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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Indonesia’s gain in Islamic banking

Indonesia is drawing interest from Middle-Eastern banks seeking to tap the world’s biggest pool of Shariah-compliant investors as some Islamic lenders wind down or close operations in Malaysia and Singapore. Emirates NBD PJSC wants to invest at least US$300 million (RM1.32 billion) in a new Shariah lender or acquire a stake in an existing one, Dhani Gunawan Idat at Indonesia’s financial regulator said. 

That’s a vote of confidence for Southeast Asia’s largest economy, which is also bidding to host the regional infrastructure unit of Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank that’s due to begin operations in 2016.

The investments would be a boost for Indonesia in its ambition to become an Asian hub in the US$2 trillion industry. Emirates NBD’s plan comes as Kuwait Finance House prepares to close its Islamic operations in Malaysia, while Bahrain’s Elaf Bank BSC has already done so. DBS Group Holdings Ltd is winding down its Singapore arm catering to Muslims, having said this month it was “unable to achieve economies of scale”. 

“Islamic banking elsewhere is starting to reach saturation point,” Dhani, director of Islamic banking research, regulation and licensing at the Financial Services Authority, said. “This investment will bring in fresh funds as well as Middle East expertise in infrastructure investment, which the economy needs.” Investmentfrom the Middle East would be timely as Indonesia’s Shariah-compliant banking assets have shrunk 18% in 2015 from a year earlier amid the global financial turmoil. They stood at 201 trillion rupiah (RM60.3 billion) in May, compared with Malaysia’s RM523 billion, central bank data show. Indonesia offered the highest profitability among nine major Islamic banking markets tracked by Ernst & Young LLP, with a return-on-equity of 15%, according to the company’s 2014-15 competitiveness report. 

That compared with 10% in both Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, 0.7% in Bahrain and 7.4% in Kuwait, the research firm said. While Indonesia limits foreign ownership in the nation’s lenders to 40% under legislation introduced in 2013, it’s seeking to consolidate the banking industry. In that vein, the FSA will allow an investor to take a bigger stake as long as the buyer merges the two entities. Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest lender, was advised to open a new Islamic bank in the Southeast Asian nation to sidestep the ruling, Dhani said. A spokesman for Emirates NBD, who asked not to be identified, declined to comment on the Indonesia plan. “Indonesia has some resistance towards foreign banks coming into the market,” said Megat Hizaini Hassan, head of the Islamic finance practice at law firm Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill in Kuala Lumpur. “The perception of some in Indonesia is that foreign banks are trying to gobble up the business.”

 Malayan Banking Bhd in Kuala Lumpur bought out PT Bank Internasional Indonesia in 2008 before the investment cap was brought in, and then set up PT Bank Maybank Syariah Indonesia in 2010. Malaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings Ltd and Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp entered the local market in 2002 and 2008, respectively, and now offer Shariah-compliant products via PT Bank CIMB Niaga Syariah and PT Bank OCBC NISP. The Islamic Development Bank, whose largest shareholders are Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran and Nigeria, may choose Indonesia as the base for its Islamic Investment Infrastructure Bank, Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said in April. The government is approaching “key countries,” especially those in the Middle East, to earn the right to host the IDB, he said. 

The multilateral lender currently owns 32.7% of PT Bank Muamalat Indonesia, the country’s second-largest Shariah-compliant bank by branches. Singapore’s DBS Holdings abandoned its plan to buy conventional lender PT Bank Danamon Indonesia for US$6.5 billion in 2013 due to the new ownership rule. China Construction Bank and South Korea’s Shinhan Bank are currently seeking two acquisition targets to merge. “The Indonesian Islamic banking market has all the ingredients to achieve similar, if not more success” than its counterparts, said Alhami Abdan, head of international finance and capital market at Kuala Lumpur-based OCBC Al-Amin Bank Bhd.

(The Malaysian Insider  29 September 2015)
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Islamic Finance market set to reach $3.25 trillion by 2020

Dubai: World Islamic finance market is set to almost double by 2020 from the current $1.81 trillion to $3.25 trillion, led by banking and Takaful assets, a study has revealed.

