A Detailed Look at the Fast-Growing Islamic Banking and Finance Sector

Press release
September 26, 2012
Hoboken, NJ
A Detailed Look at the Fast-Growing Islamic Banking and Finance Sector

The severity of the global financial crisis that followed the years 2008 and 2009 has been described as second only to the Great Depression. Yet, during those two years, the assets of the 500 top Islamic financial institutions grew — from $639 billion to $820 billion.

What sets apart the Islamic finance industry from the rest of the financial world? And how have its differences helped this sector thrive when the rest of the global financial market struggles to regain its balance?

Faleel Jamaldeen, author of Islamic Finance For Dummies, says: “I’m bullish on Islamic finance: I’m a firm believer in the market potential of this industry. I’m also a firm believer in the benefits of Westerners understanding the concepts that lie behind the Islamic financial products — knowing why a separate industry exists and why many conventional products don’t work for Muslims.”

“In the West, the general public and even many financial professionals know absolutely nothing about Islamic finance. Those who’ve at least heard of it may assume that they can’t understand or participate in it because they aren’t Muslim and don’t speak Arabic.) Western women may assume that they aren’t allowed to participate in the Islamic finance industry because of misconceptions about Islamic law. (Women can and do fully participate in Islamic finance — as professionals and as investors.)”

“Islamophobia is a prejudice against Islam or Muslims that has unfortunately become more commonplace and more intense in the West since the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Some people simply don’t want anything to do with an industry that’s affiliated with Islam. Until now, searching for a book to help you navigate the subject of Islamic finance wasn’t very rewarding. That’s because Islamic finance has been the topic of textbooks but not many nonacademic titles.”

Jamaldeen goes on to say, “I wrote this book to bridge the gap between people who need and want to know about Islamic finance and an industry that needs and wants their participation. You’ll find that you don’t need to learn a new language, change your personal religious views, and that job prospects are strong for both men and women with conventional banking and finance skills who are open to learning about new products and a new way of conducting business.”

“I wrote this book assuming that you have a strong interest in the financial industry already. Maybe you’re a banker, a mutual fund manager, an investment consultant, or an insurance agent. Perhaps you have Muslim clients asking you to consider adding sharia-compliant products to your roster of offerings, or your boss mentioned in passing that Islamic finance has been growing like crazy and your company should find out how to tap into the market. Maybe you’re a college student focusing your studies in finance, and you’ve read that job prospects are good for people with specific knowledge about Islamic finance.”

Whatever the scenario, you’ll find clear and easy-to-understand information on how the Islamic finance industry works.

source : wiley.com

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Muamalat plans Islamic finance in China

Bank Muamalat Malaysia will offer Islamic financing in China through booths as a step toward setting up the first full-fledged syariah-compliant lender in the world’s fastest-growing economy.
Malaysia’s second-oldest syariah bank plans to start offering loans and deposits by December at branches of local partner Bank of Shizuishan in the north-western region of Ningxia once it gets approval from regulators, Kuala Lumpur- based chief executive officer Mohd Redza Shah Abdul Wahid said in an Aug 28 interview.

read more :

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/malaysia/muamalat-plans-islamic-finance-china-20120905

source : business times

Bank targets Japan in Asian push

The Malaysian unit of Kuwait Finance House (KFH) is having “strategic alliance” negotiations in Japan, a newspaper said yesterday.

“The Malaysian bank is negotiating with institutions in Japan regarding a strategic alliance to finalise Islamic banking deals in Hong Kong, Thailand, India and Indonesia,” Kuwaiti daily Al Anbaa said.

It said that KFH Malaysia is interested in China, particularly after making profits from investing $275 million in a real estate project last year.

Kuwait Finance Malaysia was the first foreign Islamic bank to win a licence under the Southeast Asian country’s Islamic Banking Act.

It is the Kuwaiti bank’s Asia-Pacific hub and aims to promote business between the region and the Middle East.

source : gulf daily news

Sukuk bill may be revived despite pastors’ opposition

Korean lawmakers may revive legislation scuttled earlier this year amid opposition from church leaders that would pave the way for the first Islamic bond sales in the country.

A group of legislators will review the proposal as early as November regulating taxes on sukuk, or bonds that comply with Shariah law, said Choi Sung Soo, assistant director of the office of the committee’s Chairman Kang Ghil Boo. Lee Man Sub, head pastor at the Korean Association of Church Communication, was among Christian leaders seeking to stop the plan on concern Islamic charities would funnel contributions to terrorist activities from zakat, a tax paid by Muslims with wealth to be distributed to the poor and needy.

