Global Islamic Finance

Call to dispel Islamic banking misconceptions in Oman

There are some misconceptions about Islamic banking in Oman, which need to be dispelled through raising awareness about this sector, Dr Jamil El Jaroudi, chief executive officer of Bank Nizwa said. El Jaroudi noted that they do not want to simply replicate what is out there in the conventional banking and continuously try to innovate and build an industry based on Sharia objectives, and not necessarily just to be Sharia-compliant. However, during the initial phase, they do have to provide alternatives to the current conventional products to suit the demand of customers, he added. Another misconception is that Islamic banking is similar to a social philanthropic entity. Nevertheless, Islamic banks are commercial and profit oriented businesses.

Islamic Finance -- a Potent Tool to Address Most Pressing of Development Challenges

Not only is Islamic finance gaining broader recognition in financial markets, it's also becoming a viable "alternative" source of funding to address pressing developmental challenges, eliminate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity in developing and emerging economies. Islamic finance can make significant contributions to economic development, given its direct link to physical assets and the real economy. Moreover, by expanding the range and reach of financial products, Islamic finance could help improve financial access and foster the inclusion of those who are now deprived of financial services. Islamic finance also helps strengthen financial stability. However, the industry will also need to address several challenges.

Taliworks JV gets SC go-ahead for RM210m Sukuk

A Taliworks Corporation Bhd joint venture has received the Securities Commission’s approval for the proposed issuance of the RM210mil Sukuk Murabahah. Taliworks said the Sukuk would be issued by Grand Sepadu (NK) Sdn Bhd, a joint venture in which it has a 75%. The proceeds from the issuance of the Sukuk Murabahah will be utilised to facilitate the roll-over of the short term syndicated bridging loan facility of up to RM200mil undertaken by GSNK into the Sukuk Murabahah and for working capital purposes. Taliworks said Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd is the principal adviser and lead arranger for the Sukuk Murabahah.

Malaysia: Growing role for Japan in Islamic finance

There is a growing role for Japan in the development of the Islamic finance market, according to RAM Ratings. RAM said tax reforms were introduced in 2011 to level the playing field for the issuance of J-Sukuk and conventional bonds for tax purposes, and amendments had also been made to Japanese Securitisation Law to facilitate the issuance of J-Sukuk. While there has yet to be any issuance of J-Sukuk in the Japanese market, BTMU Malaysia Bhd – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ – has taken the first important step by debuting a US$500mil Sukuk programme in Malaysia in September.

Turkey’s Aktif Bank gets approval for $91m in sukuk

Aktif Bank has received regulatory approval to issue 200 million lira ($91 million) in Islamic bonds. The lender will sell the sukuk to qualified investors through its asset leasing company, Aktif Bank Sukuk Varlk Kiralama. It gave no time frame for the deal. Last year, Aktif Bank helped raise a small one-year 100 million lira sukuk for construction-to-energy firm Agaoglu Group using a mudaraba structure. Besides, Turkish conglomerate Dogus Group received regulatory approval last month to raise $370 million via sukuk in what would be the first dollar-denominated corporate transaction of the kind in the country. The Capital Markets Board has outlined new regulations to allow a wider range of sukuk structures.

CIMB Islamic to raise RM5 billion with Basel III, Tier 2 sukuk programme

CIMB Islamic, the shariah-compliant unit of Malaysia's second largest bank, is preparing an Islamic bond programme to raise up to RM5 billion ($1.58 billion). The Basel III compliant sukuk programme, assigned a preliminary rating of AA+ by ratings agency MARC, will go towards replacing an existing RM2 billion Tier-2 sukuk and to fund working capital. The securities commission is still finalising approval and CIMB is not expected to issue sukuk from the programme any time soon. The company did not specify the range of maturities or sizes for sukuk under the programme. CIMB is currently in talks with two smaller banks to create a mega-Islamic bank.