Commercial banking contributes to about $1.34 trillion, while $33.4 billion is contributed by takaful insurance, while sukuks contribute to about $295 billion of the world Islamic Finance market.
“It is growing at about 10 per cent per annum, with the significant concentration of wealth in Islamic banking,” said Mustafa Adel, Acting Head of Islamic Finance at Thomson Reuters, adding commercial banking assets is projected to reach $2.6 trillion by 2020.
The growth has been fuelled by banking and Takaful assets, which have grown 12 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, while sukuk and funds witnessed modest growth of 6 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.
Various countries in the Islamic finance space are very sensitive to issues like interest rates and falling oil prices, and experts reckon this could have strong implications for the emerging economies.
“The chilling effect of a toxic trifecta of macro economic risk-anaemic real sector growth, lower capital inflows, and worsening domestic finances sparked by expected US interest rates rises, would combine to create strong downward pressure on emerging economies,” stated the report, titled ‘State of the Global Islamic Economy 2015/16’.
The continued presence of significant macroeconomic and geopolitical hazards do not augur well for Islamic Finance sector. Economically many countries like Indonesia and Turkey remain fairly exposed to this damaging trifecta of low real sector growth, reduced capital inflows and impact of rising rates in the US.
As far as the falling oil prices are concerned, the situation presents a broader dilemma for various Islamic countries, on how they would maintain their long term public spending without impacting its fiscal sustainability.
Dubai’s competencies:
“With the Islamic economy, we are utilising Dubai competencies in general, as it is a well developed trade hub, it has well developed physical and regulatory infrastructure,” said Abdulla Mohammad Al Awar, chief executive of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre.
“Our concentration is on creating synergies within sectors, like for example finance is used to fuel growth in Halal, tourism, etc, and that’s the ultimate goal,” he added.
But with this comes many challenges, experts said.
“Companies are not able to tap the global Muslim market because standards and regulations vary significantly. That obviously is a challenge, but there is a huge opportunity as well that exist within that. Countries in the Asean, GCC region is looking to developed a single standardised structure, so with that companies would be able to achieve the economies of scale as opposed to global chains,” Adel said.
(Gulf News Economy / 29 September 2015)
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Monday, 21 September 2015

Call to dispel Islamic banking misconceptions in Oman

Muscat: There are some misconceptions about Islamic banking in Oman, which need to be dispelled through raising awareness about this sector, says a senior official at Bank Nizwa.

“Perhaps many market participants believe that Islamic banking is just a way to ‘Islamise’ interest and they keep comparing Islamic banks to conventional banks,” Dr Jamil El Jaroudi, chief executive officer of Bank Nizwa, told ‘Times of Oman’ in an exclusive interview.

“At Bank Nizwa, it is not only our belief, but also our commitment to build Islamic banking true to its core based on Sharia,” said the official at Oman's first dedicated Islamic bank.

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, we do have to provide alternatives to the current conventional products to suit the demand of customers. This process will take time. In the meantime, we can help to re-design the basic concept of finance based on Sharia, which is more equitable to all rather than only based on debt,” he said.

‘Social philanthropic’

“Another misconception is that Islamic banking is similar to a social philanthropic entity. Accordingly, why do Islamic banks ask for profit margins and fees and this is why knowledge about this industry is imperative to succeed,” the official added.

“Yes, there are ethical and social obligations but above all, Islamic banks are commercial and profit oriented businesses owned by investors who chose to put their wealth at work in a Sharia-compliant manner,” El Jaroudi explained.

Asked what Islamic banking provides should do to help enhance the performance of this sector, the CEO of Bank Nizwa said that they need to grow to a certain size to be able to compete on equal footings, meaning good services and good returns to both clients and investors.


“Islamic banks need to be protected, may be incentivised as well, until it gets there because the ultimate beneficiary is the economy of Oman,” he said.

In addition, El Jaroudi said that Oman can learn from the Islamic finance experience of its neighbouring countries as well as other countries in the Far East and other regions.

“Oman has the advantage of seeing and learning from the experiences of the other markets, be it good or bad. If you look at Oman’s Islamic banking regulations, it is very much influenced by this, in addition to choosing what Oman decides is right for its market,” he said.

“However, learning does not stop here. Now we need to dig more into the main benefits of Islamic finance to economies in general and be prepared to modify or add what benefits the Sultanate the most,” El Jaroudi stated.

(Times Of Oman / 20 September 2015)
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Islamic finance prospects in Africa highly promising

JEDDAH —  A newly-released report “Islamic Finance in Africa: A Promising Future” by the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) takes an in-depth look at the tremendous growth opportunities for Islamic finance to flourish in the region. The new report was released during the Africa Islamic Finance Forum 2015 in Abidjan.

