Winners’ Profile | Best Islamic Financial Institutions 2015

Annual Awards honoring the Best Islamic Financial Institutions in the world.

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Best Sukuk Bank | CIMB Islamic Bank

Over the past 12 months, CIMB Islamic Bank participated in 30% of Malaysian ringgit sukuk issuances (Islamic bonds). It lead-managed 15% of global sukuk, valued at $7.1 billion. The bank jointly lead-managed and arranged the first yen sukuk issuance by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFG Malaysia. It also acted as principal adviser, lead arranger, manager and bookrunner on the Export-Import Bank of Malaysia’s $1 billion multicurrency sukuk program, the first US dollar sukuk by an ex-im bank globally.

Best Retail Bank | Maybank Islamic

Asean’s largest Islamic bank by assets rolled out a number of retail banking innovations in 2014 across credit cards, deposits and investments, microfinance and longer-term investment planning, including an Islamic credit card with rewards deals for weekly winners in Malaysia.

Best Islamic Private Bank | NCB

Saudi-based NCB Capital is a leading provider of Islamic asset management and private wealth management services. It boasts a wide range of funds (real estate, hedge and money market funds) to help high-net-worth individuals invest their money in a shariah-compliant manner. In 2013, NCB Capital grew assets under management by more than 13%, to 50 billion Saudi riyals ($13 billion).

Best Islamic Investment Bank | CIMB Islamic Bank

CIMB participated in a number of landmark sukuk issuances in 2014, including HM Treasury’s £200 million ($315 million) sukuk and the first yen-denominated sukuk. It was also joint lead manager and bookrunner for Indonesia’s first sukuk based on the wakala structure (in which another party acts as agent), which enabled the government of Indonesia to leverage a pool of underlying assets, including land and buildings.

Best Islamic Custodian | Deutsche Bank

The custody, or safekeeping, of assets is still a relatively underdeveloped area in the Islamic banking space. Deutsche Bank’s Trust and Securities Services business has worked on this area with Islamic asset and fund managers for a number of years and received its Islamic banking license in Malaysia. Maybank Islamic has also recently announced its entrance into this space.

Best Takaful (Insurance) Provider | Etiqa Takaful

Etiqa Takaful is part of the Maybank banking group. It has a strong distribution network and a wide range of products and solutions encompassing automobile, family and general insurance. According to Fitch Ratings, in 2013, Etiqa Takaful captured 46% of the general takaful (shariah-compliant insurance) segment, in terms of gross contributions, and 29% of the family takaful segment, based on new business.

Best Retakaful Provider | Swiss Re Retakaful

Global reinsurer Swiss Re estimates that global takaful contributions could surpass $7 billion in 2015. Swiss Re has offered retakaful (shariah-compliant reinsurance) in the Middle East since 2006. It also has operations in Malaysia in the area of family and general retakaful.

Most Innovative Institution | Noor Bank

The fifth-largest Islamic bank in the UAE, Noor Bank has pioneered a number of key innovations in the Islamic finance market, including work with the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre’s commodities trading platform, which the bank has leveraged to provide small and midsize companies (SMEs) and corporations with working capital solutions based on commodity murabaha (non-interest-bearing loans). Its pioneering Islamic factoring solution for both corporate and SME customers addresses the provision of credit facilities for an often overlooked customer segment.

Most Innovative New Structure | Islamic Bank of Asia

Based in Singapore, Islamic Bank of Asia developed a 15 million Singapore dollar ($11 million) convertible murabaha (contract of sale) facility for a Singapore utilities infrastructure company. Facilities like this enable IBA to make private-equity-style investments in companies with attractive short-term yields, thereby enabling early-stage growth companies to more easily tap Islamic liquidity pools. The commodity murabaha can be converted into company shares at a later date.

Best Asset Management Company | CIMB-Principal Islamic Asset Management

With assets under management of $1.9 billion as of December 2014, CIMB-Principal Asset Management has spearheaded a number of key innovations among the Islamic asset management community. It is working with Turkish asset management company Rhea Asset Management to facilitate growth in the Turkish Islamic asset management market. On the funds side, it continues to innovate in the area of Islamic real estate investment trusts and with a Ucits (undertakings for the collective investment in transferable securities) global sukuk fund.