Islamic bank pushes for regulation review

The laws regulating Islamic financing in Kenya need fine tuning to fully support sharia compliant banking, First Community Bank general manager Omar Sheikh has said. At the moment there is no double taxation for the murabaha contracts but the law ought to be clear on this matter for future operations. Sheikh also cited the loss sharing principle as a matter that creates confusion in terms of declaration and their accounting statements whereby while sharia law requires that profit and loss be shared among the bank and clients, the local industry's guidelines require that they record it as loss provision in their books. Sheikh urged non Muslims to also seek services at the bank adding that wrong perception that the lender is restricted to Muslim clients has been the biggest challenge to its growth.

Scholar Fees Targeted by Regulators: Islamic Finance

Bankers and officials from Bahrain to Indonesia are standardizing documents and bond structures to limit impediments caused by varying interpretations of Shariah law. Due to the lack of standardization, there is indeed too much reliance on scholars. A well-respected expert can charge between $500 and $1,000 an hour in the Middle East. The scholars' reputations can heavily influence the success of a product, driving demand for a select group of experts and leading to inflated earnings. A central Shariah board at the central bank level could easily take care of it or an international standards setter.

Luxembourg Plans Investor Meetings to Market Debut Sukuk

Luxembourg will start meeting investors in the next two months to drum up support for a debut sale of shariah compliant bonds. The country, which has an AAA credit rating at Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, is planning to become the second non-Muslim nation to issue a sovereign Islamic bond after the U.K. raised 200 million pounds ($335 million) in June. Ministry of Finance officials will meet investors in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia from the end of September to promote the proposed sale. The ministry is planning to use three government buildings as assets in the deal.

Islamic finance looks to shake off sukuk pricing hitch

Islamic finance has been one of the fastest-growing sectors in global finance but the industry has yet to shake off perceptions about high costs and complexity that are holding back some issuers. Britain, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and South Africa all are keen to make maiden sukuk issues, to diversify their funding sources and tap liquidity sources. However, these and other plans have been delayed by factors including double-taxation on some sukuk structures and a difficulty in identifying assets to underpin the transactions. Increased clarity on sukuk structures has helped: the design and approval process has become generic. Moreover, some jurisdictions have enacted legislation in the past few years to remove double or even triple tax duties on sukuk.

Pakistan plans $1bn sukuk to boost reserves

Pakistan plans to sell more than $1bn of Islamic bonds after its first overseas debt sale in seven years boosted reserves. The dollar-denominated notes will be marketed at the end of the third or in the fourth quarter of 2014, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said. Investor interest will determine the size of the offering which will be “much more” than $1bn and managers are yet to be appointed, he added. Dar said he expects investors from the Middle East, South Asia, Europe and the US. A successful conclusion to review talks with the IMF – which began in Dubai this week and will probably end on May 10 – will hopefully result in good pricing on the debt, he added. The sale is part of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plan to attract investment and overhaul the economy to meet conditions on a $6.6bn IMF loan.

Malaysia: Khazanah eyes RM3.3bil sukuk

Khazanah Nasional Bhd is reportedly considering selling as much as US$1bil (RM3.26bil) of dollar-denominated exchangeable sukuk. The state-owned entity is currently choosing banks for the potential offer. The notes will be exchangeable into shares of companies controlled by Khazanah. A decision hasn’t yet been made on which equities will be included in this offering. Khazanah also owns 39% of telecommunications company Axiata Group Bhd, the biggest shareholder. It has about RM103.5bil of assets, including a stake in CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. Khazanah’s sukuk is part of a gradual move to make the Malaysian stock market more liquid. Demand for this exchangeable sukuk is expected to be well-received.

Morocco's Attijariwafa Bank looks to boost Islamic finance

Attijariwafa Bank, one of the biggest banks in North Africa, will boost its Islamic subsidiary as soon as the Islamic finance bill passes parliament. Morocco's parliament has started to discuss a bill regulating Islamic banks and sukuk issues after months of delays, after the Islamist-led government adopted it last month. Parliament's approval will be the last step before fully-fledged Islamic banks can be established in Morocco. However, a revolution in the Moroccan banking sector is not expected since the market is very competitive, and Moroccans are too sensitive to product prices. Islamic finance banks are called participative banks under the Moroccan legislation.

