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Bursa Malaysia and KRX: Support of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre’s Initiative aims to boost Growth of Islamic Finance Market- Event 19.11.2009

The Korea Exchange (KRX) and Bursa Malaysia will be playing host to the Korean investment bankers, advisers, issuers and institutional investors at its inaugural KRX-Bursa Malaysia Islamic Capital Market Conference, which will be held on 19 November 2009 in Seoul, Korea. This conference which is co-organised in support of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) initiative, aims to share Malaysia’s Islamic finance experience and to promote the opportunities in the Malaysian Islamic capital market landscape. This collaborative effort hopes to strengthen the growth opportunities of Islamic finance amongst the discerning Korean investors and issuers.

This conference is timely as there is a strong interest for Korea to grow the Islamic finance industry, following from the proposed liberalisation measures by the Korean government which are aimed to allow the issuance of Islamic bonds or sukuk as well as allow incomes from sukuk to be tax-exempted. These proposed laws are expected to be passed by the Korean government’s National Assembly later this year.

In conjunction with the KRX-Bursa Malaysia Islamic Capital Market Conference, delegates of the MIFC initiative, which comprises senior management of Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia), Securities Commission Malaysia and Bursa Malaysia, will be participating in the conference. Malaysia acknowledges Korea as a potential Islamic financial market and welcomes Korea’s participation in shaping the Islamic finance landscape together, via leveraging on Malaysia’s more than 30 years of experience in developing the world’s most comprehensive Islamic financial system.

Chief Executive Officer of Bursa Malaysia Berhad, Dato’ Yusli Mohamed Yusoff said, “We hope this conference will stimulate interest in the Shari’ah compliant products which are currently in demand from investors who are seeking returns from alternative and ethical investments. In addition, this visit by the delegates from the MIFC will pave the way for more opportunities to exchange ideas in Islamic finance and forge greater working relations between Korea and Malaysia for the interest of growing this important industry. We are confident that the Malaysian and Korean authorities as well as KRX and Bursa Malaysia would be able to leverage on our respective strengths in the establishment of an Islamic capital market in Korea.”

This KRX-Bursa Malaysia Islamic Capital Market Conference is expected to attract 200 participants and will provide a platform for all attendees to gain an insight into the outlook and trends of Islamic capital markets. Key discussion topics will centre around the liberalisation of Islamic financial markets, investment and business opportunities in Islamic capital market, the Islamic finance landscape and framework as well as the growth of Islamic finance products in Asia and globally.

Source: MondoVisione, 16.11.2009

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Filed under: Asia, Events, Exchanges, Islamic Finance, Korea, Malaysia, News, Services, , , , , , , , , , ,

Malaysian Shari’ah-compliant commodity trading platform goes live

Malaysia’s position as a leading Islamic financial hub was further solidified today with the successful commencement of trade on the world’s first, end-to-end Shari’ah-compliant commodity trading platform.

This fully-electronic platform, called Bursa Suq Al-Sila’, is an international commodity platform that is able to facilitate commodity-based Islamic financing and investment transactions under the Shari’ah principles of Murabahah, Tawarruq and Musawwamah. The launch commodity is Malaysia’s star product, crude palm oil (CPO).

Formerly known as Commodity Murabahah House, Bursa Suq Al-Sila’, which means commodities market in Arabic, is an initiative spearheaded by the Malaysia International Islamic Finance Center (MIFC). The trading platform is operated by Bursa Malaysia via its fully Shari’ah-compliant wholly-owned subsidiary, Bursa Malaysia Islamic Services Sdn. Bhd.

YB Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, the Malaysian Finance Minister II, was on hand to unveil the Bursa Suq Al-Sila’ brand and witness its inaugural trading day. Also present at the ceremony were YB Dato’ Hamzah Zainudin, Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, YBhg Datuk Ranjit Ajit Singh, Managing Director of the Securities Commission as well as senior officials of Bank Negara, the Securities Commission and Bursa Malaysia.

Dato’ Yusli Mohamed Yusoff, Chief Executive Officer of Bursa Malaysia, said, “It was indeed a good start for Bursa Suq Al-Sila’. This innovative platform would not have become a reality if not for the support and participation of industry players across the board.”

Dato’ Yusli added, “Bursa Suq Al-Sila’ is indeed one-of-its-kind as it is the world’s first Shari’ah-compliant commodity trading platform specifically designed to facilitate Islamic finance. It is expected to also enhance liquidity management for Islamic Financial Institutions. Commodity suppliers such as Crude Palm Oil suppliers are also provided with an additional revenue source.”