Best Shariah-Compliant Index Provider | Thomson Reuters IdealRatings Islamic Indices

Thomson Reuters IdealRatings says its Indices are accepted by most schools of shariah jurisprudence. Its screening process is research-based rather than automated. Its Islamic indexes include companies in more than 60 countries and key investment markets such as the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the Middle East and North Africa.

Best Law Firm with Islamic Services | Allen & Overy

Allen and Overy’s Islamic finance practice has advised on a number of landmark deals. It advised Maybank Islamic on the largest syndicated Islamic facility in the Malaysian market, the $2.3 billion equivalent Islamic multicurrency commodity murabaha facility for oil and gas firm SapuraKencana Petroleum.

Best Islamic Project Finance Provider | NCB

Saudi Arabia’s largest bank based on assets, National Commercial Bank played a key role in a number of major project finance deals in 2013, including the $20 billion Sadara Chemicals venture between Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical to build a giant chemical facility at the Jubail Industrial City II complex. NCB committed $350 million to the project. It also contributed $150 million to the $1.1 billion syndicated financing of Saudi Basic Industries and ExxonMobil’s expansion and specialty-elastomer plant upgrade, and participated in the Saudi Electricity Company’s $7 billion Rabigh 2 independent power project.

Best Islamic Commodities Provider | Dubai Multi Commodities Centre

The Dubai-based Multi Commodities Centre’s trade-processing platform, Tradeflow, automates the transfer of warrants of ownership of commodities, providing transparency in ownership of goods, which can then be used to facilitate Islamic finance transactions that leverage commodities as the basis for extending finance to companies.

Best Islamic Real Estate Finance Provider | QInvest

The Qatari investment bank says its deployment of capital in real estate investments yielded strong returns in 2014, a trend it expects to continue in 2015. Acting as both a principal and arranger in real estate transactions, QInvest in 2014 closed several deals with a combined value of $1.8 billion. Recent high-profile transactions include its investment in a retail complex and a mixed-use development in Manhattan.

Best Islamic Fund Manager | Al Rajhi Capital

Al Rajhi Capital is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest Islamic fund managers and a leading provider of mutual funds based on assets under management. Its funds often outperform industry benchmarks and encompass a wide range of assets, including sukuk, commodity murabaha, real estate and private equity.

Best Up-and-Comer | Itqan Capital

The Saudi-based investment company is majority-owned by the Al Baraka Banking Group, headquartered in Bahrain. Since its launch in 2007, it has developed innovative investment products in real estate and healthcare. It is working on the launch of a Saudi education fund, an SME fund and a Saudi healthcare fund.

Islamic Finance Deal of the Year | International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) $500 million sukuk, with proceeds used to buy vaccines

The World Bank is the treasurer for the International Finance Facility for Immunisation, which issues bonds to raise money for programs to protect children against dangerous diseases. In November 2014, IFFIm issued its inaugural sukuk, which raised $500 million to accelerate the availability of funds for immunization programs. Participating banks included Standard Chartered Bank as global coordinator, as well as Barwa Bank, CIMB Investment Bank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and NCB Capital, in collaboration with the World Bank. Described as “the first charity-driven sukuk” and the first sukuk from a “suprana- tional,” the offering attracted primarily Islamic investors from Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


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Gulf Cooperation Council | Kuwait Finance House

Ratings agency Fitch has praised the leading retail bank’s low levels of borrower concentration, making it less susceptible to risk (when loans are not evenly distributed). Other positives include KFH’s leading Islamic franchise and strong funding profile. Fitch cited the bank’s efforts to restructure and streamline its business and strengthen and integrate risk management. KFH has participated in a number of landmark deals including acting as primary dealer on the International Islamic Liquidity Management’s $860 million sukuk issuance.

Non-GCC Middle East/North Africa | Al Baraka Bank

The Middle East and North Africa have been plagued by political, economic and social unrest since the onset of the Arab Spring (2011), but Al Baraka’s commitment to the region has not wavered, and it has continued to expand into new markets. In 2014, the Al Baraka Banking Group’s net income rose by 7% to $275 million. It has opened new branches in Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria and is exploring a move into Morocco.