Malaysia: Jeddah-based IDB plans to develop Islamic centre of excellence at Tun Razak exchange

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is considering developing an Islamic Centre of Excellence at the Tun Razak Exchange in the greater Kuala Lumpur in three to five years. The centre of excellence will reportedly provide services in Islamic finance and banking-related transactions. The project will be developed in collaboration with the Malaysian government.

Sustainable investing: Opportunity awaits Islamic finance industry

Active collaboration between Islamic finance and the forms of finance generally referred to as sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) has not occurred yet. Islamic finance and SRI share some obvious similarities in their objectives, methods and claims. Both seem to trigger similar expectations among their proponents of being ethically different from conventional finance. They also face similar criticism of not being able to live to up to these expectations. Although SRI is older and larger than Islamic finance, which is estimated between $1 to $2 trillion in terms of global assets, both are relatively small and growing segments.

JPMorgan Touts Nakheels Sukuk Saying Default Doubtful: Islamic Finance

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is advising clients to buy Nakheel PJSC’s Islamic bonds as new projects boost the Dubai developer’s earnings, while government backing makes a default improbable. State-run Nakheel’s 4.27 billion dirhams ($1.2 billion) of sukuk yielded 9.88 percent at 12:30 p.m. in Dubai, down seven basis points this month, after surging 179 basis points in June. That’s more than twice the average gain in yields on corporate Islamic debt tracked by HSBC/Nasdaq Dubai indexes. JPMorgan listed Nakheel in a July 4 research note as its “top overweight recommendation” among Dubai real-estate debt. Nakheel will manage to pay or refinance as much as half of the $3 billion of debt due in 2016 as it generates at least $1 billion from new projects and land sales.

Tunisia plans 1bn dinar sukuk

Tunisia's government is working alongside the Islamic Development Bank to pave the way for a 1bn dinar ($700m) sukuk sale scheduled for later this year. According to finance minister Elyes Fakhfakh, it would set a benchmark for companies seeking to tap the Islamic debt markets. He said the government would target 80 per cent external investors and 20 per cent domestic. However, the lost of the investment-grade rating, slow economic growth and bank liquidity concerns may put investors off the government’s sukuk. The country is also seeking a $1.7bn loan from the International Monetary Fund to help stabilise the economy and plans to issue US government-backed bonds.

Sukuk: A ‘new’ option of aircraft financing

Several airlines have indicated that they are exploring the possibilities of financing new fleet acquisitions and expansion through the issuance of sukuk or other suitable Shariah-compliant financing instruments. Bankers in the UAE and Malaysia stress that sukuk are ideal for the airline and aviation industry because of the match between the long-term nature of the assets with a regular income stream from passenger traffic. However, aviation finance industry experts emphasize that sukuk is not necessarily a better option, it is simply a different option to find a source of financing.

IFC Makes First Islamic Finance Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa

IFC has announced the investment of $5 million equity in Gulf African Bank, one of Kenya’s two Islamic Banks. The bank will use IFC’s financing to increase finance for retail and corporate customers, develop programs for women entrepreneurs and extend more services to small and medium businesses. Jamal Al Hazeem, Chairman of Gulf African Bank, welcomed IFC’s decision to take up a 15% shareholding stake in Gulf African Bank. In addition to the equity investment, a further $3 million trade line will be made available to Gulf African Bank under IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program.

Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Islamic finance tax regime ‘friendliest in Mena

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has a tax system that enables sukuk transactions to be carried out without excessive tax costs, according to a study conducted by the experts Mohamed Amin, Salah Gueydi and Hafiz Choudhury. The study reviewed the tax treatment of four common Islamic finance structures ‘murabaha’, ‘sukuk’, ‘salaam’ and ‘istisna’ in the eight Mena countries. Mr. Amin said the study shows clearly that the additional transactions required by Islamic finance are at risk of being subject to taxes, and can make Islamic finance transactions prohibitively expensive. Only Turkey and the QFC have modified their tax laws to facilitate Islamic finance.

Syndicate content