According to Dato’ Yusli, Bursa Suq Al-Sila’ complements the money and capital markets as a whole. This trading platform is poised to strengthen Bursa Malaysia’s edge in the global Islamic market place.

The trading in Bursa Suq Al-Sila’ today follows the recent signing of Memorandum of Participation between Bursa Malaysia and over 26 commodity suppliers, financial institutions and trading participants three weeks ago.

The essence of Bursa Suq Al-Sila’, which embraces the commodity Murabahah concept, involves one party buying commodity at a certain cost and selling it to a customer at a cost-plus-profit basis. The customer will then pay the amount and the profit to the party on a deferred-payment basis. The customer then sells back the commodity to the commodity market on spot for cash. The trade involves the sale and purchase of real physical assets.

In the initial stage, crude palm oil will be used as the launch commodity. Eventually, this will expand to other Shari’ah approved commodities covering both soft and hard commodities. Similarly, initial trades in Bursa Suq Al-Sila’ will be conducted in Ringgit Malaysia-denominated. As Bursa Suq Al-Sila’ is multi-currency capable, non-RM trades will be introduced in the foreseeable future to provide for international market players. This in turn will provide more choices, access and flexibility for international financial institutions to participate in this market.

Dato’ Yusli concluded, “With Bursa Suq Al-Sila’, we are now diversifying our offerings and extending our traditional businesses with a Shari’ah platform focused on money markets. As an exchange, Bursa Malaysia is committed to support, manage and even drive initiatives that can augment the growth of the Malaysian Islamic market.”

Source: Bursa Malaysia, 17.08.2009

Filed under: Asia, Exchanges, Islamic Finance, Malaysia, News, Services, , , , , , , , , ,

Bursa Malaysia Inks Commodity Murabahah Agreement With Industry Players Under MIFC Initiative – Multi-Commodity, Multi-Currency Trading Platform To Facilitate Shariah-Based Financing And Liquidity Management

Bursa Malaysia and over 26 palm oil commodity suppliers, financial institutions and trading participants, today signed a Memorandum of Participation to collaborate in the Shariah commodity trading platform, Commodity Murabahah House (CMH), which is aimed at facilitating liquidity management and the financing of Islamic financial and investment instruments.

Commodity Murabahah House (CMH), a Malaysia Islamic International Finance Centre (MIFC) initiative operated by Bursa Malaysia’s fully Shariah compliant wholly-owned subsidiary, Bursa Malaysia Islamic Services Sdn Bhd, is an international spot commodity platform which facilitates commodity-based Islamic financing and investment transactions under the Shari’ah principles of Murabahah, Tawarruq and Musawwamah. Initial trades will use crude palm oil to be followed by other Shari’ah approved commodities covering both soft and hard commodities. At present, trades will be Ringgit-denominated whilst efforts are being undertaken to make it multi currency capable, providing more choice, access and flexibility for international financial institutions to participate in this market.  This trading platform, which is fully electronic, is the world’s first end-to-end Shari’ah-compliant commodity trading platform designed with the main purpose of serving the Islamic financial markets.

Dato’ Yusli Mohamed Yusoff, Chief Executive Officer of Bursa Malaysia said, “We are the first in the world to innovate a Commodity Trading Platform infrastructure using crude palm oil as the underlying commodity.  We expect the innovation of this web-based and fully automated platform to change the way most Islamic financial institutions transact commodity murabahah going forward.

This infrastructure is set to complement our capital and money market offerings. The players, which range from financial institutions, CPO producers to trading participants, will benefit from additional revenue stream, stemming from the low liquidity risk element that is apparent in the financing structure of CMH.”

Dato’ Yusli added, “The implementation of CMH, planned for August this year, is in line with our efforts to further spur the development of the Islamic market in Malaysia. We are confident that this will give Bursa Malaysia the stature to bring forth its Islamic market’s offerings to the global front.”

Commodity Murabahah is widely used as a money market tool by Islamic banks in the GCC. The concept of Commodity Murabahah involves one party buying commodity at a certain cost and selling it to a customer at a cost-plus-profit basis. The customer will then pay the amount and the profit to the party on deferred-payment basis. The customer then sells back the commodity to the commodity market on spot for cash. The trade involves the sale and purchase of real physical assets.