The report is being published as the global banking community comes together to define a transformative new landscape to integrate Islamic finance into the mainstream. 

Once of interest only to a niche market of Muslim investors, Islamic finance is now venturing beyond its traditional sphere, and is slowly gaining widespread acceptance in Africa.

The birthplace of a quarter of the global Muslim population, the report highlights that Africa features a potentially strong demand for Islamic financial services and products. 

While still comparatively under-developed, Islamic finance is expanding in many parts of the region, and is now present across most of North Africa and in many countries of East and West Africa, particularly those with sizeable Muslim communities. 

One of the recommendations of the report is that Islamic finance can act as the catalyst in mobilizing funding into Africa, thereby resulting in economic growth and sustainable development. 

It is estimated that the region needed $93.0 billion per year to finance large-scale infrastructure and manufacturing projects, while external funding is also needed to offset ballooning fiscal deficits. 

Meanwhile, 2 billion adults remain unbanked globally, and currently, sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for as much as 17.0% of the world’s unbanked adults. 

In addition, there is a significant funding potential opportunity for Islamic banks in view of the increasing emergence of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) across Africa. 

In light of relatively low-income levels, a large informal sector and the prevalence of small businesses in Africa, Islamic microfinance is also a growth area worth looking into.

The report also highlights notable progress in the sukuk sector, where recent developments have seen governments focusing more on creating a more enabling environment for sukuk issuances. 

Some countries which have issued sukuk include Gambia, Sudan, Senegal and South Africa, while Ivory Coast is lining up to issue its debut sukuk at the end of the year. 

Moving forward, several countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco have expressed keen interest in tapping the sukuk market for infrastructure financing and have finalized or are in the midst of finalizing their legal frameworks to promote sukuk issuances. 

Although the Islamic financial services industry in Africa is currently dominated by the banking and sukuk segments, growth potential remains in the asset management and takaful spheres. 

In its key recommendations, the report underlines that to capture the tremendous potential, the regional industry must overcome various challenges which are broadly similar with challenges faced in other parts of the world. 

These include challenges on the regulatory front such as regulatory inconsistency, the shortage of qualified human capital, the lack of awareness and financial literacy by many end-users and consumers, and a conducive business landscape which will support the growth of Islamic finance. 

(Saudi Gazette / 20 September 2015)
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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Indonesia lists world's biggest sukuk in Dubai

Indonesia listed on Sunday four sukuk valued at Dh22 billion - the largest ever carried out by a sovereign issuer on Nasdaq Dubai - as Dubai further reinforced its position as the world's leading hub for Islamic economy.

Indonesia's Finance Minister Bambang Bodjonegoro, who rang the market-opening bell to celebrate the listing of the Islamic bonds said it was an important step forward in further strengthening his country's ties with the UAE and the wider Middle East.
With the new listings, Dubai, which had already overtaken rival financial centres to become the world's leading sukuk hub in line with the goal set by the leadership, has boosted the listed nominal value of sukuk to Dh135 billion, with Nasdaq Dubai accounting for 93 per cent of that amount.
Sunday's sukuk listings are the largest ever carried out by a sovereign issuer in Dubai, underscoring the Emirate's growth as the global capital of the Islamic Economy.            
Bodjonegoro said Indonesia, the biggest Muslim nation with a total population of 255 million people, is a frequent sukuk issuer in the global market. "Since our international debut in 2009, we have issued global sukuk valued at 7.65 billion dollars," he said.
The minister said the latest listings underlined importance of sukuk as a global sovereign financial tool for investment and development and strengthen confidence in Islamic finance regulatory environment in Dubai and the UAE. 
Mohammed Abdulla Al Gergawi, the UAE Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, said the listing of the Indonesian sukuk was a milestone in the drive by Dubai to become the capital of the global Islamic economy.  
Gergawi said Sunday's listing would play a significant role in attracting further sukuk from around the world and further strengthen global confidence in Dubai as the capital of the Islamic Economy. It will encourage more countries and  corporations to utilise sukuk as a financial sovereign and investment tool in their development plans in the medium and long term.
Nasdaq Dubai attracted sukuk listings valued at $13.4 billion in 2014 and has added $12.6 billion so far in 2015.
By July, Dubai has overtaken other Islamic bond markets as the value of sukuk listed on the emirate's exchanges hit $36.7 billion, ahead of the world's three traditional sukuk centres: Malaysia, with $26.6 billion listed on Bursa Malaysia and the Labuan free trade zone, the Irish Stock Exchange with $25.7 billion, and the London Stock Exchange with $25.1 billion.
Leadership in global sukuk was a goal set by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in his 2013 initiative to make the emirate the capital of the Islamic economy.
 While 56 per cent of Dubai's listed sukuk are from UAE issuers, 22 per cent are from Saudi Arabia. Ali said he wanted the proportion from the Gulf countries outside the UAE to grow.
The four sukuk listings by the Indonesian government under its Trust Certificate Issuance Programme comprise one issuance of $2 billion, two of $1.5 billion each, and one of $1 billion.  
"The success of Dubai's Islamic capital markets is based on our deep-rooted traditions in this field and the profound knowledge of the many experts based within the Emirate. We are delighted to collaborate with issuers and other specialists around the globe to maintain the growth of the sector for the benefit of all participants," said Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, Secretary General of DIEDC and Chairman of DFM.
Abdul Wahed Al Fahim, Chairman of Nasdaq Dubai, said the exchange would further develop its close ties with international and regional investors,  underpinning the global visibility of the sukuk issued by the government of Indonesia. "Nasdaq Dubai is positioned to support many more Islamic capital-raising activities by governments and public and private sector issuers around the world."
Hamed Ali, Chief Executive of Nasdaq Dubai, said  Nasdaq Dubai is continually  enhancing its swift and responsive listing process, as well as its comprehensive post-listing services. "We are committed to introducing further innovation and product development across the Islamic capital markets sector.
(Khaleej Times / 14 September 2015)
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Lifting of Iran sanctions to fuel Islamic finance growth

