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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Bank of Punjab (BoP) to launch Islamic Banking

Sunday, February 24, 2013 - Lahore—The Bank of Punjab is set to achieve another milestone when it launches Islamic banking in its operations. Apart from shoring up tangible support for the bank in the last four years, the Chief Minister also engendered an environment in the bank that ensured zero tolerance for corruption and eliminated government interference in the bank’s affairs. The Chief Minister Punjab has thus been principally responsible for restoring bank’s trust and goodwill amongst its customers.

In such an environment, backed by prudent financial management through a team of committed professionals the bank has grown from strength to strength during this time leading to , Growth in deposits from Rs.164billion to Rs.266 billion, Growth in branch 
network to 306 branches across Pakistan, Handling home remittances of Rs.176 billion (USD2billion), Lead arrangement for wheat procurement worth Rs.248 billion, New relationships numbering 545,598 in this period, Largest portfolio of Vehicle financing, now in excess of 20,000 vehicles and Apart from all-round growth in numbers, the bank has also invested in quality in its human resource in terms of both hiring and training. Also, branches have undergone major refurbishment, with renovations of older facilities and introduction of modern, new branches — all with a view to enhancing the end-to-end experience of its customers with the bank.

Today, BoP, as an institution, is large in size, modern in outlook, vibrant in character, prudent internally and customer-centric externally, but most importantly, remains rooted in the core values of integrity beyond reproach and professionalism without compromise. Having successfully accomplished the turnaround in the bank after four years of unrelenting commitment to achieve it, the bank is now poised to take further new initiatives. One such significant initiative is adding a new
 business stream by entering the Islamic banking sector.

In response to its request, the 
State Bank of Pakistan has granted approval to adopt the institutional

model of providing Islamic banking products and services through standalone Islamic branches. This business is to be managed by a separate Islamic Banking Division (IBD) in BoP. State Bank of Pakistan has already granted 
approval for conversion of five branches into Islamic branches by June 30, 2013 and the Bank intends to expand its network of Islamic branches by another ten branches in the remainder of 2013.

BoP is earnestly looking forward to serve the growing demand of its existing as well as prospective customers who have a preference for Islamic banking. In doing so, its IBD will adopt the bestbusiness practices and make itself a robust business unit with a premium on abiding compliance of Shariah guidelines. The bank is confident it will catch up with its peers in the not too distant future and become the bank of choice for Shariah conscious customers.

Equally significantly, with BoPs outreach in rural areas coupled with its Agri set up, the bank’s IBD is also well placed to play a pioneering role in Shariah compliant financing for the under-served Agricultural sector—an objective being long pursued by the State Bank of Pakistan.

(Pakistan Observer / 24 Feb 2013)

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Maybank Singapore Islamic banking provides transport grant to madrasahs

Maybank Singapore Islamic Banking has committed S$36,000 (RM111,654) to subsidise the transport needs of underprivileged students from six madrasahs this year.
Since its inception in March 2012, the Maybank Get-to-School Transport Grant collaboration between Maybank Singapore and Central Singapore Community Development Council has disbursed a total of S$23,400 to 65 students from five secondary schools.
This year, the grant will also be extended to another 100 students from six madrasahs, with each student receiving S$360 in transport subsidy.
The schools are namely, Madrasah Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiah, Madrasah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiah, Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah, Madrasah Al-Maarif Al-Islamiah, Madrasah Wak Tanjong Al-Islamiah and Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah.
In his address at the grant presentation ceremony here Friday, Mohd Ismail Hussein, Head of Maybank Singapore Islamic Banking, said his bank found the programme initiated by Maybank Singapore last year useful and practical for needy students, and that was why Maybank Singapore Islamic Banking decided to join in the effort.
"Extending the transport grant to include madrasah students is a sign of our commitment to help Muslim families who are in financial need," he said.
(The Malay Mail / 23 Feb 2013)

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Malaysia at forefront of global Islamic finance

KUCHING: The robust growth seen in Malaysia’s Islamic banking sector has elevated it to the upper echelon of the global Islamic finance realm, according to Standard Chartered Saadiq Bhd (Saadiq) chief executive officer (CEO) Wasim Saifi.

“If you look at the progress of Islamic banking in Malaysia, Islamic banking here is much better positioned in every sense.

“Malaysia has been by far the world’s major sukuk market as consistently more than 60 per cent of sukuk issuances (and in some years even higher than that) happen in Malaysia so it has become a very important capital market from the Islamic side, probably the most important one.

“The good thing about the Islamic capital market here is that not only do you have Malaysian corporates and government linked companies (GLCs) going for sukuk issuances, you also have international companies from the Middle East and Far East coming in to tap the Malaysian ringgit market for sukuk issuance,” he said.

Wasim, who is also Standard Chartered Bank’s global head of Islamic consumer banking, pointed out Malaysia’s rare position as one of the only countries with various types of Islamic banking players operating in the country.

“You’ve got the strong domestic local Islamic banks (such as Bank Islam and Bank Muamalat) and local conventional banks with Islamic subsidiaries which are very large and robust (such as Maybank and CIMB Islamic).