Sukuk sales in the nation could reach $1 billion a year as companies including GS Engineering & Construction Corp. try to raise financing that complies with Islam’s ban on interest to build power plants and skyscrapers in the Middle East, according to Korea Investment & Securities Co. The United Nations has a list of hundreds of organizations and individuals it suspects of supporting terrorism in a bid to control funding.

“Several church pastors have approached me, worried that Korean money would go to terrorists,” Yoo Il Ho, a committee member who belongs to the governing Grand National Party, said in an interview in Seoul. “But I told them that these bonds have nothing to do with that.”

There are about 35,000 Muslim residents in Korea and more than 100,000 Muslim foreign workers, said Cho Min-Haeng, director of administration at the Korean Muslim Federation in Seoul. The country has a population of about 49 million.

Protestants and Roman Catholics together make up the largest religious group in Korea, comprising 18.3 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively, according to a 2005 population census from the statistics office. About 23 percent are Buddhist and the rest are mostly non-religious, the census said.

Approving the tax “will be like pouring gasoline over a burning fire,” said Lee, whose organization represents the nation’s Christian groups in the media in Seoul. “That money can be used for terrorism, or money-laundering in our banks. It’s unfair to give them a tax advantage and with all that money pouring in, they could take control over our economy.”

He also cited concern proceeds would fund Islamic schools and infrastructure at home, which will mean “more Koreans may become Muslim.”

Korea Investment, a Seoul-based brokerage that said in February it hired Shariah scholar Mohammed Daud Bakar to help structure Islamic financial products, has put plans on hold because the legislation has yet to be approved. Mohammed Daud declined to comment in an e-mailed response to questions.

Concern that sukuk will fund terrorist activities is a “certain kind of phobia” and is difficult to substantiate, said Lee Yul Hee, head of the Islamic finance team at Korea Investment in Seoul.

Closer ties with the Middle East would help narrow Korea’s only regional trade deficit, he said. The Gulf Cooperation Council states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pumped 68 percent of Korea’s oil and 53 percent of its natural gas last year, causing a $38 billion deficit, according to the Korea International Trade Association.

Korea Electric Power Corp., the nation’s biggest supplier, won a $20 billion contract to build nuclear power plants in the U.A.E. in December. Samsung Engineering Co., its biggest engineering company, won a $1.5 billion contract in April to build utility and offsite facilities for a gas project in Abu Dhabi. Samsung C&T Corp., the second-biggest contractor, built the world’s largest tower in Dubai. All the companies are based in Seoul.

Woori Investment & Securities Co., a unit of Korea’s third-largest financial company, signed an agreement in March with Qatar Islamic Bank SAQ, the Gulf state’s biggest Shariah- compliant lender, to cooperate in investment banking services, the Asian company said in an e-mail on March 10.

Mohamed Azahari Kamil, head of Asian Finance Bank Bhd., the Malaysian unit of Qatar Islamic, said the issue of terrorism was never discussed.

“There’s not enough evidence to prove that” charities are being used to fund terrorism, Mohamed Azahari said in an interview from Kuala Lumpur. “The accusation is baseless.”

Islamic bonds, which are based on the exchange of asset flows rather than interest, returned 3.7 percent this quarter, beating a 0.8 percent gain in the three months ended June 30, according to the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai US Dollar Sukuk Index. Debt in developing markets gained 7 percent this quarter, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global Diversified Index shows.

The spread between the average yield for sukuk and the London interbank offered rate narrowed eight basis points, or 0.8 percentage point, so far in August to 393, according to the HSBC/NASDAQ index.

Global sales of sukuk fell 14 percent to $10 billion so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Issuance totaled $20.2 billion last year, up 43 percent from 2008. Debt offerings will increase in the second half, led by first-time issuers, because of improved international market conditions, Standard & Poor’s said in a statement on July 28.

The yield on Malaysia’s 3.928 percent dollar-denominated Islamic note due June 2015 fell 25 basis points this month to 2.67 percent, according to prices from the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance is pushing ahead with plans to sell Islamic bonds to diversify financing, said Sohn Byung Doo, director at the international financial policy division in Seoul. The global credit crisis in 2008 caused international funds to leave the country, he said.

“Sukuk will allow Korea to diversify funding sources, especially since capital flight during a crisis may dry up money pools,” he said. 

source : korea herald

Affin, HK partner plan first Islamic bank in China

AFFIN Holdings Bhd and its foreign partner, Hong Kong’s The Bank of East Asia Ltd, have submitted a proposal to the China Banking Regulation Authority (CBRA) to open China’s first Islamic bank.

