Sunday 14th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: FRIDAY, JANUARY 12TH: Morningstar has moved the Morningstar Analyst Rating™ for the Fidelity Global Inflation Linked Bond fund to Neutral. The fund previously held a Bronze rating. Ashis Dash, manager research analyst at Morningstar, says, “The fund’s rating was placed Under Review following the news that co-manager Jeremy Church was leaving Fidelity. Lead manager, Andrew Weir, who has managed the fund since launch in May 2008, remains in charge and is further supported by the new co-manager, Tim Foster. While we acknowledge Weir’s considerable experience in the inflation-linked space, some recent stumbles and below-benchmark returns over time have led us to lower our conviction in the fund. This is currently reflected by our Neutral rating.” - Italian GDP growth looks to have stalled to 0.1pc in the last quarter of 2015, falling below analyst expectations of 0.3% growth. The Italian economy grew by just 0.6% last year having come out of its worst slump since before the pyramids were built. The slowdown will put further pressure on reforming Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, who has been battling to save a banking system lumbering under €201bn (£156bn) of bad debt, equivalent to as much as 12% of GDP. It is a serious situation and one which threatens Italy’s traditionally benign relationship with the European Union. The EU’s bail in rules for bank defaults seeks to force creditors to take the brunt of any banking failures. Italy suffered four bank closures last year, which meant losses of something near €800m on junior bond holders (with much of the exposure held by Italian retail investors). No surprise perhaps, Italian bank stocks have taken a beating this year, Unicredit shares are currently €3.06, compared with a price of €6.41 in April last year. In aggregate Italian banking shares are down by more than 20% over the last twelve months. Italian economy minister Pier Carlo Padoan told Reuters at the beginning of February that there isn’t any connection between the sharp fall in European banking stocks, as he called on Brussels for a gradual introduction of the legislation. He stressed that he did not want legislation changed, just deferred - Is current market volatility encouraging issuers to table deals? Oman Telecommunications Co OTL.OM (Omantel) has reportedly scrapped plans to issue a $130m five-year dual-currency sukuk, reports the Muscat bourse. Last month, the state-run company priced the sukuk at a profit rate of 5.3%, having received commitments worth $82.16m in the dollar tranche and OMR18.4m ($47.86m) in the rial tranche. Meantime, Saudi Arabia's Bank Albilad says it plans to issue SAR1bn-SAR2bn ($267m-$533m) of sukuk by the end of the second quarter of 2016 to finance expansion, chief executive Khaled al-Jasser told CNBC Arabia - The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (Commission) announces that the Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee (EEMAC) will hold a public meeting at the Commission’s Washington, DC headquarters located at 1155 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20581. The meeting will take place on February 25th from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm – Local press reports say the UAE central bank will roll out new banking regulations covering board and management responsibilities and accountability – Following yesterday’s Eurogroup meeting, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, says that “Overall, the economic recovery in the eurozone continues and is expected to strengthen this year and next. At the same time, there are increasing downside risks and there is volatility in the markets all around the world. The euro area is structurally in a much better position now than some years ago. And this is true also for European banks. With Banking Union, we have developed mechanisms in the euro area to bring stability to the financial sector and to reduce the sovereign-banking nexus. Capital buffers have been raised, supervision has been strengthened, and we have clear and common rules for resolution. So overall, structurally we are now in a better position and we need to continue a gradual recovery”. Speaking at the press conference that followed the conclusion of the February 11th Eurogroup, Dijsselbloem also acknowledged that “good progress” has been made in official discussions between Greece and its officials creditors in the context of the 1st programme review. Yet, he noted that more work is needed for reaching a staff level agreement on the required conditionality, mostly on the social security pension reform, fiscal issues and the operation of the new privatization fund. On the data front, according to national account statistics for the fourth quarter of 2016 (flash estimate), Greece’s real GDP, in seasonally and calendar adjusted terms, decreased by 0.6%QoQ compared to -1.4%QoQ in Q3. The NBS Executive Board decided in its meeting today to cut the key policy rate by 0.25 pp, to 4.25%. - Today’s early European session saw an uptick in energy stocks, banking shares and US futures. Brent and WTI crude oil futures both jumped over 4% to $31.28 a barrel and $27.36 respectively before paring gains slightly; all this came on the back of promised output cuts by OPEC. That improving sentiment did not extend to Asia where the Nikkei fell to a one-year low. Japan's main index fell to its lowest level in more than a year after falling 4.8% in trading today, bringing losses for the week to over 11%. Yet again though the yen strengthened against the US dollar, which was down 0.1% ¥112.17. Swissquote analysts says, “We believe there is still some downside potential for the pair; however traders are still trying to understand what happened yesterday - when USD/JPY spiked two figures in less than 5 minutes - and will likely remain sidelined before the weekend break.” Japanese market turbulence is beginning to shake the government and may spur further easing measures if not this month, then next. Trevor Greetham, head of multi asset at Royal London Asset Management, says “When policy makers start to panic, markets can stop panicking. We are seeing the first signs of policy maker panic in Japan with Prime Minister Abe holding an emergency meeting with Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda. We are going to get a lot of new stimulus over the next few weeks and not just in Japan. I expect negative interest rates to be used more in Japan and in Europe and I expect this policy to increase bank lending and weaken currencies for the countries that pursue it”. Greetham agrees that both the yen and euro have strengthened despite negative rates. “Some of this is due to the pricing out of Fed rate hike expectations; some is temporary and to do with risk aversion. In a market sell off money tends to flow away from high yielding carry currencies to low yielding funding currencies and this effect is dominating in the short term”. Australia's S&P ASX 200 closed down 1.2%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng settled down 1.01. in New Zealand the NZX was down 0.89%, while in South Korea the Kospi slid 1.41%. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 1.25 points or 0.05% higher to 2539.53, taking the year-to-date performance to -11.91%. The top active stocks today were DBS, which declined 0.91%, SingTel, which gained 1.13%, JMH USD, which declined 1.39%, OCBC Bank, which gained 0.13% and UOB, with a0.34% advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined 0.50%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined0.31%. Thai equities were down 0.38%, the Indian Sensex slip 0.71%, while Indonesian equities were down another 1.16%. The euro was down 0.3% against the dollar at $1.1285, even after data showed Germany's economy remained on a steady yet modest growth path at the end of last year. Gold fell 0.7% to $1238.80 an ounce, after gold gained 4.5% Thursday to its highest level in a year. Greetham summarises: “Like a lot of people, we went into this year's sell off moderately overweight equities and it has been painful. What we have seen has been a highly technical market with many forced sellers among oil-producing sovereign wealth funds and financial institutions protecting regulatory capital buffers. However, economic fundamentals in the large developed economies remain positive, unemployment rates are falling and consumers will benefit hugely from lower energy prices and loose monetary policy.”

