Friday, 04 March 2011 | Rabiʻ I 29, 1432 | Last updated at 10:54
ABU DHABI: Gatehouse Bank, a London-based Shariah compliant investment bank, plans to bring a $96.77 million Islamic bond to market by the end of the first quarter, its chief executive said. Richard Thomas, speaking on the sidelines of an Islamic forum in Abu Dhabi, said the bank would also arrange a 25-million pound ($40 million) syndicated lease financing this year.
Yemen is the latest country to announce that it may raise much-needed financing from the financial markets through a debut sovereign sukuk issuance sometime in the first half of 2011. Yemeni officials including Finance Minister Nouman Al-Suhaibi and Governor of the Central Bank of Yemen Mohammed Awad bin Hammam have over the last few weeks confirmed that the government is actively considering issuing a debut sukuk of up to $500 million during 2011 but only at the right pricing and timing.
Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) that are authorized by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the central bank, and the Securities Commission Malaysia, the securities regulator, and have been operating in the country have six months to comply with all requirements of the new Shariah governance framework (SGF) for Islamic financial institutions which was introduced by Malaysia late last year and which became effective on Jan. 1.
Islamic finance made its debut in WikiLeaks last week when the whistleblower par excellence passed on a diplomatic cable dispatch to The Telegraph, sent by Robert Holmes Tuttle, the then US ambassador to the Court of St. James in London, to his bosses at the State Department and the US Treasury, outlining the UK government’s policy on Islamic finance and warned that London is getting the competitive edge on Wall Street as the international financial center because it has actively sought to promote itself as a global hub for Islamic finance.
The launch over the last few weeks by the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE) of their debut equity indexes which comply with non-interest based Islamic investment principles is potentially a major development for the Islamic capital market and asset management industry.
Malaysian trustee company Amanah Raya Berhad is joining forces with Fattah Finance, a local Kazakh brokerage company, and the state-owned Development Bank of Kazakhstan to conduct a feasibility study to establish the second Islamic bank in the CIS country. The aim is to submit an application for an Islamic-banking license later this year under new legislation introduced by Kazakhstan in 2009 to facilitate the establishment of Islamic banks and the introduction of Islamic financial products in the country.
MANAMA: With over 20 percent of sustained annual growth and having achieved the critical volume estimated at $1 trillion in Islamic assets by 2010, the Islamic financial institutions are at crossroads entering 2011, according to Ernst & Young.
The dawn of the new Hijrah year and 2011 could either signify more of the same as in the last year or a leap toward the first steps to taking the global Islamic finance industry to the next level as Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak's government says it aspires to do.
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the central bank, last week published the draft of its latest Shariah consultation on Islamic financial products, the "Concept Paper of Shariah Parameter Reference 5: Istisna Contract (SPR5)". According to BNM, SPR5 is aimed at becoming the true source of reference on the nature and features of the Istisna contract for the Islamic financial services industry and to facilitate the consistent implementation of the contract in the Malaysian financial market.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak last week reiterated in the Dewan Rakyat (the Parliament) that the country's New Economic Policy (NEP), which promotes the economic empowerment of the indigenous peoples and the Bumiputeras (Malays) and their poverty alleviation through affirmative action, will continue and is still relevant today. The NEP was first introduced in 1971 by no other person than the father of Najib, the much-revered late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia's second prime minister.
The reported failure of the strategy and finance committee of the South Korean National Assembly chaired by Kang Ghil Boo in December to approve a finance bill introduced by the Ministry of Finance which would have given tax neutrality to alternative financial products such as sukuk (Islamic securities) is a wake-up call for the global Islamic finance industry.
In a timely rejoinder to the world of Islamic finance, Malaysia is pushing for the development of a legal framework for Islamic finance that is “internationally facilitative." Given that many jurisdictions are interested in Islamic finance and have taken initiatives to develop the industry through reviewing their legal framework to facilitate the introduction of a range of Islamic financial products, including more recently France, Ireland, Australia, Jordan, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Lebanon, this augurs well for sustainable global growth of Islamic finance going forward.
