Mauritius to open first Islamic bank

The palm-fringed island’s growing offshore financial sector pitches itself as a financial platform bridging Africa, the Indian sub-continent and Asia.

Mauritius is seeking to tap into the $1 trillion Islamic finance industry, and the central bank also plans to offer sharia-compliant short-term liquidity tools.

The Bank of Mauritius granted its first Islamic Banking licence in October 2009 to provide an alternative mode of financial intermediation to bank customers, central bank Governor Rundheersing Bheenick said.

“We expect the bank to be operational by the end of the first quarter of 2011,” Governor Bheenick wrote in his annual end-of-year letter to stakeholders.

Islamic banking is one of the world’s fastest growing financial sectors, with industry estimates putting annual growth at 15-20 per cent.

source : the telegraph

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Islamic bank takes first step in selling gold from ATMs

Turkish lender Kuveyt Türk has started selling “gold-on-the-go” from automatic teller machines, or ATMs, fulfilling a promise it made in January.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, İrfan Yılmaz, the deputy general manager of the lender, noted that Turkey ranks among the top gold importers.

“A huge portion of this gold is not being exported. It stays within the country,” Yılmaz said. “According to data from the Istanbul Gold Exchange, 2,500 tons of gold were imported in the past 15 years. This amounts to over $100 billion.”

A portion of this amount is exported, while nearly 1,500 tons of gold stays in the country, according to Yılmaz. “This makes $70 billion,” he said.

Noting that gold has a key place in Turkish people’s saving practices, Yılmaz said Kuveyt Türk’s rise in gold banking started with this assessment.

According to data from Kuveyt Türk, the Turkish banking system has around 42 tons of gold. Kuveyt Türk accounts for 20 percent of this amount. The lender’s gold transactions have reached an annual volume of $1 billion.

That compares with its less than 1 percent share of overall Turkish banking assets.

“Gold savings in Turkey, which stood at around 200 million to 250 million Turkish Liras in 2007, rose to 1.2 billion liras last year. The gold savings in banks is over $2 billion,” ” Yılmaz said. “According to estimates, more than 10 percent of national savings is in gold. We are working to attract some of this into the banking sector.”

Gram-gold sales from ATMs, a first in the world, will not bring a huge economic advantage to Kuveyt Türk, according to Yılmaz. Still, he expects “serious demand and transaction volume.”

Customers will be able to buy 1-gram and 2.5-gram gold pieces from ATMs. The service is currently only available at Kuveyt Türk’s headquarters branch. But it is expected to spread to 180 branches in the next year.

Kuveyt Türk is 62 percent owned by the Kuwait Finance House and 18 percent owned by Turkey’s General Directorate of Foundations.

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source : hurriyat daily news

Qatar International Islamic Bank to buy Islamic Bank of Britain

Qatar International Islamic Bank is to acquire full control of Islamic Bank of Britain for £25m ($40.2m).

The announcement comes after the Qatar Central Bank ordered commercial banks to shutter their Islamic banking units by the end of the year – a move that would benefit banks such as Qatar International Islamic Bank as well as Qatar Islamic Bank and Masraf Al Rayan.

acquisition part of global expansion strategy

Qatar International Islamic Bank already owns 81% of Islamic Bank of Britain and said that the acquisition was part of the bank’s global expansion strategy.

Qatar International Islamic Bank’s chairman, Sheikh Khalid bin Thani bin Abdullah Al-Thani said that the bank’s long-term strategy was to build an international Shariah-compliant banking business.

launched discretionary service in December

In December, Islamic Bank of Britain rolled out Sharia-compliant retail discretionary portfolio service in partnership with investment management platform provider Præmium Limited.

The launch of the service followed a capital injection of £20m from Qatar International Islamic Bank and is an extension of the bank’s wealth advisory service.

The service is available to both the bank’s UK and overseas clients.

source : private banker international

India may get its 1st foreign Islamic Bank in Bank Asya

NEW DELHI: India may soon get its first foreign Islamic bank with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) seeking government approval to allow Turkey’s Bank Asya to offer Shariah-compliant lending in the country. Shariah, or the Islamic law, bans interest on financing. Bank Asya is keen to start its Indian operations through a representative office in Mumbai. “So far the bank has only sought permission to open a representative office,” a finance ministry official said. “We are considering their application .”

Bank Asya had in 2009 received clearance from Turkey’s banking regulator to open a representative office in India. Its proposal has been pending with RBI for over a year. “After the global economic crisis, RBI has been stringent with allowing foreign banks in the country,” the finance ministry official said. “As a part of its liberalised policy for foreign banks, it has now granted permission to Bank Asya.” Global financial centers, such as Singapore , Hong Kong, Geneva, Zurich and London, have made changes in their regulations to accommodate Islamic finance industry that is now worth about $1 trillion.
RBI has requested the government to consider the Turkish bank’s application within 45 days. Launched in 1996, Bank Asya aims to develop interest-free banking products, according to its charter. It has 179 branches in Turkey. The current statutory and regulatory framework in India does not allow banks to undertake Islamic banking activities. But the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms, constituted by the Planning Commission, had in a report in 2008 recommended delivery of interest-free finance on a larger scale, including through the banking system. Last year during a visit to Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that he would ask RBI to look into the demand for establishing Islamic banking in India.

source : the economic times

Sharia debt funds post biggest gains

Karachi: Pakistan’s biggest Sharia- compliant debt funds are posting the best returns for sukuk investors this quarter as an export revival boosts bonds sold by the government and agricultural companies.

The JS Islamic Pension Savings Fund-Debt, owned by JS Investments, and the NAFA Islamic Aggressive Income Fund, managed by NBP Fullerton Asset Management, recorded gains of 3.9 per cent and 3.2 per cent, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The Meezan Capital Protected Fund-I run by Kuwait’s Noor Financial Investment returned 3 per cent, ranked third among 76 such vehicles tracked by Bloomberg. The three Karachi-based funds oversee 57 billion rupees (Dh2.4 billion) of assets. Pakistan’s government forecasts economic growth will more than double to 2.5 per cent in the 12 months ending June 30.

source : gulf news