The lifting of international sanctions on Iran will boost the country's economy and fuel the growth of Islamic finance, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Tuesday.

For Iran - one of the largest players in the Islamic finance industry contributing to around 40 per cent of global Islamic banking assets - the lifting of sanctions could bring about its eventual economic rebound and help boost Islamic finance.
The ratings agency said in a report that if Iran meets all deliverables, sanctions may start to lift in the first half of 2016.
The World Bank estimates this would help Iran's oil exports rebound to pre-2012 sanction levels within eight to 12 months. Sanctions lifting could also restore Iran's access to the global financial markets. Under this scenario, Iran's GDP growth would hover around six per cent annually in fiscals 2017 and 2018 according to market estimates, compared with less than one per cent in 2015.
"We expect that accessing the sukuk market might help Iran raise funding for its projects and be seen by global Islamic investors as a diversification opportunity. The Islamic financial market could also benefit from volume effects as post-sanction investment projects are reportedly high. This could support market growth in the medium term," S&P said.
The flipside of sanction removals is the possible drop in oil prices. This could intensify pressure on some oil exporting countries that rely heavily on oil revenues, in turn curbing their spending and banking system growth, the report said.
Tehran is aiming to ramp up oil production despite a supply glut that has sent prices down drastically.
Iran, which has the fourth-biggest oil reserves in the world and is pumping about 2.8 million barrels a day, is expected to add between 600,000 and one million barrels to output once sanctions are lifted.
But Iranian authorities are much more bullish and aim for an increase of close to 1.5 million barrels by the end of 2016, taking daily production to 4.2 million.
For banks in the UAE and Lebanon, the opening up of the Iranian economy bodes well with Tehran lining up $100 billion worth of energy deals to kick-start its economy.
Potentially, Western, Chinese and Indian banks also will likely be attracted to Iran's diversified economy and significant trade flows, according to Moody's.
(Khaleej Times / 16 September 2015)
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Monday, 7 September 2015

Germany urges more Islamic finance integration globally

ANKARA: Islamic finance is increasingly important in the global economy and needs to be better integrated into the international financial system, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told a meeting of the Group of 20 leading economies.

“We all have a better understanding of the risks and role of Islamic finance now,” Schaeuble, reporting on the G20’s Investment and Infrastructure Working Group, told G-20 finance ministers and central bankers gathered in Ankara.

The World BankIslamic Development Bank and countries including Saudi Arabia and South Africa had shared their practical experiences with asset-backed financing and Islamic finance in particular over the past year, he said.

“Islamic finance is growing in importance for the global economy. It is therefore important that international financial institutions consider questions related to integrating Islamic finance into global finance,” Schaeuble said, according to a text of his speech obtained from the German delegation.
Islamic finance holds systemic importance in countries such as Kuwait and Qatar, and has made wider gains buoyed by support from governments such as Pakistan and Turkey.
The asset-backed nature of Islamic finance should in theory make it ideal to build highway networks, ports and other big projects. 