The doctrinal phase of the Islamic finance industry over the last decade — which was underpinned by the debate over Shariah-compliant versus Shariah-based products — is effectively passé.
Reports that the Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) is in the process of drafting rules to regulate the shareholdings and the number of supervisory boards individual Shariah advisories can sit on will open one of the most contentious issues in contemporary Islamic finance. Not that the issue is new. There have been calls for the registration of Shariah advisories for the last two decades — not by an industry Shariah body but by the regulators in the country in which they are based and in those countries in which they offer advisory services.
In the wake of the global financial crisis, it is not surprising that accounting and reporting standards, transparency and disclosure have been as much on the agenda as risk management, capital adequacy, stress testing and financial stability. Islamic finance, now being an acknowledged part of the global financial system and gaining increased acceptability, similarly needs to strengthen the accounting, financial reporting, auditing and disclosure standards within the industry.
The International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM), which was launched in Kuala Lumpur in October, took a step closer to becoming a reality when its governing board last week appointed Mahmoud AbuShamma as its inaugural chief executive officer (CEO), for a three-year tenure effective Feb. 1, 2011.
The Islamic fund management industry, long considered to be the Cinderella asset class of the Islamic finance sector, is set to gain momentum especially in Southeast Asia and Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom and Malaysia are the two largest markets by far for Islamic investment funds, both in terms of net asset value (NAV) and number of funds.
The appointment last week by the council of governors of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) of Jaseem Ahmed as its new secretary-general comes at a time when the prudential and supervisory standard setting organization of the global Islamic finance industry is poised to enter its next stage of development since it was first established in 2002.
THE launch by India’s Tata Group of its debut Islamic equity fund two weeks ago sees the entry of another major Indian asset management company in the Islamic finance space. This follows the establishment by the rival Reliance Anil Dhirubahi Ambani Group of a dedicated Islamic asset management company in Malaysia, Reliance Asset Management Malaysia Sdn Bhd, in late 2009 to spearhead its global Islamic asset management activities.
THE Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will be preoccupied with two developments in 2011 apart from its established plan of action. This is the progress toward the launch of its mega bank project and the other is the continuation of its trust certificate (sukuk) program.
BANK Negara Malaysia (BNM), the central bank, has given two conditional licenses to separate parties to establish mega Islamic banks in the country. BNM Gov. Zeti Akhtar Aziz confirmed that one of the conditional licenses is likely to be converted into a full license by the end of 2010, with the second one to follow by the end of the first half in 2011.
Straight from being named with six others as the “The World’s Best Central Bankers in 2010” by New York-based Global Finance magazine in its latest issue, Zeti Akhtar Aziz, governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the central bank, not surprisingly was in great demand as a keynote speaker at several of the important side meetings at the 2010 IMF-World Bank annual meetings which was held in Washington last week.
ELAF Bank is a wholesale Islamic bank incorporated in Bahrain in 2007. Its shareholders include Aref Investment Group of Kuwait; Kuwait Investment Company (KIC); Sukuk Holding Company; Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector funding arm of the Islamic Development Bank; and Qatar Islamic Bank.
From being a small and unimportant Islamic bank established in 1978 and under the loyal and unbroken stewardship of the seasoned General Manager Musa Shihadeh, Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB) has, over the last three decades transformed itself into the largest Islamic lender and the third largest domestic bank in Jordan. This is by all standards impressive given that JIB’s main competitor in the market is the mighty Arab Bank Group.
It is a step in the right direction, but in terms of adding critical mass to the pool of issuances of international sukuk, it is a mere drop in the ocean. Nevertheless, the successful closure in early October 2010 by Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), the largest Islamic bank in Qatar, of its debut $750 million fixed-rate Wakala sukuk underlines the fact that despite the huge latent appetite for “A” rated Islamic commercial paper from investors all over the world, such issuances are too few and far between to stimulate an effective global sukuk market and its attendant secondary trading.
After a dismal 2008 and 2009, is the tide starting to turn for the five Islamic banks authorized in the UK - Bank of London and The Middle East (BLME), Gatehouse Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank UK (formerly European Finance House), European Islamic Investment Bank (EIIB) and Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB)?