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Malaysia offers tax breaks to secure dominance of sukuk issues

Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Malaysia offers tax breaks to secure dominance of sukuk issues Malaysia is offering tax breaks to issuers in an effort to secure its global dominance of Islamic finance. It seems to be working, there appears to be a record rally in foreign-currency sukuk. Moreover, arrangers say interest is increasing among local corporate issuers; with Standard Chartered claiming a growing issuance pipeline worth $1bn, most of which will be in foreign currency denominated bonds. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

Malaysia is offering tax breaks to issuers in an effort to secure its global dominance of Islamic finance. It seems to be working, there appears to be a record rally in foreign-currency sukuk. Moreover, arrangers say interest is increasing among local corporate issuers; with Standard Chartered claiming a growing issuance pipeline worth $1bn, most of which will be in foreign currency denominated bonds.

Malaysia is seeking to strengthen its lead over the Gulf Cooperation Council countries as a centre of Islamic finance. It hopes to become a capital markets issuance hub, and in an effort to secure its place in the pantheon of issuing markets has announced that it is exempting investors from capital gains taxes on non-ringgit sukuk between now and the end of 2014. It is a smart move, given that more Asian companies see sukuk denominated in currencies other than the ringgit as an effective funding strategy. Malaysia has become the world’s leading sukuk market, accounting for some 73% of the $92bn of sukuk issued globally last year; a banner year in which issuance volume rose by 68% on 2011. Malaysia is also the domicile for 68% of the $210bn total sukuk outstanding globally as at end-2011, according to recent figures issued by the Securities Commission in Malaysia.

Nonetheless, there is some way to go and sales of foreign currency bonds issued out of Malaysia have topped only $358m so far this year, compared with a grand total of $2.1bn for the whole of last year. The signs are that the Malaysian authorities have discounted this year for foreign currency denominated ringgit and have introduced a raft of initiatives in the hope of capitalising on better global market conditions in 2013 and beyond. Ringgit sukuk however continue to outstrip issuance in foreign currency.



Khazanah, the country’s sovereign-wealth fund alone, sold $358m of seven-year bonds convertible into shares at a negative yield in March alone. However, that was pretty much a plain vanilla deal for the issuer, which is rated A3 by Moody’s. Sukuk watchers may remember that the fund issued the first yuan-denominated Shari’a compliant notes in Hong Kong last year.

Corporate sales of ringitt denom­inated sukuk in Malaysia climbed 8% in the first quarter (compared with Q1 2011) to MYR13.4bn, after Tanjung Bin Energy raised MYR3.3bn in March in the biggest offering so far this year. Investor demand is also buoyant. A recent issue by Pembinaan BLT, the state-owned construction company, worth MYR1.35bn was over­subscribed 2.6 times.

Even so, the market infrastructure remains problematic and will likely dampen growth unless Malaysia can unlock key elements. Among them must rank a lack of secondary market liquidity; in particular the lack of secondary market trading. This is a problem of infrastructure and supply as well as a lack of formal trading mechanisms. Without an active secondary market liquidity and sustained fund manager participation in the market is not really feasible.

Once the Kuala Lumpur-based International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) is up and running properly, the resulting intermarket dialogue should spur member states and the central bank executives that represent them in the corporation should help (over the longer term) should help to mitigate this lack of market liquidity. The IILM is supposed to facilitate cross-border liquidity management among institutions offering Islamic financial services by making available a variety of Shari’a-compliant instruments, including sukuk, on commercial terms, to suit the varying liquidity needs of these institutions. The IILM, of which the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) is a founding member, is due to launch its debut benchmark sukuk within the next two months. Some $3bn of issuance is expected to originate out of the IILM each year.

For now, Malaysia is managing to retain the initiative and remains the most developed systemic Islamic financial market and an active secondary trading market. However, it is not the largest liquidity pool in Islamic finance; that honour goes to Saudi Arabia, which is potentially the largest sukuk origination market; though again, local infrastructure limitations are apparent. Very few sukuk, for instance, are traded on the Tadawul and the market remains firmly domestic.

According to the latest data of the Securities Commission Malaysia, between 2000 and 2010, the First Capital Market Masterplan period, the local Islamic capital market more than tripled in value to MYR1.05trn, growing at an annualised rate of 13.6%. The Second Capital Market Masterplan, or CMP2, which spans the ten-year period to 2020 (please refer to FTSE Global Markets, Issue 57, pages 55 to 60 for more information), expects Malaysia’s Islamic capital market to grow by an average 10.6% a year, to reach just under MYR3bn by 2020, of which sukuk segment will account for 46% of the total.

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