Source: MondoVisione, 29.07.2009

Filed under: Asia, Exchanges, Islamic Finance, Malaysia, News, Services, , , , , , , , ,

Singapore’s Take on Islamic Finance

Singapore’s plunge into the Islamic finance scene did not come as a surprise to many in the industry. Seeing the Islamic finance industry take-off in Malaysia and with Hong Kong and Indonesia playing catch up, Singapore’s obvious move was to take on this ethical form of financing with formidable force. Despite being the first Asian country to fall into a recession, which prompted the government to declare the situation as the worst ever for it, the Lion City was still optimistic about launching its first Sukuk at a signing ceremony last month. Eureka – Islamic_Finance_News article

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Heng Swee Keat described the Sukuk as the Shariah-compliant equivalent of Singapore Government Securities (SGS) and said it was of the highest credit standing. He assured investors that it would be given equal regulatory treatment as SGS, such as qualifying as an asset in the computation of capital and liquidity requirements, and as eligible collateral for tapping MAS’ liquidity.

“MAS is committed to the facility, issuing to meet the needs of financial institutions that are carrying out or plan to carry out Shariah-compliant activities in Singapore, as this will strengthen their ability to meet their capital and liquidity requirements.” He added.

Research and consulting firm Cerulli Associates released a report recently on the Islamic finance industry in Singapore, focusing on the Islamic funds available in the republic. According to it, Hong Kong and Singapore have been financial services hub rivals in Asia and their competition has now extended to Islamic finance. The report states that the Islamic finance is not to cater for their relatively small Muslim populations, but rather to encompass all areas of financial services as well as attract the petro-dollars from the Middle East.

Describing Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s effort as wholesale as opposed to Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s “more retail approach”, Cerulli said the Singapore government had decided several years ago that as trade with its Middle East counterparts increased, there would be a need for an Islamic finance industry. Its Middle East trade doubled to US$37 billion in four years to the end of 2007.

“MAS has been proactive in trying to create a level playing field for the conventional and Islamic approaches – in 2005, for example, it remitted the additional stamp duties that Islamic financing arrangements on property were incurring, and allowed banks to offer Murabahah financing,” the report stated.

Cerulli added that income tax and goods and services tax (GST) treatments for Shariah-compliant financing arrangements and Sukuk were clarified and given a level playing field as conventional products. “Retail investors in Murabahah are now given the same regulatory protection under Singapore’s Bank Act as any conventional depositor. And a 5% concessionary tax rate was announced in February 2008 on income derived from qualifying Shariah-compliant financial activities, including lending, fund management, insurance and reinsurance.”

Cerulli noted that the significant step in Singapore’s Islamic finance push came with the formation of the Islamic Bank of Asia (IB Asia) in June 2007. Singapore’s largest bank, DBS, holds the majority share in the bank together with Middle East investors. IB Asia has since opened a representative office in Bahrain. It focuses on Shariah-compliant commercial banking, corporate finance, capital market and private banking services.

According to Cerulli, the Sukuk issuance working on reverse inquiry that would be issued based on the needs of the republic’s financial institutions could boost the development of Islamic finance. However it would not be the republic’s first issuance as there have been several other issuances such as the MBB Sukuk Inc established by Maybank that raised US$300 million two years ago.

Cerulli observed that Singapore has its own Shariah index, the FTSE SGX Asia Shariah 100 Index, which is designed to be used as a basis for exchange-traded funds and over-the-counter trading instruments although it maintained that none have yet been launched. “There are currently six managers with Shariah funds registered in Singapore who are collectively responsible for assets worth about US$470 million, although this figure was somewhat higher prior to the current financial crisis.”


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Shariah-compliant funds have also found a place in Singapore. Cerulli states that NTUC Income, a cooperative insurance society and a leader in life and general insurance with more than 1.8 million policyholders, currently offers the republic’s two largest Shariah funds.

The Amanah Bond Fund is managed by RHB Investment Management and CIMB-Principal Asset Management. It had US$157 million under management at the end of October last year. The other fund is NTUC’s Amanah Equity Fund, described by Cerulli as a global passive product, which is managed by State Street Global Advisers and has US$164 million under management. NTUC also offers a Takaful fund, jointly managed by NTUC Income and Wellington International Management with US$55 million under management.

Cerulli’s report also notes that other local players offering funds include UOB Asset Management, Singapore Unit Trusts (SUT) and Swiss-Asia Financial Services. UOB Asset Management offers the Afdaal Asia Pacific Equity Fund, for which CIMB-Principal Asset Management is the advisor. SUT, a member company of Malaysia’s Permodalan National Berhad (PNB) Group, has two Shariah-compliant funds: the Ethical Value Fund and Ethical Growth Funds, both being global equity products; while Swiss-Asia Financial Services launched its first Shariah fund, an absolute return Asian equity product named the Mashriq Fund, in July 2006.