“The Islamic fund industry needs to evaluate new strategies to restimulate growth. Islamic fund assets remained flat in 2009 at $52 billion, whereas the potential wealth pool grew by 20 percent, now estimated at $480 billion,” concludes the Islamic Funds & Investments Report (IFIR) 2010 which was published by international auditing and advisory firm Ernst & Young in September 2010.
Because of market developments and increasing competition which has led to product innovation and diversity, the Prudential Financial Policy Department of Bank Negara Malaysia has reviewed the regulatory framework for insurance and Takaful products "to further enhance consumer protection while according greater flexibility for insurers and Takaful operators to respond to changing market conditions, both in managing risks and enhancing their competitiveness".
DUBAI, Sept 30 : It’s not unusual to hear people ask why Islamic finance does not embrace women. Given the global finance industry is dominated by men isn’t it even more difficult for Muslim women to make their mark on the $1 trillion Islamic finance industry?
The perceived sustainability and attractiveness of Islamic finance as an alternative financial management model in a post global financial crisis continues to flourish in new regions and countries trying to change banking regulations and laws to facilitate the introduction of such institutions and products in their respective jurisdictions.
Malaysia has introduced several measures to boost the development of human capital in the Islamic finance industry under the Malaysia International Islamic Finance (MIFC) initiative. Developing the next generation of Islamic finance executives and experts remains a major priority of the government and the Bank Negara Malaysia, the central bank. Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib bin Abdul Razak, in his capacity as the minister of finance, accorded the “Project of National Interest” (Projek Berkepentingan Negara) status to INCEIF University in July 2010 in recognition of its role in the development of the human capital for Malaysia’s growing Islamic finance industry.
Since the global financial crisis started to unfold in 2008, there have been several reports suggesting that Islamic banks have been less affected by the crisis because they are not allowed for ethical reasons to invest in the pernicious derivatives such as CDOs (credit default obligations) that precipitated the worst crisis the world has seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
THE best Islamic Finance principle to base the much-awaited Saudi mortgage law should be sukuk-based with a Shariah-compliant set of guidelines, Giambattista Atzeni, vice president and MENA business manager for corporate trust and a member of the steering committee of the Gulf Bond and Sukuk Association at BNY Mellon Corporate Trust in Dubai told Arab News.
THE Malaysian government’s call on the member countries of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to consider establishing “the world’s first supra-sovereign wealth fund” to invest in Muslim economies on the same returns expectations as for the SWF industry in general, merits serious discussion. The precedent involving the efficacy of intra-Arab funds however does not augur well for a Muslim supra-SWF.
The comments last week of Adnan Al-Musallam, chairman of beleagured Kuwaiti Islamic investment company, The Investment Dar (TID), following an extraordinary shareholders meeting that "This company is not up for liquidation. If it were, we would have liquidated it a long time ago," should give some hope to both shareholders and creditors of the company.
The accession of Al-Rajhi Investment and Banking Corporation Malaysia Berhad, the wholly-owned Islamic bank of Saudi Arabia's Al-Rajhi Bank in Malaysia, as a commodity trading participant (CTP) with Bursa Malaysia Islamic Services (BMIS) trading on its Bursa Suq Al-Sila' commodity Murabaha trading platform, could turn out to be a significant boost, not only for the platform but also for the Tawarruq contract.
THE approval by the shareholders of Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) at its general meeting last week of a £20 million capital injection from founding shareholder Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) gives the UK’s only dedicated Islamic commercial bank some much-needed breathing space.
LONDON: In a clear statement of intent, the Australian government has launched a series of initiatives that when completed and hopefully adopted will make the country one of the most proactive Islamic finance markets in the Asia-Pacific Region.
LONDON: The headline in The Times of London a few days ago could not have been more explicit: "Shariah-compliant banking products a 'huge flop’ in Britain." It is a pity that the writer was not more discerning or informed about Islamic banking in Britain.
Malaysia is fast establishing itself as the global hub for dedicated Islamic fund management companies. The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), the securities regulator chaired by Zarinah Anwar, granted at the end of June 2010 the latest Islamic fund management license to Saturna Capital Corp., an American fund manager with a good track record in managing Shariah-compliant funds. This brings the number of dedicated Islamic fund management companies licensed in Malaysia to twelve.