Asia-Pacific | Maybank Islamic

Maybank Islamic has a presence in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. The bank lays claim to being not only the largest Islamic bank in the Asean region, in terms of assets, but also the most profitable. It had pretax income of $476 million in 2014, up 12% from the year before. It operates a strong network of more than 400 Maybank branches in Malaysia, 459 branches in Indonesia, 22 branches in Singapore, and others in Hong Kong, and is a leading underwriter of global Islamic bonds.

Europe | Bank of London and the Middle East

BLME acted as co-lead manager for the Islamic Development Bank’s two $1.5 billion, five-year sukuk tranches. Profit of £6.7 million last year was up 55% from the year before. The UK market where it operates has been shoring up its role as Europe’s major Islamic finance hub with HM Treasury’s 2014 sovereign sukuk issuance. BLME didn’t participate in that landmark deal, but it bodes well for the future of the sector.


Afghanistan | Afghan United Bank

In an effort to become a fully-fledged Islamic bank, Afghan United Bank was the first in the country to obtain an Islamic banking license. Total assets stood at 18.3 billion afghani ($315 million) as of December 31, 2014. Profit before tax more than doubled from 2013 levels, to 447 million afghani.

Algeria | Banque Al Baraka D’Algérie

Banque Albaraka D’Algérie was the country’s first Islamic bank and is part of the Bahrain-headquartered Al Baraka Banking Group. The bank’s local financing and investment increased by 15% in 2014, with gains across the bank’s product portfolio. Revenues from banking and other services declined by 27% year-on-year, resulting in a 9% dip in total operating income. The bank aims to have a network of 50 branches by 2019, and it continues to invest in e-banking and mobile services.

Azerbaijan | Kauthar Bank

Kauthar was the first bank to operate according to Islamic principles in Azerbaijan, although other banks have set up Islamic windows (departments of conventional banks). Azerbaijan is in the process of developing legal and regulatory reforms for its Islamic banking laws.

Bahrain | Al Baraka Islamic Bank Bahrain

Operating income and assets continue to grow steadily at the bank. Total operating income for 2014 was $21 million, an increase of 4% from 2013. The bank offers innovative financing and borrowing accounts based on the wakala principle, a range of takaful (bank insurance) solutions and financing to help local SMEs grow.

Bangladesh | Islami Bank Bangladesh

Established in 1983 by local businessmen in conjunction with Middle East-based Islamic investors, including the Islamic Development Bank, IBB has a long tradition of Islamic banking. In 2014 total operating income of the bank rose slightly, to 27.4 billion taka ($352 million). Pretax profit eased, to 10.5 billion taka, on higher operating expenses.

Brunei | Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam

Brunei’s largest Islamic bank benefits from having the government as majority shareholder, as well as from its relationship with minority stakeholder Fajr Capital, based in Dubai. BIBD continues to consolidate its market position with total assets, profit and net income showing double-digit growth in 2014 from the year before. Its strongest areas last year were deposits and mortgages and unsecured consumer lending.

Egypt | Al Baraka Egypt

With Egypt’s economy appearing to shrug off the sluggishness of the past few years as it wrestled with major political and economic reforms, Al Baraka Egypt saw total assets rise by 19% to $3.1 billion in 2014, with financings and investments growing by the same amount to reach $2.7 billion. Total operating income for 2014 stood at $121 million, an increase of 17%. Al Baraka introduced the first Islamic credit card to the Egyptian market in 2014.

Gambia | Arab Gambian Islamic Bank

Gambian entrepreneur Muhammed Jah recently acquired a majority stake in the Arab Gambian Islamic Bank. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) holds a minority stake. AGIB’s future strategy is being guided by the recommendations of the Islamic Research and Training Institute, which is an affiliate of the IDB.

Indonesia | Bank Muamalat Indonesia

Bank Muamalat has played an important role in the development of the country’s Islamic banking sector, which, according to Fitch Ratings, constitutes just 1% of total banking system assets in Indonesia. Muamalat raised a significant amount of core capital through a rights issue in 2013 and at 14.2% and 17.6%, respectively, its core and total capital ratios remain well above its peers.