According to Cerulli, the largest Shariah-compliant investment product sold in Singapore to-date was by a group called Pacific Star Investment and Development, which sold the now closed Baitak Asian Real Estate Fund at US$600 million. On offshore funds, Cerulli states that the available Shariah-compliant funds from the offshore managers are the DWS Noor range, including an Asia-Pacific equity fund, China equity fund, Global select equity fund, Japan equity fund and a precious metals securities product. “All are sold in Singapore (though they are domiciled in Ireland), as are CIMB Islamic’s Asia-Pacific equity fund and several HSBC products, domiciled locally under the HSBC-Link Ethical brand,” it added.

Source: Eurka Hedeg, Islamic Finance News, 22.04.2009

Filed under: Asia, Banking, Indonesia, Islamic Finance, News, Services, Singapore, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

BMB Group to partner with International Zakat Organization to establish and co-manage a Global Zakat & Charity Fund

International Zakat Organization (IZO) announced today its partnership with the prestigious BMB Group to establish and co-manage a multi-billion Global Zakat and Charity Fund. In his address at the signing ceremony, the Honourable Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department and Chairman of the Board of Directors of IZO, said, “The purpose of IZO is to uphold Zakat as a tool for economic development, social Takaful, the enhancement of solidarity and the promotion of cooperation between Muslim communities and countries around the world, especially for the sake of Ummah.

The Global Zakat and Charity Fund will offer us the required transparency in operations and financial expertise for the management of funds.” He further added that “Every Muslim should take into consideration the fact that the whole Muslim nation, both individuals and governments, has the responsibility to solve the collective crises of poverty, corruption and inequality suffered by millions of Muslims throughout the Islamic World. The only way to solve these crises is through the duty of Zakat. The implementation of Zakat will be in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah. We will see how a properly implemented system can solve the current economic problems of not just Muslims, but of the whole world.”

The proposed Fund will manage Zakat and other charitable funds to alleviate poverty in the member committees of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (“OIC”). “It is a long-awaited initiative,” said Dr Humayon Dar, CEO of BMB Islamic, a subsidiary of The BMB Group. “There has been inevitably a huge emphasis on Shari’a compliance in Islamic banking and finance, but the announcement of a Global Zakat and Charity Fund is the beginning of a new Islamic financial trend which favours social responsibility and community development.”

OIC has 57 member states of which some have already committed themselves to IZO and its various initiatives. In addition to co-managing the fund, The BMB Group will assist in involving the remaining governments in this special project. The expected size of the fund will be Two Billion Malaysian Ringgit in the current calendar year.  Mr. Mohammad Hassan Esa, Managing Director and CEO of IZO, who has played a pioneering role in establishing the IZO, was thrilled by the prospect of contributing to poverty alleviation among poor Muslim communities. He commented “Zakat is a tool that can single-handedly eradicate poverty not only from the Muslim world but from the entire world. The only condition is that we collect and manage the funds efficiently. The Global Zakat and Charity Fund is a step towards achieving that efficiency.”

The proposed fund will be co-managed by the IZO and The BMB Group, which benefits from Shari’a advisory and structuring capabilities of BMB Islamic. BMB Islamic was recently voted voted the Best Shari’a Advisory Firm for the year 2008 at the IFN Awards. The fund will invest in community development projects with an emphasis on sustainability. The three major areas to be targeted are: (1) income generation through the provision of affordable financing to small and medium enterprises; (2) development of social enterprise through the establishment of hospitals, educational institutions and housing associations; and (3) the provision of relief and emergency funding.

Rayo Salahadin Withanage, Chairman and CEO of The BMB Group commented, “The BMB Groups lead role in this initiative reinforces our heart found commitment to Islamic communities around the world. At this juncture in history where the world faces serious economic challenges, it is important for Muslims around the world to unite behind the common good of helping with the social, economic and environmental challenges that face our planet. We are delighted to be part of the IZO initiative.”

Source: BMB/UpStream Asia 24.02.2009

Filed under: Islamic Finance, News, , , , , , , , ,

Malaysia raises profile as an Islamic fund hub

Malaysia now has more sharia funds than Saudi Arabia, but is still second in terms of assets under management. Malaysia’s efforts to promote itself as a global Islamic investment hub are paying off.