MANAMA: Bermuda is likely to see the first Islamic financial institution to be up and running by the year-end, a development which will boost the chances for Bermuda becoming an emerging hub for Islamic banking and finance for the world's largest economy, the USA.
London-based Gatehouse Bank, the latest Islamic bank to be authorized by the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA), has acquired One Sovereign Street, the home of British Telecom (BT's) regional headquarters in Leeds, for 40.175 million pounds sterling in one of the biggest commercial property deals to be closed in Yorkshire this year.
The question of late payments, defaults and compensation is potentially just as problematic for Islamic banking and finance as it is for the conventional financial sector.
With the global sukuk market largely back on track with Malaysia successfully closing its second sovereign issuance of $1.25 billion in June 2010, Indonesia indicating that it may go to the market with its second sovereign issuance and GE Capital confirming that it too will raise funds through a second sukuk, market education and knowledge, especially of Islamic Capital Markets (ICM), becomes a competitive advantage.
Japan, one of the world’s top three economies, has included tax reforms and regulatory measures for Islamic finance, as part of the country’s financial strategy, which is one of seven key components of the government’s “new growth strategy — blueprint for revitalizing Japan,” which was approved by the Japanese Cabinet last June and recently published.
Following the visit of President Rustam Minnikhanov of the Russian republic of Tatarstan to Malaysia in December and the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Kuala Lumpur between the Tatarstan government, the local IFC Linova, Malaysia’s Amanah Raya Berhad Group and Kuwait Finance House Malaysia (KFH Malaysia) whereby the parties would cooperate in facilitating the issuance of the debut sovereign sukuk of Tatarstan, work on the feasibility study on the sukuk origination is set to start this month.
The signing last week in Jeddah of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to cooperate in co-investment in projects in member countries mutual to both multilateral development banks (MDBs) is long overdue.
Following the successful closure in October by Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), the largest Islamic bank in Qatar, of its debut $750 million fixed-rate Wakala Sukuk issued on its behalf through a special purpose vehicle (SPV), QIB Sukuk Funding Limited, more Qatari corporates are coming to the market to raise funds through the issuance of Shariah-compliant commercial papers.
THE annual pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia takes place this week when up to three million Muslims from all over the world converge on the holy places in Makkah and Madinah and its satellite towns to perform Haj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.
WITH the Saudi mortgage law expected to be passed imminently, several banks and companies have been adopting strategies to leverage the huge opportunities in the Saudi real estate development, financing and affordable housing sectors.
The announcement by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) last Thursday at the side of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank Group annual meetings in Washington that a Memorandum of Participation has been signed for the establishment of the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) has left the Islamic finance industry with abated breath. The lack of a truly global and well-oiled liquidity management scheme has been the bane of the industry, with no government or supranational taking on the task until now.
The South African government’s recent confirmation that it is in the process of introducing tax neutrality laws for Mudaraba (trust financing), Murabaha (cost-plus financing) and Diminishing Musharaka (diminishing shared ownership) contracts is a long overdue recognition of the potential Islamic finance has for the country and the region. Financial services industry sources stress that the proposed tax neutrality measures are just the start and the wider objective is to introduce a comprehensive regulatory and legal framework to facilitate Islamic finance in the country both for financial inclusion and market liberalization and development reasons.
The Malaysian sukuk market continues its proactiveness with the latest two domestic issuances going to the market. Malaysian issuers in recent months have issued international currencies in US dollar and Singapore dollar, but the bulk of the business is done in local currency ringgit issuances. Malaysian entities such as Celcom Axiata Bhd and Padiberas Nasional Berhad (BERNAS), the national rice paddy investment partner, have recently launched two sukuk.
IN a move to position and strengthen its existing legal framework as ‘the Laws of Choice’ for Islamic financial transactions, Bank Negara Malaysia, the central bank, last week established a Law Harmonization Committee (LHC) comprising members from among key government stakeholders, including the Attorney General's Chambers as well as industry players and experienced Islamic finance legal practitioners.
