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Saturday, 2 April 2016


Tehran—The Iranian Ministry of Finance issued IRR 5 trillion of four-year lease-based Sukuk on 16 March. Reuters reports that the bonds were sold through Iran Fara Bourse, Tehran’s over-the-counter market. The issue marks the first use by the Government of Iran of such bonds. Previously, in September 2015, another first had been notched up with the issuance of some $295 million in Islamic Treasury Bills on Iran Fara Bourse.

In a statement at the time, Amir Hamooni, CEO of Iran Fara Bourse commented, “Once sanctions are lifted by the early 2016, dollar or euro-denominated sukuk will be issued for an array of investors piled up to tap into Iran’s lucrative market.”

Deputy Economy Minister Shapour Mohammadi noted at the time that the Iranian Government is planning to continue issuing Islamic bonds, including T-bills. Reuters cites expectations that the Government will issue up to IRR 60 trillion in T-bills in 2016. “Banks could benefit from the debt market as a form of collateral, if the central bank gives its approval,” Mohammadi said last year. “We intend to introduce a law in 2016-17 to enable executive enterprises to accept these securities as credit or trade them at the bourse.

(Pakistan Observer / 31 March 2016)
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Malaysia: Slower growth for insurance, takaful sectors, says RAM Ratings

KUALA LUMPUR: RAM Rating Services expects growth in the Malaysian insurance and takaful sectors to moderate in 2016 amid the challenging landscape and uncertainties in the financial markets.

The ratings agency said on Thursday against its GDP forecast of 4.4% for 2016, gross premiums were projected to expand about 5% for life insurance, 2%-3% for general insurance and 4%-5% for takaful contributions.

“Despite the likelihood of slower momentum in the near term, the industry’s mid to long-term outlook remains favourable given the low insurance penetration rate, rising consumer awareness and greater efforts in product innovation and distribution,” it said.

RAM Ratings said insurers and takaful operators’ capitalisation levels and reserves remained robust and the industry is supported by a sound and prudent regulatory framework. 

“Against this backdrop, we have maintained a stable outlook on the credit profiles of our rated insurers and takaful operators. 

“Over the next few years, the operating landscape will evolve with regulatory-driven liberalisation. The detariffication of motor and fire insurance – to be implemented in phases beginning this year – bodes well for the sector as premiums will gradually commensurate with underwriting,” it said. 

RAM Ratings said the life and family takaful sectors would see greater operational flexibility as initiatives under the Life Insurance and Family Takaful Framework were gradually implemented. 

It pointed out these reforms might result in some short-term uncertainty for insurers and takaful operators during the initial adjustment period but they would be positive for the long-term growth and efficiency of the industry. 

In 2015, insurers and takaful operators were not spared the fallout from slower economic growth and subdued consumer sentiment. 

To recap, gross premiums in the general insurance segment rose only 1.7% (2014: 6.5%) on-year to RM15bil. Life insurance premiums grew 5.4% (2014: 7.7%) to RM37.4bil. 

Although family takaful continued to expand at 8.0% (2014: 4.4%), growth in the general takaful segment eased to 6.0% (2014: 13.3%), ending the year with RM7.0bil and RM2.3bil of gross contributions, respectively. 

Overall, the sector’s profit ebbed 13.8% as benefits and claims as well as commissions and management expenses outpaced the increase in premiums/contributions and investment returns fell amid a volatile market. 

(The Star Online / 31 March 2016) 
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Islamic Financial Planning & Wealth Management by Ahmad Sanusi Husain