Dow Jones Islamic Markets commentary: Lessons from the turmoil

Dow Jones Islamic Market Index (DJIM) suffered the largest losses in February. Political crisis and civil unrest in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, escalating even to a civil war like in Libya, weighed on the markets.
The turmoil led the DJIM Kuwait Index to drop 8.64% . DJ Dubai Financial Market (DFM) Titans 10 Index lost 4.83%.These declines stand in stark contrast to the rise in energy prices, which usually lift Middle Eastern markets.

Qatar Charity aims to collect QR3.5mn for Libya crisis-hit

Qatar Charity (QC) has launched a drive to alleviate the sufferings of tens of thousands of people in Libya in the wake of the current unrest in that country.
The target sum of the campaign has been pegged at QR3.5mn. Aid materials, especially medicine and food, would be bought from Egypt.

Albaraka cuts size of March sukuk

Albaraka Banking Group reduced the size of a March sukuk programme to $250 million (Dh918 million)-$300 million from the planned $500 million.
The bank also plans to issue a $100 million sukuk in Egypt at the end of the year.

Mideast Investments, Corporates To Feel Pinch From Egypt Crisis

Investors may hesitate before committing new money to the Middle East, including oil-rich Gulf Arab states, as a result of the political turmoil spreading across the region but the largest effect is likely to be felt by regional companies with exposure to the Egyptian market.

Is Egypt going takaful?

Islamic insurance has been steadily growing as a "Halal" alternative for commercial insurance that some believe to be illegal and risky.
Facebook is one of the innovative ways of Egypt to marketing. Recent as it is in the Egyptian liberal market, the Islamic laws-compliant version of insurance seems to be slowly but surely growing.

Albaraka Sees Indonesia Purchase in First Quarter

Albaraka Banking Group BSC, the biggest publicly traded Islamic lender in Bahrain, expects to complete an acquisition in Indonesia in the first quarter of 2011 as part of an expansion.
The bank has identified targets for the planned transaction in the Asian country. Albaraka has also identified an acquisition target in Malaysia.
Albaraka this year acquired Pakistan’s Emirates Global Islamic Bank Ltd., which boosted its network in the country to about 90 branches. It also began operations in Syria this year.
The Manama-based bank has received approval to set up a representative office in Libya to benefit from the country’s strong trade ties with other markets where the bank operates, such as Egypt, Turkey, Algeria and Jordan.
The bank expects total loans to increase 20 percent in 2010.

Australia Planning Tax Changes to Promote Sales of Sukuk: Islamic Finance

Australia plans to change laws to ensure Islamic finance products are taxed fairly as the government seeks to attract investors from the Middle East and Asia, paving the way for sukuk sales.
The national taxation board will hold talks next month in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne on how to best ensure that Islamic finance transactions are treated the same as equivalent non-Islamic deals. The board noted this month that mortgages that comply with religious principles may lead to stamp duty being paid twice, as the financier buys the property and then sells it to his client. Under a conventional mortgage there is only one sale that attracts the duty.
Australia is looking to join countries from Egypt to South Korea in seeking to ease barriers to Shariah- compliant products and tap the industry’s $1 trillion in assets, which the Kuala Lumpur-based Islamic Financial Services Board predicts will reach $1.6 trillion by 2012.

Confidence returns to Middle East investment

Middle East governments and companies are raising cash again from debt and equity markets, while solid oil prices and improving economic fundamentals are helping the region recover and restructure.
Yet even as the region regains its footing after the global financial crisis, political tensions and concerns over security remain a nagging worry for investors in the region.
Outside the Gulf, banks in Egypt and Lebanon have emerged from the economic crisis relatively unscathed, with both states expecting strong economic growth.
In Egypt, the government expects growth of at least 6 percent in the fiscal year to the end of June 2011, up from 5.3 percent the previous year.
Growing political tension over an international investigation into the 2005 killing of former premier Rafik al-Hariri has prevented the unity government from implementing reforms or getting the 2010 budget through parliament.
If tensions escalate into sectarian violence many Lebanese could withdraw their savings and the Lebanese pound could come under pressure. But the country has bounced back quickly from previous conflicts.

Sukuk Entice Canada Issuing $2 Billion to Spread Funding: Islamic Finance

The growing demand for securities that meet Islamic religious principles may lead Canadian governments and companies to start issuing Shariah bonds.
HSBC Bank Canada may offer $500 million and three government-related borrowers from one Canadian province may issue $1.5 billion of sukuk, Omar Kalair, chief executive officer of Toronto-based UM Financial, said in an Oct. 14 interview. A “handful” of Canadian companies may sell C$1 billion ($980 million) of Islamic debt by 2013, said Daud Vicary Abdullah, global Islamic finance leader at Deloitte Corporate Advisory Services Sdn. in Kuala Lumpur.
Egypt, Nigeria, the Philippines and Thailand have announced plans to sell their first sukuk in the past three months, partly to tap Persian Gulf oil wealth.