The country has overtaken Saudi Arabia in terms of the number of locally domiciled sharia funds, and is second to the huge Middle East market in terms of sharia assets under management (AUM), based on data from financial services research firm Cerulli Associates.

As of November 2008, sharia funds domiciled and managed in Malaysia totalled 145, compared to just 131 in Saudi Arabia. These range from investments in money markets and sukuks (bonds) to regional and global equities.

Malaysia has, over the past few years, worked to establish itself as a centre for sharia fund manufacturing, in line with its efforts to promote itself as a global Islamic investment hub. Malaysia now possesses the most highly developed regulatory structure for Islamic finance in the world, according to Cerulli.

So far, Malaysia has attracted eight international sharia fund managers by offering a host of tax and other incentives.

However, in terms of sharia AUM, Saudi Arabia is still the clear winner worldwide. Sharia AUM in Malaysia has grown from $1.4 billion in 2003 to $4.6 billion in November 2008. That’s nevertheless just a fraction of Saudi Arabia’s $13.9 billion in sharia AUM. Malaysia’s sharia AUM is also small compared with the estimated $40 billion in AUM of conventional funds managed onshore.

“Malaysian-domiciled sharia funds are still unable to compete with Saudi funds in terms of asset size,” says Ken Yap, Singapore-based head of Asia-Pacific research at Cerulli.

To illustrate his point, Cerulli data shows that the AlAhli Saudi Riyal Trade Fund in Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest sharia portfolio, with $3.6 billion in assets. In contrast, Malaysia’s largest sharia portfolio — Public Ittikal Fund — has $421 million in assets.

“While the Malaysian sharia market has shown impressive growth, managers need to do more to build up assets in each of its sharia funds, rather than simply continuing to launch more funds,” says Shiv Taneja, London-based managing director at Cerulli. “This means marketing sharia funds to high-net-worth individuals and institutions, and working with the banks, including Islamic banks, to improve sharia fund distribution to the public.”

Saudi Arabia’s obvious advantage over Malaysia, Cerulli’s Yap notes, is the deep pockets of its institutional, high-net-worth and retail investors.

In Malaysia, the focus has been mostly on retail investors — understandably so because they are an easy target for the asset management arms of banks, for example. Asset management companies with a conventional funds business in Malaysia are also setting up sharia units and they are targeting existing clients.

“The sharia funds in Malaysia are focused more towards the retail client base, which needs more variety and, thus, fund managers need to launch more funds. In Saudi Arabia, the funds are focused more towards the wholesale client base,” says Trica Sum, a Singapore-based analyst at Cerulli.

Both Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are capable of attracting and managing offshore funds, but the Gulf state has done more to cultivate that market over the years.

Cerulli’s Yap believes that in the near-term the potential for sharia AUM growth in Malaysia still rests with the retail market. Over the long-run, however, he says there is strong potential for growth in the offshore market of sharia firms in Malaysia, the demand from institutional investors and pension funds in Malaysia, and in new businesses from new Islamic fund management company license holders.

Malaysia’s Securities Commission has awarded eight foreign Islamic fund management licenses to Aberdeen Islamic Asset Management, BNP Paribas Islamic Asset Management, Nomura Islamic Asset Management, Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia), DBS Asset Management, CIMB-Principal Asset Management, Global Investment House and Reliance Asset Management.

The Malaysia government allows 100% foreign ownership of Islamic fund management companies, in line with its bid to attract more key fund players to the country. The incentive is part of ongoing liberalisation measures in Malaysia’s capital market as well as being aimed at complementing the broader Malaysian International Islamic Finance Centre (MIFC) initiatives of positioning the country as a hub.

Islamic fund management companies are allowed to invest all their assets overseas and will be given income tax exemption on fees received until 2016. They will also be able to tap into M$7 billion ($2.1 billion) in seed money from the Employees Provident Fund, the national pension fund for the private sector in Malaysia. Tax incentives are also being offered to existing stockbrokers that set up Islamic subsidiaries.

Cerulli estimates that global sharia fund assets totalled around $35 billion in October 2008 and had been growing at 23% over the past five years, well ahead of conventional mutual funds. Although this rate is expected to ease during the course of the global financial crisis, the firm believes Islamic finance has only started to take root in many Muslim nations and has plenty of room for expansion.

Source:AsianInvestor, 19.02.2009

Filed under: Islamic Finance, Malaysia, News, Services, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,