The KFH/Ahli United merger is moving forward; Fitch downgraded Saudi Arabia; Lebanese central bank Governor Riad Salame sought to reassure depositors that they would be able to withdraw dollars from banks, and the UAE dropped its ban on citizens travelling to Lebanon.
Fitch downgraded the Republic of Lebanon to CCC on 23 August, the same day that S&P affirmed its B- rating and negative outlook. The ABA's Editor, Andrew Cunningham, considers the different views on Lebanon's financial health. The views are his own, not necessarily those of the ABA.
A change in Jersey's tax legislation has clarified that commodity murabaha contracts that are used to strcuture Shari'ah-compliant transactions will not be subject to Jersey tax.
This is an important report, and one of its findings is that those who use Islamic finance say that they have a good experience.
Emirates NBD and the International Islamic Financial Market have just published research reports on the sukuk market, with useful statistics.
Yasser Ibrahim has left NBE (UK) to become a Managing Director at ODDO BHF. He has been replaced by Yasser Hassan.
Credit Suisse license follows Standard Chartered licensing in February.
The World Gold Council has published an interesting research note on gold and Islamic finance, including a survey of investor attitudes to different types of gold products.
Fitch upgraded its rating on the Government of Egypt by one notch to B+ on 21 March, one notch higher than S&P and two higher than Moody's.
Some of the largest GCC banks have already published their financial statements for 2018 and they are showing strong results including high capital ratios.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union National Bank and Al-Hilal Bank, all controlled by Abu Dhabi government agencies, will merge. Though driven by Abu Dhabi-specific factors, it forms part of a wider trend in the GCC
The IMF has disbursed another $2bn to Egypt, following a successful review of Egypt's progress under the Extended Fund Facility agreed in 2016. The Facility will end in November this year, hopefully with the disbursement of the final $2bn, to make a total of $12bn disbursed under the programme.
Kamco, the Kuwait-based investment manager and research house, has published some excellent reports on the performance of GCC capital markets during 2108. Our Editor has summarised the key point with some tables, and provides links to the original reports for those who would like more details.
Our editor analyses the two banks and has compiled a table of figures that compares their size, profitability and other features.
APICORP, the Dammam-based energy investment bank, is predicting oil prices of around $60-70/b during 2019, but, in an excellent overview of market conditions, warns that many different factors will play a role in setting actual prices.
Banque Audi's latest Lebanon Weekly Monitor provides end-September figures for Lebanon's 15 'Alpha' Banks.
Thirteen GCC banks, across all six states, are in merger discussions, with most hoping to complete agreements by the end of the year. Our Editor describes the projected mergers and provides some statistics.
The Banker magazine has published its annual ranking of the biggest 100 Arab banks, ranked by Tier 1 capital. We look at where those banks are, and where most of the Tier 1 capital lies.
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will provide provide Bahrain with $10bn in financial support over the next five years. Our summary provides links to the Bahrain Ministry of Finance's new Fiscal Plan for 2018-2022.
Dubai-based Mashreqbank has agreed to pay $40mn to the New York financial authorities and to take a range of remedial measures related to compliance issues at its New York branch. The issues relate to Bank Secrecy Act and Anti Money Laundering issues.
Saudi British Bank made an announcement to the Saudi stock exchange on 4 October detailing the terms of its merger with AlAwwal Bank (formerly-known as Saudi hollandi Bank). The merge4 is expected to be completed during the first half of 2019.
Our interview with AbdulMagid Breish in the September 2018 edition of Arab Banker magazine has resulted in some controversy. The Libyan Investment Authority offers its version of events in response to our article.
ABA Corporate Member Mishcon de Reya's latest Enforcement Watch publication provides some useful comments and guidance on the Financial Conduct Authority's 2017/18 Annual Money Laundering Report. The Authority is broadening its approach to include investigations of smaller firms.
Eighty six Arab banks appear in The Banker's list of the biggest 1,000 banks in the world, ranked by Tier 1 capital. Sixty four of the 86 are in the GCC, with the other 22 based in six other Arab countries.
Subject to regulatory approvals, Paul Hartwell has been appointed CEO of First Abu Dhabi Bank. Suzie Aliker will move up from CFO to replace Hartwell as CEO of British Arab Commercial Bank.
A new report by S&P Global notes the decline in global sukuk issuance in the first half of 2018 and suggests fives reasons why sukuk issuance is likely to remain subdued during the rest of 2018.
ABA Corporate Member Fieldfisher has published a report on the sanctions recently imposed by the US on Russia, and offers guidance on who is affected, and the range of transactions that are targetted.
S&P has published a short paper estimating the effect on GCC banks' capital and earnings of implementing the new IFRS9 provisioning methodology. Though material, the effect will not lead to rating downgrades.
The Boards of Saudi British Bank and Alawwal (formerly Saudi Hollandi) have agreed to merge their banks. The new bank is expected to become the third largest in Saudi Arabia, behind National Commercial Bank and Al-Rajhi.