“Then you’ve got the international banks (such as Saadiq) that are present in this country and the Middle Eastern Islamic banks and the regional Islamic banks operating in this country.

“So, Islamic banking here has five different levels of players. When I look around the world, there aren’t too many places which have so many different types of Islamic players operating in this industry,” he stated.

Wasim was speaking at a press conference yesterday following the official opening of Saadiq’s first branch in Sarawak, located at tHe Spring Mall.

The CEO also opined that Malaysia enjoyed a very strong Islamic liquidity pool and with government’s focus remaining so strongly on developing the Islamic banking market, that liquidity pool was increasing day by day and becoming a very attractive market for people to come in.

When asked about areas in the Islamic finance realm that could receive special attention or focus, he said there were always opportunities for growth and improvement and Saadiq recognised that from its perspective.

“Malaysia has become such an important Islamic market for us. As you know, last year we moved our global consumer Islamic team from Singapore to West Malaysia.

“The idea is to focus on seeing we can further develop the market. There is still room for further growth. I think from the product proposition side, the market needs to see further enhancement happen.

“If you look at conventional versus Islamic banking, there are still some gaps, especially when you look at areas like wealth management. So those are areas that we’ll further develop.

He noted that there was still a lot that needed to happen on the education side of customers. There were people who knew of Islamic banking but they did not know how the Islamic products were actually structured and how they worked and therefore how they were complying with requirements.

“Malaysia has done better than other countries but there is still room for growth in term of people understanding how Islamic banking truly works. The third area, which is very important, is continuing further to focus on the talent pool available because Islamic banking is growing so rapidly.

“We’re looking at 23 to 24 per cent of total banking assets in the country and the government’s aspiration to take that to 40 per cent.

“This growth requires qualified people with Islamic academic training and Islamic work experience to be able to focus on and fuel that growth.

“That is an area where we need a lot more focus from an infrastructure perspective to provide Islamic training and academic preparation so that the whole growth of the Islamic banking industry can be managed,” he added.

(Borneo Post Online / 22 Feb 2013)

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Qatar has potential to become major Islamic finance platform, says QIIB CEO

Qatar can become a major global platform for Islamic finance in view of its resources, expertise in Shariah-compliant products and services, and world class regulatory framework, said International Islamic (QIIB) chief executive officer, Abdulbasit A al-Shaibei.

Qatar, he said, is significantly active in the major global Islamic centres such as Malaysia. Also, Islamic finance has growing demand in Qatar and the region.

“We have the resources, expertise, empowered regulators and adequate manpower (human resources) in our country. We can easily build a much stronger platform for Islamic finance in Qatar that can cater to, not just the region, but the whole world,” al-Shaibei said in an interview with Gulf Times.

He stressed that Qatar was one of the first countries in the world to identify the significance of Islamic banking. Qatar is now home to major and reputable Islamic banks such as QIB, QIIB and Masraf Al Rayan.

“We have had the first Islamic bank in our country in the 80s through QIB. Qatar International Islamic Bank was established in the 90s. Masraf Al Rayan was established a few years ago.

“On the conventional side, the largest bank in the entire Middle East by assets is Qatar’s QNB,” al-Shaibei pointed out.

Qatar is one of the first countries that identified the potential and importance of Islamic debt markets. In 2003, $700mn was raised for the sovereign through a seven-year sukuk, which was joint-lead managed by HSBC and QIIB.

“Our banking industry, Shariah-based in particular, has grown phenomenally over the last few years. We now have many Qataris with proper competence, knowledge and expertise in Islamic banking. In our banking industry, we have significantly gained because of them,” he said.

On Dubai’s recent initiative to build a global centre for Islamic economy, al-Shaibei said: “I strongly believe we have the potential to do it on a global scale here. If we can play an active role in leading Islamic financial centres such as Malaysia, why can’t we do it here?”

He said the credibility of Qatar’s Islamic banks is indisputable.

“In Shariah-based banking, we have proper risk management in place.  Also, our banking principles are highly value-based and customer-centric. In Qatar, we have a well developed banking regulatory framework, which are of truly global standards. Our regulators are all very competent. We also are blessed with a pool of Shariah scholars who advise us on Islamic financial principles,” al-Shaibei said.

“Whenever our Islamic banks do cross border transactions or issue sukuks around the world, they are well received. A case in point is our own sukuk.”

QIIB’s $700mn five-year sukuk last year was very successful in the international market with subscription exceeding $5bn or seven-fold oversubscription.

“QIIB was very pleased with the success of the transaction, which highlighted the confidence placed by investors in the bank’s credit story and its strategy,” al-Shaibei said.

Islamic economic principles play a growing significance in today’s global business environment, with Islamic economy size reaching $2.3tn and a growing community of 1.6bn Muslims around the world.

Recently, Ernst & Young’s World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2013 said global Islamic banking assets are expected to reach $1.8tn by 2013, up from the $1.3tn of assets held in 2011.

(Gulf Times / 24 Feb 2013)

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