Egypt to Issue Sukuk Rules in 2011 to Compete With Gulf: Islamic Finance

Egypt, home to the Arab world’s largest Muslim population, will issue its first Islamic debt guidelines in 2011 to catch up with the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia and help spur sales.
Al Baraka Bank Egypt ESC, a Cairo unit of Bahrain-based Islamic lender Albaraka Banking Group, may sell dollar- denominated Islamic bonds, known as sukuk, in the second half of 2011.
Al Baraka, Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt and National Bank for Development are the nation’s only Shariah- compliant financial institutions.

AL BARAKA BANK EGYPT ESC plans Sukuk in 2011

AL BARAKA BANK EGYPT ESC, a unit of Bahrain-based Albaraka Banking Group, may sell dollar-denominated Islamic bonds in the second half of 2011, the bank’s chairman said Sept. 29. The bank has not decided on the size of the bond, he said.

Africa Re Group Launches Africa Retakaful

African Reinsurance Corporation has launched a new subsidiary called African Takaful Reinsurance Company (Africa Retakaful). The new company is a subsidiary of African Re to give the much needed back up to takaful insurance companies around the globe. Africa Retakaful is wholly owned by Africa Re and licensed in Egypt under the Investment and Free Zone Law. It was decided that the clients will decide to place the business with either Africa Retakaful or Africa Re exclusively. In all cases Africa Re, which enjoys the A- rating from S&P and AM Best respectively will provide all the required support for Africa Retakaful. Meanwhile, Mr. Omar Gouda has been appointed Managing Director of African Reyakaful. Omar, a seasoned and respected reinsurance expert who is well known at home ( Egypt ) and in the Middle East was the Regional Director of North East Africa and Middle East of Africa Re before his appointment.

Solidarity names Bseisu group chief executive

The Solidarity Group Holding board has appointed of Ashraf Bseisu as group chief executive officer. Mr Bseisu is a long-standing Solidarity executive and a prominent member of the region's insurance industry. Solidarity Group Holding, one of the largest takaful companies in the world, includes the Solidarity Family Takaful Company and Solidarity General Takaful Company in Bahrain as well as subsidiaries and associates in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Malaysia and Luxembourg. Mr Bseisu is currently Bahrain Insurance Association chairman and the General Arab Insurance Federation vice-president. He has been with Solidarity since his appointment as general manager - finance and corporate management in July 2006 and has held several senior posts within the organisation. He has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance and financial services sector, where he held several executive positions.


Beltone Financial Holding, EFG-Hermes act as financial advisors in largest syndication to be covered from local banks worth $1.0

A consortium of four banks namely, National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, Arab African International Bank, and Banque du Caire arranged, underwrote and syndicated a facility for the Egyptian Nitrogen Products Company (ENPC). Faisal Islamic Bank was among the co-arrangers.

Bank of Alexandria creating Islamic fund

Les Afriques reported on 27 January that the Egyptian central bank has approved the request to create an Islamic fund by Bank of Alexandria. Details are not given.

Tamweel sets up holding - plans Sukuk

Parag Deulgaonkar reported on 7 April about the extraordinary shareholder meeting of Tamweel, deciding to restructure Tamweel as a holding firm. The UAE mortgage business, property investment, escrow management services and Tamweel International will be the first four operating units.

The company also plans to raise Dh 5.1 bn through sukuk in 2008. This total amount includes Dh 1.1 bn of convertible sukuk and Dh 4 bn of non-convertible sukuk.

Further Tamweel has signed a joint venture agreement with Al Oula Development Company in Saudi Arabia, where the company expects to open a subsidiary later this year. Other expansion plans include Egypt.

Wasim Saifi is CEO of Tamweel.
Zayed bin Saqer Al Nehayan is Chairman of Tamweel.


Qatar Islamic Bank studies expansion into Egypt and Turkey

Matthew Martin reported on 18 March that Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) is evaluating opportunities to acquire a conventional Egyptian bank and convert it into an Islamic bank, and is also applying for a banking licence in Turkey.
Qatar Islamic Bank will likely follow its strategy of independent brands, like before in regard to European Finance House in London, Asian Finance House in Malaysia and Arab Finance House in Lebanon.


Takaful help Prudential to make as much profit in Asia as in UK

The Guardian reported on 17th March about the takaful business of Prudential. Prudential is looking to expand into Egypt as the executive who runs the insurer's fast-growing Asian business seeks other markets with scope for rapid growth, like before Indonesia, where 25% of all sales in the fourth quarter of 2007 were sharia-compliant products.

Figures on Friday showed that profits of the Pru's Asian operations broke through £1bn for the first time in 2007 and now match the profits achieved by the insurer's traditional UK operations.

Stowe is already responsible for 13 countries. In India, he believes Pru can soon overtake the state-owned insurer that occupies the number-one slot in the country.


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