Keen on developing Islamic finance in Kazakhstan

During a recent visit to Astana, foreign Islamic bankers announced that Kazakhstan is strongly interested in developing Islamic finance. The central Asian nation is emerging strongly as the most proactive and advanced Islamic finance market, Gazeta.kz reported. President Nazarbayev is keen to develop diversified economic relations with both traditional partners such as Russia but also with the West and the Middle East Muslim nations. Kazakhstan is a member of the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) and the IDB.

A delegation from Malaysia’s International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) visiting Kazakhstan at the end of January was encouraged by the developments in the Islamic finance in the CIS country. The visit was part of the MIFC’s objective of consolidating Malaysia as the international hub for Islamic finance and its efforts to foster bilateral ties and cross-border cooperation in Islamic finance. The MIFC visit in January also coincided with the Islamic Finance Forum which was addressed by key MIFC initiative stakeholders.

source : new europe

Amana Takaful Sri Lanka gets General Insurance licence in Maldives

The Maldives Monetary Authority has granted the license for Amana Takaful (Maldives) Pvt. Limited, the Maldivian subsidiary of Amana Takaful Plc, to begin general insurance with effect from 4 March.

The company launched its operations in 1998 in collaboration with Takaful Malaysia, one of the largest Takaful operators in the world. It offers life and general insurance policies.

The consolidated loss of Amana Takaful Plc for the year ended 31 December 2009 was Rs. 8.547 million and accumulated group losses stood at Rs. 300.959 million.

source : dailymirror.lk

Islamic megabank to launch in 6-12 mths

The creation of a planned Islamic investment megabank is in “fairly advanced stages” and it will likely be launched in the next six to 12 months, an executive at a firm advising on the project said on Feb 18.

A plan to form the world’s largest syariah-compliant lender — which is being promoted by the chairman of Al Baraka Banking Group Sheikh Saleh Abdulla Kamel — has been in the works for some years.

Sheikh Saleh said last April the global financial crisis had delayed the project, but that they hoped to launch it by the fourth quarter of 2009.

“The key shareholders I would say are on board and we are looking for an imminent launch, within six months to a year”, Sameer Abdi, head of Islamic finance at Ernst & Young, told the Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit in Bahrain.

Sheikh Saleh said in April the new institution so far had about 10 shareholders, including the Islamic Development Bank, Saudi Investment bank and the Kuwait Real Estate Bank.

Bigger Islamic banks are seen crucial for the industry to realise its growth potential and to compete with Islamic windows or subsidiaries of Western conventional banks that have large market shares in wholesale banking services.

Abdi said the bank’s “capital aspirations” were between US$3 billion (RM10.2 billion) and US$4 billion.

“It’s progressing very, very quickly, even in such tough market conditions,” Abdi said. Conventional banks, regional as well as international, would likely play a role in the project, but their exact role had yet to be decided.

“Possibly as shareholders, possibly as technical consultants, possibly as operators… all those options are being explored,” Abdi said.

Possible jurisdictions to host the bank include Malaysia and Bahrain, with a third being considered, he said

source : the edge

Islamic banking to grow, UniCredit says

Italy’s biggest bank, UniCredit, has called Islamic banks “the fastest growing segment in Turkish banking,” according to Bloomberg.

In Turkey, such banks are known as “participation banks.”

Participation bank Albaraka Türk’s shares were rated “buy” and Asya Katılım Bankası’s “hold” in new coverage at UniCredit. The Italian lender set a price estimate of 4.5 Turkish Liras for Bank Asya and 3.04 liras for Albaraka Türk, a unit of Bahrain-based Albaraka Banking Group, analysts including Ercan Uysal wrote in an e-mailed report Thursday.

The banks are its top picks, UniCredit said.

Between August 2008 and Jan. 8, 2010, the credit volume of Turkish participation banks grew 9.7 percent, according to a Jan. 27 story by business daily Referans. In the same period, the credit volume of private banks contracted 1 percent, while that of public banks expanded 25 percent, a reflection of global concerns about the health of private banking. In the same period, the share of participation banks in overall credit volume rose to 3.9 percent, from 3.8 percent.

Participation banks, which had 148 branches in Turkey at the end of 2002, had 558 branches as of the end of 2009.

In another note, UniCredit rated the Turkish investment bank Türkiye Sınai Kalkınma Bankası, or TSKB, “hold” in new coverage, with a price estimate of 2.12 liras. “With its stable and niche business model, TSKB is an attractive defensive banking play,” it said.

Şekerbank was rated “sell” in new coverage on “low profitability,” UniCredit said.

Investors should also sell shares in Turk Ekonomi Bankası, the Turkish unit of BNP Paribas, UniCredit said. A merger between TEB, as the bank is known, and fellow group unit Fortis Bank may hurt profitability, it added.

source : hurriyat