Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Fatwa shopping? Not for Barclays

The limited number of Sharia scholars has meant the same
group of men are on various advisory boards which has led to criticism
that people can go “fatwa shopping” and that scholars are in it for the money.

Not so, says Harris Irfan, head of Islamic products at
Barclays Capital.

“We’re not out fatwa shopping,” he said at the Reuters
Islamic Banking and Finance Summit. “We want to work with the
scholar who’s willing to say ‘no’ (to non-Sharia products)”

A study last year by Funds at Work, a consultant for the
fund industry, looked at scholars’ engagement by financial firms
in the Gulf Arab region. It found the top 10 scholars hold about
46 percent of all available positions in the region.

Internationally, excluding the Gulf, the top 10 scholars –
out of 70 active outside the region — hold 58 percent of board
positions.

Skeletons in the closet, sprawling ownership stymie Gulf bank consolidation

Anyone waiting for Gulf banks to consolidate — a long talked about prospect — can forget about it for now.

With debt markets shut, leaving only pricey equity financing, budding suitors are standing frozen, unable to make a commitment.

from Global Investing:

The best of both worlds?

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Combined Shariah and ethical/SRI products could be the way forwards for Islamic finance investing, according to Dr Humayon Dar, CEO at BMB Islamic, the Shariah consultancy at BMG Group.

Speaking at the Reuters Islamic Finance Summit today, Dar highlighted the development of an upcoming F&C fund that will meet both ethical and Shariah investing criteria, and can be sold to both Muslims and non-Muslims. "I see this as the way forward in markets such as Malaysia, where a significant proportion of the population is non-Muslim," he said, adding that once such products have established a track record, it should appeal to a broader audience, and encourage other launches.

AUDIO – The costs of war

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Wars have numerous costs and most of those are unimaginable for most of us not in the middle of one.

But, aside from the tragic cost of death or injury, wars also cost a lot of money to finance and President-elect Barack Obama will be facing some of those costs (as well as a whole mess of other stuff) when he takes office in January.

AUDIO – Teddy Roosevelt had it right

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The world is a more dangerous place because of the global economic meltdown, according to Northrop Grumman Chief Executive Ronald Sugar, whose company provides specialized aircraft, radar and other electronics to meet that threat.

Sugar was the kick-off speaker at the annual Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit on Monday in Washington, D.C.

It’s never easy keeping to times

The Reuters Middle East Investment Summit kicks off on Monday 3 November. With the world facing its worst economic downturn since the 1930s, the summit is set to provide a view from the world’s largest oil producing nation. Events organisation is never easy and in such turbulent times, the region is proving just as difficult. Five speaker cancellations just 12 hours before the summit highlighted just how diifficult keeping appointments is in the region. Emergency board meetings, sudden trips overseas or in one case “yes we confirm in the morning” to “we are not sure by lunch time” to “no, no the chairman has other engagements by the evening.” Anybody doing business in the region is acutely aware that appointments are never rigid, but when the world needs stability and not chaos it might be time to keep to those appointments to reassure the investment community. As one public relations executive noted “As they say in these parts In Sha’ Allah (God Willing) next time.”

Audio – Kuwait Finance House sees silver lining in downturn

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lim-boh-soon.jpg Lim Boh Soon, chief executive officer of Kuwait Finance House in Singapore said at the Reuters Wealth Management Summit that he sees the period of downturn in the global economy lasting 18-24 months.

However, he thinks the market sell-off over the past two weeks has thrown up good value and said the Middle Eastern bank will look to raise up to $600 million for three Asia-focused funds next year.  Kuwait Finance House is the Gulf third-largest lender.

A philosophical look at the habits of the super-rich

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rtx8vgi.jpgThe credit crisis may be hitting the man on the street hard, but spending by the “other half” on the latest super yacht or Damien Hirst work of art looks set to carry on relatively unaffected.

Super-wealthy individuals in commodity-rich areas such as Russia and the Middle East are reaping the benefits of a five-year boom in oil and other commodity prices.

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