An estimated $800 billion worth of infrastructure financing will be needed each year in Asia alone over the next decade, according to the Asian Development Bank.

(Arab News / 07 September 2015)
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Foreign Appetite for Malaysia Sukuk Narrows Spread

Spreads on 10 year Malaysian sukuk over conventional bonds have more than halved since being added to the Barclays Global Aggregate Index. Malaysia’s Shariah-compliant government investment issues were included in the Barclays Global Aggregate Index on March 31, with a weighting of 0.18 percent.

It was estimated the move would attract at least $2.5 billion to $3 billion of flows into the Malaysian sukuk market. The average yield on 10-year Malaysian sovereign sukuk at the start of the year was 4.23%, compared with 3.93% for non-Islamic notes of the same maturity, according to Bank Negara data.


At the time of the announcement is was estimated the move would help narrow the premium between the conventional and Islamic note. In an interview with Bloomberg Azidy Daud, head of treasury at Asian Finance Bank Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur, said the move would “Spur growth in the Islamic finance industry, as it will create demand from more conventional banks and investors.” though he added it was unlikely to attract more Islamic funds from the Gulf. Malaysia mainly uses the Bay’ al-inah and Murabaha structures. Bay’ al-inah which  involves the sale and buyback of an asset by the seller, isn’t acceptable in the Gulf, whilst Murabaha, which uses cost plus mark-up transactions between parties, faces restrictions in the Gulf also, Azidy added.


Bloomberg’s Kuala Lumpur Bureau Chief Shamim Adam stated the tightening of spreads is an indication foreign investors have become more comfortable with Malaysian sukuk. Lower yields assist Malaysia in increasing depth of its capital markets which it turn will help it achieve its year 2020 target of having 40% of its banking assets being based on Islamic Finance principles against 26% currently.
(Islamic Finance.Com / 06 September 2015)
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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Turkiye Finans, Albaraka Turk apply for lira sukuk

Aug 31 Turkish Islamic lenders Turkiye Finans Katilim Bankasi and Albaraka Turk have applied separately to issue Islamic bonds, or sukuk, according to Turkey's Capital Markets Board.

Turkiye Finans, a sharia-compliant lender which has a focus on loans to corporate clients, has applied to raise up to 1.5 billion lira ($513.2 million) through its wholly-owned unit, TF Varlik Kiralama.
No tenor or details of underlying assets were given for the deal, which could be sold as a public offering or to qualified investors.
Last month, sources told Reuters that Turkiye Finans was planning a dollar-denominated sukuk to bolster its supplementary capital.
Albaraka Turk, a unit of Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group, has also applied to raise up to 1 billion lira through its asset-leasing company, Bereket Varlik Kiralama.

Earlier this month, Albaraka Turk mandated banks for an Islamic syndicated loan with a total initial amount of $400 million.
(Reuters / 31 August 2015)
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Iran boasts $518b banking asset, highest in Islamic world

TEHRAN – Iran’s banking asset amounts to $518 billion, making the country the biggest asset holder in Islamic banks, said Mehdi Razavi, the chairman of Iran Banking Institute. 

Addressing the 26th Annual Islamic Banking Conference in Tehran on Tuesday, Razavi said that the country accounts for 37 percent of the Islamic world’s total banking assets. 

“From 1995 to 2014, Islamic banks and financial institutes have seen an approximately annual growth of 20 percent and their total asset value has increased from $300 million in 2005 to about $2000 billion in 2014”. 

“According to some estimates, the total asset value of Islamic banks will touch $3,400 billion in 2018”, Razavi highlighted. 

According to published statistics, the number of Islamic banks and financial institutes has surpassed 600 across the world. 

Business Monitor has predicted a 21 percent asset growth in 2016 for Iranian banks, amounting to $586.06 billion.  

Although Iranian banks were under western economic sanctions, a 40 percent asset growth was fulfilled. Iranian banks' total assets were estimated to be approximately $301 billion and $403 billion in 2013 and 2014, respectively.  

Furthermore, granted loans by Iranian banks amounted to approximately $153.93 billion in 2014 and the loans were up 19% in 2014, hitting $183.33 billion.  

In regards to deposit attraction by Iranian banks, 22 percent growth has been predicted, amounting to approximately $219.09 billion, the report reveals. The amount had been allegedly about $179.39 billion in 2014.  

(Tehran Times / 02 September 2015)

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