The Arab Bankers Association extends its condolences to the family and friends of Tirad al-Mahmood, the CEO of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, who died in April after a long battle with illness.
Government bonds issued by Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be included in JPMorgan's emerging market government bond indexes next year
Under new leadership, Export Development Bank of Egypt (EBE) is implementing a new strategy that is seeing the bank strengthen its franchise in Africa, broaden its range of client products, and upgrade senior management. The Arab Bankers Association spoke to Mervat Soltan, the bank's Chairperson about EBE's transformation.
A new report by MEES, the authoritative oil-industry newsletter, summarises recent trends in global oil production. Saudi Arabia, OPEC's biggest producer, averaged 9.96 mn b/d in 2017. Iraq produced 4.43 mn b/d and Iran 3.79 mn b/d: Iraqi production was flat but Iran's was sharply up. Total OPEC produciton averaged 32.48 mn b/d. The US will soon hit a...
A recent edition of The Banker magazine published a list of the biggest 100 Arab banks, ranked by Tier 1 capital. We reproduce the list and make some comments.
Nineteen GCC companies had market capitalisations of $10bn or more at the end of 2017, according to an end of year by SICO. At $81.6bn, SABIC was nearly twice as big as the second, Etisalat.
One of our Corporate Members has shared with us a contact list for the most senior managers at Egyptian banks and we are publishing it here.
Two recent reports from Standard & Poors analyse the reasons for increased bond and sukuk issuance in the GCC, and identify the key risks facing issuers in the region over the next year.
The International Islamic Financial Market has published its 6th Sukuk Report, containing data on recent issuance and sukuk structures.
S&P has downgraded ratings on three Middle East governments since January 2017. A new report describes rating trends and contains useful data.
Two ABA members have prepared legal briefings on how businesses could respond to the sanctions imposed on Qatar by some Arab countries. Vivien Davies, a partner at Fieldfisher, prepared one; and Dr. Nicolas Bremer, a partner with Alexander & Partner Rechtsanwalte, prepared the other.
Gatehouse Bank, the London-based Shari'ah-compliant bank that focusses on real estate financing, has made some new senior appointments, including a new CEO.
Mergers are rare in Gulf banking, but there are currently three significant mergers at various stages of consideration or completion. The ABA's editor takes a look, and provides some statistics.
Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, Saudi Arabia's Vice Minister of Economy and Planning, has given an interview with Bloomberg in which he provided some details on the Kingdom's plans to issue more debt, privatise state companies and balance the budget.
Thirteen years after selling its remaining stake in Saudi American Bank, Citibank is to have a physical presence in Saudi Arabia through an investment banking license, granted by the Capital Market Authority.
The Arab Bankers Association spoke to Shakeel Aslam, a Director with Grant Thornton and its head of Emerging Markets / Middle Eastern Markets, about the advice he gives clients on how to manage new and existing client relationships.
New executives have been appointed to lead Samba Financial Group and Bank Nizwa, the Saudi Stock Market (Tadawul) and the Kuwait Investment Authority.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority will be honoured at the Central Banking Awards Ceremony, to be held in London in March, for its work to strengthen internal risk management and compliance.
Saudi Arabia's budget for 2017 projects a sharp rise in revenue and a halving of the deficit. Expenditure is due to rise by 8%. The ABA's Editor, Andrew Cunningham, analyses the Saudi budget statement and provides some statistical tables.
Egypt began marketing five and 10 year notes on Tuesday 17 January, while the Investment Corporation of Dubai began its roadshows on 19 January. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are expected to come to the market with sovereign issues soon.
Fieldfisher has published a new note on Iranian sanctions in the light of Donald Trump's victory; the Central Bank is proposing to change Iran's unit of currency from the Riyal to the Toman; Boeing will supply 80 aircraft to Iran; and a new report by APICORP analyses the prospects for increased Iranian oil production. The ABA's Editor presents a round-up...
Walid Niazy, a prominent member of London's Arab Banking community and a founder of the Arab Bankers Association, died recently. In the attached article, we offer an appreciation of his life. The Arab Bankers Association extends its condolences to Walid's family and his friends.
With GCC fixed income issuance reaching record levels, the Arab Bankers Association spoke to Anita Yadav, head of Fixed Income Research at Emirates NBD, about the the trends in the market and the outlook for 2017.
Saudi officials completed the road show for the Kingdom's debt bond issue on 18 October. The ABA's editor, Andrew Cunningham, scrutinises the Prospectus for clues Saudi Arabia's financial position.
The IMF's Executive Board is expected to approve a $12bn loan to Egypt in early October. We spoke to Hugh Miles about the contents of the Egypt-IMF deal, and its prospects for success.
Riyad Bank has appointed Abdulmajid Abdulla al-Mubarak as its CEO, replacing Talal al-Qudaibi.