LONDON: One of the unintended consequences of the global financial crisis is the increasing awareness of risk and how to manage risk in business, trade and investment.
The signing in Alkhobar of a strategic cooperation and alliance agreement between Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Hamad Al-Soaib Law Firm and the Luxembourg-based Lux Global Trust Services and Theisen Advocates recently is set to increase the use of the Duchy as a trust and tax domicile for Saudi investment products; investment vehicles such as special purpose vehicles (SPVs) used in the issuance of sukuk for instance; and the registration of investment funds, especially for UCITs (Undertakings for Collective Investment Trusts) of which Luxembourg is the world leader.
In the space of a mere five months since its first listing in August 2009, Bursa Malaysia, the national stock exchange, based in Kuala Lumpur, has emerged as the top listings exchange in the world for sukuk (Islamic bonds). By the end of December 2009, the value of sukuk program listings totaled $17.6 billion, comprising a total of 12 sukuk issuances.
In the last three months, the sukuk market in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has shown a remarkable turnaround from the difficult days of early 2009. The GCC market has effectively been playing catch up to developments in the sukuk market in Asia during 2009, where Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan have led the sector into recovery with a string of issuances starting in February 2009, largely government local currency sukuk and a number of sovereign international sukuk.
Whether it is at the Islamic Finance Summit held at the Cercle de l’Union Interalliée in Paris, France, or a lively open fatwa session at the Islamic Retail Banking Conference (IRBC) 2009 held in Dubai or the 1st Euro-Arab Real Estate Conference held in Barcelona, Spain, all held over the last two or three months, it is certain that a “new kid on the block” will be a key participant.
The imminent launch in early 2010 of the Shariah-compliant Structured Trade Finance Fund by Gatehouse Bank PLC, the latest wholesale Islamic bank authorized by the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA), and DDCAP Limited, the London-based wholesale Islamic market intermediary company, will see a welcome return to a classical bread-and-butter asset class and financing activity, which the Islamic finance industry seems to have neglected over the last few years.
LONDON: Another sign that the real estate market in the UK is bouncing back as investors are increasingly targeting bespoke and added value opportunities in traditional asset classes including real estate, albeit with selective niche opportunities, is the launching last week of the Peterborough Garden Park shopping complex development, following a 6.8 million pounds mezzanine financing by the Bank of London and The Middle East plc (BLME), the wholesale Shariah-compliant bank authorized by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the UK.
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the central bank, is pressing ahead with developing a series of Shariah parameters that would provide a standard guidance on applying the respective Shariah contracts in Islamic finance.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Islamic financial institutions should have an obvious fit given the faith-based ethos of Islamic finance, which also gives prominence not only to wealth creation and economic development but also to the promotion of social justice and concepts based on hard work, thrift and low or no indebtedness.
The launch of Europe’s first dedicated Islamic Finance and business Center at a mainstream British university, Aston Business School, which is part of Aston University in Birmingham, underlines the growing Islamic finance education industry in and out of the UK.
Maxim Osintsev is a Russian banker with a difference. He is a fluent Arabic speaker and has a passion for Islamic finance, which he says comes from the heart.
LONDON: Of the CIS countries, Kazakhstan is emerging as the most proactive and advanced Islamic finance market. According to foreign Islamic bankers recently visiting Astana, the Kazakh capital, there is very strong interest in Kazakhstan in developing Islamic finance.
JEDDAH: A leading economist has urged Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to open interest-free accounts in their banks in order to encourage the regulators and policy makers to license Islamic banks.
LONDON: Following the recent circular from the Luxembourg tax authorities describing the major principles and contracts of Islamic finance and their respective tax treatment, most financial market players have welcomed the measures.
LONDON: The launch of Thomson Reuters's supposedly "next generation Islamic Finance Gateway to guide the emerging industry to the next stage of growth and development" comes at a time when the industry is taking stock in the aftermath of the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s.
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There is even Much LESS than ONE Percent of Total Population of Pakistan who is EXTREMIST and wIFTIKHAR HUSSAIN
at Mar 4, 2011 15:25