“CBRA is currently still studying the regulation and practices of Islamic finance. We hope to be the first Islamic bank in China once the authority has come up with the regulations,” said BEA chairman and chief executive officer Dr David K.P Li in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The partnership will allow Affin Bank to make use of over 240 BEA branches worldwide covering Hong Kong, China, North America, the UK and Southeast Asia. BEA is also the single biggest foreign shareholder of Affin with a 23.5 per cent stake.

“We are confident that this strategic alliance will place both banks in a better position in many Asian markets and enable us to tap an even wider business opportunities,” Affin Holdings chairman Tan Sri Mohd Zahidi Zainuddin said.
Early this month, Affin Bank bought Indonesia bank PT Bank Ina Perdana for RM138 million, its first venture outside of Malaysia. It may also offer Islamic finance services in the country which has a population of more than 200 million people.

Affin Bank owns an Islamic banking subsidiary, Affin Islamic Bank, which started operations in April 2006.

source : btimes

Japanese institutions go for Islamic financing

After a hiatus of over three years largely due to inertia from regulators and head offices, Japanese institutions are finally going to the market to raise millions of dollars in Islamic financing. The good news is for Malaysia because much of this activity is centered in or out of Kuala Lumpur.

Over the last two weeks Nomura Holdings, Inc. appointed Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) as the mandated lead arranger for its debut $100 million Sukuk Al-Ijara. The two-year issuance will be the first US dollar denominated issue by a Japanese corporation out of Malaysia.

Similarly Sumitomo Corporation, according to Malaysian banking sources, plans to go one step further by issuing the first yen-denominated Shariah-compliant paper in Japan. The paper will not be a classical Sukuk because Japanese regulations and tax laws do not facilitate the issuance of Sukuk currently, but may mirror an asset-backed Islamic bond type structure.

These developments follow the successful closure of Nomura’s $70 million syndicated commodity murabaha facility, which was lead, arranged by ABC Islamic Bank, the Islamic finance subsidiary of Arab Banking Corporation. Due to increased demand for both short-term investments and for investment grade Japanese risk, the issuance was increased from the original target of $50 million.

The Nomura issuance however is bound to set the pace for increased Japanese involvement in the Islamic finance industry. Not that Japanese institutions have been absent from the sector. Several Japanese sogo soshos have in the past accessed the odd commodity Murabaha structured primarily through London banks. Nomura itself was the fund manager for Al-Tawfeek Investment Company’s Islamic Japanese Equity Fund. Daiwa Securities two years ago launched an Islamic ETF (exchange-traded fund) which is listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange and which tracks the FTSE Asia Shariah 100 Index. In the Takaful sector, Tokyo Marine & Fire Insurance Company has a thriving joint venture in Malaysia with Hong Leong Islamic Bank and has a regional company in Dubai serving the GCC markets.

Japanese government agencies such as the Institute of Developing Economies have for the last two decades been studying Islamic finance and collating research on the industry. More recently the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) organized the first Islamic banking seminars in Tokyo. Since then several have been held in Japan.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) seriously raised expectations in 2007 when it announced that it plans to issue a debut Sukuk in Malaysian ringgit to fund its activities in Malaysia and the ASEAN region. JBIC appointed lead arrangers CIMB and Citigroup with the hope of attracting investors from both Asia and the GCC markets. Unfortunately, the proposed issuance was dragged out due to differences between the two lead arrangers over the appropriate Sukuk structure. Then the credit crunch and financial crisis set in which put paid to any JIBIC issuance.

However, privately, JBIC managers keen on tapping the Islamic finance market have been frustrated by the lack of Japanese government involvement and facilitation of Islamic finance in Japan and the lack of enthusiasm shown by the powers that be at JBIC itself. Because of Japan’s complex system of government, it seems that only the ruling prime minister can initiate changes in primary legislation to facilitate say the introduction of Sukuk and other Islamic finance products.

In the meantime, the Japanese Ministry of Finance in cooperation with the Bank of Japan, the central bank, did amend last year some of the provisions relating to the foreign subsidiaries of Japanese financial institutions, which are now allowed to conduct certain activities in the Islamic finance sector including the issuance of Sukuk in local currencies and the launching of investment funds.

With the global sukuk market now getting a second wind in the wake of the financial crisis and with Asia leading the way, does it mean that JBIC will also change its strategy, especially after the Nomura sukuk issuance and the planned one by Sumitomo?