ABA Corporate member, Fieldfisher, has published an update on remaining US sanctions on Iran, and the opportunities that are opening up for both US and non-US firms to do business with Iran.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the Vision 2030 on 25 April. Read more to see how the Vision is structured and for details of some of its key points. We also have a link to the full English text.
The Arab Bankers Association spoke to Nabil Frik of British Arab Commercial Bank about the growing opportunities for banks to finance trade with the countries of the Maghreb and the type of business that his bank is developing, particularly in Algeria and Morocco.
Hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent on new energy projects in the Middle East over the next five years, according to an analysis by Apicorp Energy Research.
Bahrain and Oman have been downgraded, but Kuwait, Qatar and Abu Dhabi hold on to AA ratings. Opinions differ on Saudi Arabia. The Arab Bankers Association reviews recent rating actions, and provides a table listing current ratings and outlooks.
There has been a lot of talk about China's economic slowdown in recent weeks, but the reality of what is happening in China is complex. In a guest article, written for the ABA's website, Stephen Timewell, Editor Emeritus of The Banker magazine, and a frequent visitor to China, considers the positives and negatives of the Chinese economy and its banking...
Egypt devalued its currency by 14% on 14 March and then raised interest rates. The Central Bank has announced a foreign reserves target of $25 bilion and a commitment to single digit inflation. The ABA's Editor, Andrew Cunningham, summarises the recent moves in Egyptian monetary policy.
Saudi Arabia's bond issuance programme took total MENA fixed income issuance to more than $100 bn in 2015, but Egypt remains the region's biggest fixed income borrower, a new report from Kamco says.
The World Platinum Investment Council has published a report by David Jollie of Glaux Metal giving medium term supply and demand forecasts for the platinum market.
The Saudi budget for 2016 projects a 14% cut in expenditure compared to actual spending for 2015 (and a 28% cut on budgeted expenditure). Yet, a review of budgeted and actual expenditures over recent years, shows how difficult it is to predict Saudi spending and revenue patterns.
Kamco, the Kuwaiti investment company, has published a report on the GCC IPO market in 2015. Kamco reports that there were only six IPOs in 2015, compared to 17 in 2015, and they raised $1.5bn in capital.
ABA Corporate Member King & Spalding has phblished a report explaining how sanctions imposed on Iran have changed since 16 January: "Implementation Day" of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Fieldfisher, the international law firm, has issued a new analysis of the sanctions regime against Iran, following Implementation Day on 16 January, including guidance for firms seeking to engage with Iranian entities.
Most GCC stock markets declined by about 15% during 2015, according to data published by SICO, the Bahrain-based investment bank. The MSCI Emerging Market Index fell by 16% over the year, SICO said.
Gatehouse Bank has announced the departure of its CEO, Henry Thompson, while Simon Walker has left Qatar National Bank, where he was European Regional Manager, based in London.
North African banks account for 37 of the biggest 100, ranked according to Tier 1 Capital by The Banker Magazine. Egyptian banks account for 15 of the largest 100 and Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian banks seven each.
Hugh Miles is co-founder of Al Shafie Miles (www.alshafiemiles.com), a Cairo-based business intelligence consultancy specialising in the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab Banker recently spoke to Hugh about economic policy making in Saudi Arabia in the light of current low oil prices and the accession of King Salman to the throne in January 2015.
There has been a lot of press coverage recently about Saudi Arabia drawing down its financial reserves and issuing bonds in order to cover its budget deficit. Here are some numbers to help our readers make up their own minds about Saudi Arabia's financial position.
A new report by Apicorp suggests that Iran could increase its oil production by 400,000 b/d by the end of 2016 and at least another 300,000 by the end of 2017. The report details how such increases could be acheived by emplying storage, restoring old fields and bringing on new fields.
Darien Analytics has published its annual ranking of Gulf commercial banks. Sharjah's Investbank tops the ranking, with National Bank of Ras al-Kheimah second and Qatar's Masraf al-Rayan third. The rankings are based on six financial performance ratios.
Thirty seven North African banks appear in The Banker magazine's ranking of the biggest African banks, based on Tier 1 capital. The four biggest banks in Africa are all South African, but banks in Egypt, Morocco and Algeria account for nine of the 20 biggest banks.
Islamic Bank of Britain has been rebranded Al Rayan Bank following its takeover by Qatar-based Masraf Al-Rayan. Al Rayan Bank is based in Birmingham, in the British Midlands.
National Bank of Kuwait has announced new appointments, including a new CEO in Kuwait; Tariq El-Rifai will head Barclays' operations in Egypt; BNY Mellon has changed its ME&A team; and NBAD has a new Global Head of Merchant Banking.
Credit Agricole has announced that it will sell half of its stake in Saudi Fransi Bank to Prince Walid al-Talal. The Arab Banker's editor reviews the level of foreign bank ownership in the Saudi banking system.
Mazin Manna has taken over as CEO of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. The bank had been operating with an acting-CEO after Tirad Murad, who previously held the post, had to take medical leave.