bank by world financial magazine in 2013. After incurring losses for three consecutive years since CY09, CY12 was the year when the bank made an after tax profit of Rs 84.6 million. In 2012, Burj Bank become a dominant player in fleet financing business and is regarded as a top player in this segment. Industry insiders strongly urge the development of an active Islamic money market via short-term sovereign instruments and secondary market via Islamic repo agreements.

Three Islamic banks in Bahrain plan merger

The three Bahraini Islamic investment Banks Capivest, Elaf Bank and Capital Management House have agreed to merge in order to better compete in a fragmented market. The combination will create a bank with assets of $400 million which should be able to win larger projects while benefiting from a more diverse balance sheet. Kuwait Finance House advised the lenders on the merger. The deal must still be approved by Bahrain's central bank and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Islamic banks leading house financing

According to World Bank, on an average, annual housing need in Pakistan is 1.1 million units which require an annual funding of around Rs3.3 trillion per year. While conventional banks/DFIs are stepping away from the housing finance, the share of Islamic banks and HBFC is surging. The gross house loans of Islamic banks grew year-on-year by 15 percent as of December 2012. Among Islamic banks, Meezan Bank, Burj Bank and BankIslami remained the major growth propellers. Islamic housing finance instruments are attractive to the consumers because of the co-ownership nature of the contract instead of borrowing and lending. Besides, with the purchase of share consistently, the rental amount is gradually reduced every month. Facilitating Islamic banks to extend loans coupled with the suggested development of secondary mortgage market is expected to buttress the housing finance in Pakistan.

Burj Bank celebrates Earth Day

Burj Bank has launched an employee driven CSR initiative called "Giving beyond the Workplace Campaign". As part of the program, Burj Bank Employees along with the Senior Management team visited the TCF (The Citizen's Foundation) Qayyumabad campus as an Earth Day CSR Activity. Burj Bank members adopted one class each for the day where they spent their time in storytelling, book reading and educating the students about the importance of Earth Day. Ahmed Khizer Khan, President & CEO of Burj Bank also presented a donation cheque from Burj Bank's Charity Fund to Asaad Ayub Ahmad, President & CEO of TCF.

UBL Islamic Principal Preservation Fund launched

UBL Funds introduced the UBL Islamic Principal Preservation Fund on April 01, 2013. For the first time in Pakistan, investments can be made in a Shariah Compliant investment scheme with 100 percent exposure into the stock market while benefiting from the principal preservation advantage. According to UBL Funds' CEO Mir Muhammad Ali, the investors benefit with the fund's pioneer methodology of Constant Proportion Portfolio Insurance (CPPI) in Shariah compliant investments. The CPPI method is intended to control risk and protect capital via daily valuation of risk budget available and daily portfolio rebalancing thus aiming to preserve the principal investment.

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