Takumi Shibata, deputy president and chief operating officer of Nomura Holdings, could not be more to the point, stressing that “with this landmark transaction, Nomura has further diversified its funding sources and tapped the large and growing Islamic finance market for the first time. This issuance is part of Nomura’s ongoing push to diversify its funding sources to drive growth. Islamic investors and Islamic finance are a very important and rapidly growing sector globally and this transaction is highly significant for Nomura and for corporate Japan.”

The book for the issuance was opened on July 5 and closed the next day, according to Jamelah Jamaluddin, CEO, KFH (Malaysia). But Jamaluddin, a controversial doyen of the Malaysian Islamic finance sector and the first woman to head an Islamic bank in the world, RHB Islamic Bank, also threw down the gauntlet to other potential Japanese issuers: “I am pleased to inform you that this sukuk marks Nomura’s first step in diversifying its funding sources to include Islamic financial solutions. It involves financing the purchase of two aircrafts. I hope that Nomura’s sukuk will pave the way for more discerning Japanese clients, as well as other international corporations, to consider migrating or co-opting Islamic finance products in meeting their investment and financing requirements.”

The Nomura Sukuk is also listed on Bursa Malaysia, just becoming the second foreign listing on the bourse and the first sukuk listing by an Asian and a Japanese international entity. At the listing signing ceremony, Yusli Mohamed Yusoff, chief executive officer of Bursa Malaysia, explained that “Malaysia remains the world’s single most active corporate Sukuk market at present. We certainly have made great strides in the sukuk market and the listing of Nomura’s sukuk is a further demonstration of foreign players’ confidence toward Islamic securities and instruments issued out of Malaysia. The sukuk listing from Nomura will further strengthen Bursa Malaysia as a preferred Sukuk listing destination, elevating the overall position of Malaysia as an international Islamic financial hub.”

With this listing, Bursa Malaysia’s total Sukuk listings amount to $20.9 billion comprising 15 sukuk listed by 13 issuers, of which two are international issuers.

Nomura is of course elated by the investor demand to its two forays into the Islamic market this month — the sukuk and the Murabaha facility. According to Takuya Furuya, chairman of Nomura Middle East and Africa, “It reflects the strength of the Nomura brand and its reputation in the region. The issuance is part of Nomura’s strategy to diversify funding both geographically and by product and comes at a time when we have simultaneously launched a Sukuk in Malaysia. This Murabaha facility marks the first Islamic funding exercise by a Japanese corporate in the region and we hope that it will strengthen the financial ties between the Far East and the Middle East.”

The Murabaha facility has a three-year tenor and offers a profit margin of 175 basis points per annum. The facility will be used for general liquidity management purposes. Participants in the syndication included ABC Islamic Bank, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Samba Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe Limited and Ahli United Bank.

source : arabnews

Sumitomo in Japan’s first Islamic funding deal

SUMITOMO Corp is arranging the first Islamic funding deal in Japan, which could pave the way for other Japanese issuers to tap the US$1 trillion (RM3.20 trillion) industry, a source with knowledge of the deal said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The yen-denominated issue, which would be the first by a Japanese issuer in the country, mirrors the structure of Islamic bonds but is not strictly sukuk as Japan’s banking regulations do not provide for such an offering.

The issue would follow a recent US$100 million (RM320 million) Islamic bond sale by Japan’s top brokerage Nomura Holdings in Malaysia, and reflects growing interest by the Asian economy in syariah-compliant financing.

“Just like Nomura, Sumitomo is keen on exploring Islamic finance,” said the source who asked not to be identified as the deal has not been announced.

 

“Once they start to see that this can be done, probably they will start to do it for other similar transactions.”

Sumitomo was not immediately available for comment.

The deal is expected to be signed in the third quarter and the issuance amount has yet to be finalised.

The issue would be underpinned by a series of sale and purchase transactions to meet the syariah’s requirement that financing deals have to involve specific assets.

Japan has been keen to develop its Islamic finance market, and state-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation said in 2007 that it wanted to sell sukuk although that plan has yet to materialise.

“There is a need to educate the Japanese investors on what the sukuk structure represents and the various sukuk structures that are out there,” said Lum Choong Kuan, head of fixed income at Malaysia’s CIMB Investment Bank.

“The Japanese are ready to embrace it but we need to have the central bank provide the incentives tax-wise and the infrastructure to accelerate the reception of Islamic products,” he added

source : btimes