Jordan | Jordan Islamic Bank

Against the backdrop of a difficult operating environment, Fitch Ratings says JIB’s asset quality has improved. The largely domestic bank has managed to contain growth in nonperforming loans as financing levels have increased. Net income for 2014 was flat from the year before at $63.6 million.


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Kazakhstan | Al Hilal Islamic Bank

Currently the only Islamic bank in Kazakhstan, Al Hilal may soon be joined by other providers if a new Islamic banking law designed to support the sector has the desired effect. Islamic finance was permitted in the country in 2009 but has failed to develop in any significant way. The Islamic Development Bank is in the process of redrafting Islamic banking law to clarify the structure and range of Islamic financial instruments and provide greater transparency in the tax regime for Islamic banks.

Kenya | Gulf African Bank

Islamic banking appears to be thriving in Kenya, where Gulf African Bank was the first dedicated Islamic provider but many commercial banks provide Islamic windows. The International Finance Corporation made a $5 million equity investment in Gulf African Bank to support lending to SMEs in East Africa. Another institution, Standard Chartered, recently announced plans to roll out Islamic banking services in the country.

Kuwait | Boubyan Bank

With the help of its major shareholder, National Bank of Kuwait, Boubyan Bank has successfully completed a major economic transformation in which it boosted its capital base and installed a new executive management team. The bank reported record profits in the first quarter of 2015 of 7.4 million Kuwaiti dinars ($24 million), up 30% from the year before. Boubyan’s asset management and brokerage division has been growing steadily, and it continues to participate in landmark structured finance and sukuk transactions.

Lebanon | BLOM Development Bank

A previous winner in this category, BLOM Development Bank offers a wide range of retail and corporate banking services in accordance with shariah law. Its corporate banking division offers Islamic financial services for large clients as well as SMEs and covers all goods and merchandise financing from local and international providers.

Malaysia | Maybank Islamic

In 2014, Maybank’s total assets made up 30% of the Malaysian banking industry, with financing and deposits contributing 33% and 25%, respectively. The bank boasts more than 400 branches in Malaysia, and its investment banking division is a leading underwriter of ringgit-denominated sukuk.

Mauritania | Banque Al Wava Mauritanienne Islamique

In 2012, Mauritania’s central bank introduced new laws for Islamic banks in an effort to extend banking services to underserved segments of the population. To assist with human capital development in Islamic banking, Banque Al wava hosted an Islamic finance training event for local banks last December. The event was organized by the Bahrain-based General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions and the Islamic Development Bank.

Morocco | Attijariwafa Bank

Attijariwafa, Morocco’s largest private bank, was the first to create an Islamic subsidiary, Dar Assafaa, after legislation permitting the establishment of Islamic banks and financial products came into effect in January. Attijariwafa has since announced that Dar Assafaa will be transformed into a full participatory, or Islamic, bank.

Nigeria | Jaiz Bank

As the only Islamic bank in Nigeria, Jaiz Bank is at the forefront of promoting interest-free banking services in Africa’s largest economy. The Islamic Development Bank is a major shareholder in the bank, which also has a close relationship with Islami Bank Bangladesh. The bank has 10 branches and plans to expand its operations by increasing its share capital base from $39 million to $78 million.

Oman | BankMuscat Meethaq

As the first Islamic window in Oman, BankMuscat Meethaq has a well-developed suite of banking solutions for retail and corporate customers and an 11-branch network, which it plans to expand in the near future. The bank emphasizes its efforts to ensure the separation of funds in its Islamic and conventional banking operations and its adherence to international Islamic banking standards.

Pakistan | Meezan Bank

Meezan Bank, the first and largest Islamic bank in Pakistan, recently acquired the banking business of HSBC Pakistan, which it plans to convert to an Islamic bank. In October the business and branches of HSBC Pakistan were transferred to Meezan, a move that will help it consolidate its already dominant position.

Palestine | Palestine Islamic Bank

PIB commenced operations in 1997 and has paid-in capital of $48 million. It has expanded its domestic network largely through acquisitions. Profitability has continued to improve. Pretax income rose 22% in 2013—the latest annual results available—to $9 million, while assets grew 19% to reach $502 million.

Qatar | Barwa Bank

Qatar’s newest and fastest-growing Islamic bank is making its presence felt in the market, participating in landmark Islamic finance transactions, including our choice for Islamic finance deal of the year, the International Finance Facility for Immunisation’s $500 million sukuk. The bank’s 2014 third quarter—the most recent period it reported—saw net profit increase by 43%, to 641 million Qatari riyal ($176 million), compared with the same period a year earlier.

Saudi Arabia | NCB

Describing itself as the largest bank by assets in the Arab world and one of the pioneers in Islamic banking in the kingdom, NCB achieved record net income of 7.8 billion Saudi riyal ($2.1 million) in 2013. Total assets increased 9%, to 377.3 billion riyal.

Senegal | Banque Islamique du Senegal

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank, is a majority shareholder in Banque Islamique du Senegal, which in recent years has improved its profitability and diversified its customer portfolio with a particular focus on the retail banking sector.

Singapore | Maybank Singapore Islamic Banking

In 2014 the Singapore operations of Asean’s largest Islamic bank by assets rolled out new, shariah-compliant financing solutions for the retail and SME market segments in Singapore. It also launched Islamic trade facilities and foreign currency deposits.

South Africa | FNB Islamic

FNB Islamic is the Islamic banking operation of one of South Africa’s oldest banks, FirstRand Bank. FNB Islamic provides a range of shariah-compliant banking services, including deposit accounts, asset finance and wealth management.

Sri Lanka | Amãna Bank

Since launching in 2011, Sri Lanka’s first Islamic bank has expanded its reach to 14 branches across the country. In 2014, customer deposits increased by more than 60% to 29.2 billion Sri Lankan rupee ($219 million). The bank is supported by strategic shareholders, including the Islamic Development Bank, Bank Islam Malaysia and AB Bank in Bangladesh.

Syria | Al Baraka Syria

Three of Syria’s 14 private banks are Islamic banks. Other Islamic banks have a longer history in Syria, but Albaraka Syria has a more than 9% share of the market, based on assets. Despite ongoing political, economic and social unrest in the country, Albaraka Syria recorded 2014 profits of $12.9 million.

Turkey | Kuveyt Türk

Kuwait Finance House is a majority shareholder in Kuveyt Türk. Despite increased competition in the participation-banking sector in Turkey, Kuveyt Türk has a well-established reputation in the market and saw net profits increase by 23% in 2014.

Thailand | Islamic Bank of Thailand

Last December, Fitch Ratings reported that additional capital injections were planned for Islamic Bank of Thailand, which is a key policy bank in Thailand because of its ownership by the state. Recently the bank has focused on reducing problem loans and improving its capital adequacy ratio (a measure of capital expressed as a percentage of a bank’s risk-weighted credit exposure).

UAE | Al Hilal Bank

It started up operations in the difficult days of the 2008 global financial crisis, yet over a short period of time Al Hilal Bank has shored up profitability and established a reputation as being an innovative fund provider. The bank’s sole shareholder is the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government.

United Kingdom | Al Rayan Bank

Formerly known as Islamic Bank of Britain, Al Rayan Bank is the only shariah-compliant retail bank in the UK. In May this year the bank announced its first profit since it was established in 2004. In 2014, operating income surged 168%, to £11.8 million ($18 million).

United States | American Finance House Lariba

American Finance House has provided interest-free banking services in the US since 1987, when it was founded by pioneering Islamic scholar Dr. Yahia Abdul Rahman. Its Islamic financial services are geared toward businesses and consumers.

Yemen | Tadhamon International Islamic Bank

Despite a difficult operating environment, Tadhamon managed to grow revenues by 34% in 2013. The bank has managed to withstand challenging market conditions thanks to its strong solvency and a high level of capital adequacy at 14.7% (a capital adequacy ratio is expressed as a percentage of a bank’s risk-weighted credit exposure).