Al Busaidy Mansoor Jamal & Co.

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Capital Markets

New rules for marketing insurance products in Oman

Filed under Capital Markets, Insurance, Takaful

Oman insurance rules

Oman’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) has published new rules for the marketing of insurance and takaful products in Oman (Decision E/69/2017). These replace the previous rules issued in 1983.

The new rules introduce a raft of additional requirements including:
– obliging insurers to complete CMA-issued application forms;
– expanding the documentation that an insurer needs to furnish in support of its application for product approval including: policy documents in Arabic, or Arabic translations (which are deemed to override their English counterparts); the insurer’s pricing policy for the product (which must be consistent with the insurer’s board approved underwriting and pricing policy); and marketing materials for the policy;
– recognition of fairness standards, which oblige insurers to ensure that policy documentation is balanced and fair;
– introduction of a time-bound application process (30 days in which to complete the application process from initial filing) and response process (30 days from filing of a complete application for the CMA to respond); and
– levying fees which insurance companies are required to pay the CMA for scrutiny of the product application (OMR 100) and for marketing it in Oman (OMR 500).

While overall the new rules bring structure to the previous practice-driven approach to obtaining CMA approval for marketing new products, insurers are likely to need further guidance on matters not specifically addressed by them. These include the procedure to be followed upon a refusal or deemed refusal of an application by the CMA, or the impact on insured parties and reinsurers of the cancellation by the CMA of consent for marketing a product.

For more on Oman’s insurance law, contact Ardeshir Patel.

New rules for Oman’s insurance brokers

Filed under Capital Markets, Insurance

Oman insurance broker

In April, Oman’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) issued a new regulation for insurance and reinsurance brokers. The new rules contain more stringent capital and guarantee requirements, major changes to the insurance brokerage licensing regime and restrictions designed to prevent conflicts of interest.

Under the new rules the current single brokerage licence which covered both insurance and reinsurance brokerage will be replaced by three separate licences for (i) re-insurance brokerage, (ii) insurance brokerage, and (iii) dual brokerage. Applications for the new licences are likely to entail brokerage firms amending their commercial activities as registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The most significant impact of the new rules for many brokerages will lie in the introduction of a minimum capital of OMR100,000. This represents a five-fold increase for many Omani brokerages currently registered with a capital of OMR20,000 under the Commercial Companies Law. Thresholds for the bank guarantees required to be deposited with the CMA as part of the licensing process have also been raised from OMR50,000 to OMR75,000 for insurance brokers, OMR150,000 for reinsurance brokers and OMR 200,000 for dual brokers.

The new rules also ban the ‘founders’ of brokerage companies from concurrently working for insurance companies, other brokers or agents in Oman. The percentage of shares a broker may hold in an insurance company has also been reduced from 10% to 5%. The combined effect of these restrictions is to lessen the risk of conflicts of interest arising between the insurance and insurance/reinsurance brokerage markets and to curtail the scope for interference by brokers in the conduct of insurance business. Another restriction is the ban on brokers from receiving or claiming any interest generated by the sums deposited in brokerage bank accounts (i.e. the accounts in which brokers keep client monies), from using these funds to obtain credit facilities or as security for bank loans.

The regulation is likely to have a significant impact on the brokerage industry in Oman. The robust approach taken signals the regulator’s determination to raise standards and adopt best international practice across all segments of the financial services sector in Oman.

For more on Oman’s insurance law, contact Mansoor Malik or Hussein Azmy

AMJ advises Oman Government on US$2billion international sukuk

Filed under AMJ Deals, AMJ News, Capital Markets, Islamic Banking and Finance, Sukuk

Oman's US$2billion sukuk

AMJ has advised the Government of Oman and the issuer, Oman Sovereign Sukuk Company, on the Omani law aspects of establishing an unlimited sukuk alijarah trust certificate issuance programme, and the debut US$2bn international sukuk issuance under the Programme. The Programme was listed on the Irish Stock Exchange in mid-May and followed by the US$2bn sovereign issuance which settled on June 1.

The sukuk facility, which has a seven-year tenor and profit rate of 4.397 percent, was effected under Rule 144A and Regulation S and listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.

The final order book was reportedly in excess of US$6.9 billion, more than three times the issue size, which demonstrates strong international demand for Oman’s high-yielding debt despite the country’s recent credit downgrade by Standard and Poor.

The transaction marks a number of firsts; the Programme is the first of its kind established by the Government; the sukuk issuance is Oman’s largest-ever; and the Sovereign’s first public offer of sukuk in the international market. The issuance marks Oman’s second foray into the international debt capital markets this year following a US$5 billion multi-tranche conventional bond sale in March upon which AMJ also advised. The funds raised by the two issuances are expected to meet a significant portion of the Sultanate’s requirements for 2017.

Mansoor Malik, managing partner, supported by senior Islamic Finance associate Asad Qayyum acted as Oman counsel to the Government and the issuer. Clifford Chance acted as international counsel. Alizz Islamic Bank, Citi, Dubai Islamic Bank, Gulf International Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan and Standard Chartered Bank were the sukuk book-runners.

In mid-2016, AMJ acted as sole counsel to the government on the Sultanate’s first international US$500 million sukuk issuance, which was privately placed. In two earlier ‘first of a kind’ transactions, AMJ advised the issue manager and joint lead managers on Oman’s debut US$648 million sovereign sukuk in 2015 and on Oman’s first-ever corporate issuance in 2013.

AMJ advises Oman government on US$5 billion bond

Filed under AMJ Deals, AMJ News, Capital Markets

Irish stock exchange

AMJ has advised the government on Omani law aspects of the country’s largest debt capital markets issue to date. The US$5 billion offering in tranches of five, 10 and 30 years was settled on 8 March 2017. The five-year tranche totalled US$1 billion, while the 10- and 30-year tranches raised US$2 billion each. The bonds were offered and sold in reliance on Rule 144A and Regulation S and were admitted to trading on the Irish Stock Exchange.

Order books for the issue which marks the Sultanate’s return to the international debt capital markets after an absence of two decades, reportedly totalled $20 billion, demonstrating strong international demand for Oman’s high-yielding debt.Most long term bonds were taken up by US investors in the United States thereby reducing the impact of Oman’s bond on liquidity within the region while the five year tranche was more in demand with Gulf based investors. The proceeds from the bond sale represent almost the entirety of Oman’s foreign borrowing requirement for 2017 which the government intends to use to cover around two thirds of the country’s expected budget deficit of US$ 7.8 million. The remainder will be covered from state reserves and domestic borrowing.

Mansoor Malik, managing partner, led AMJ’s team supported by senior associate Asad Qayyum. Clifford Chance acted as International Counsel to the government. Bank Muscat, Citi, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ICBC Standard, JP Morgan, Société Générale, and Standard Chartered Bank were joint-lead managers for the bond.

In mid-2016, AMJ acted as sole counsel to the government on the Sultanate’s first international US$500 million sukuk issuance, which was privately placed. In two earlier ‘first of a kind’ transactions, AMJ advised the issue manager and joint lead managers on Oman’s debut US$648 million sovereign sukuk in 2015 and on Oman’s first-ever corporate issuance in 2013.

AMJ partners Islamic Finance Oman Forum 2017

Filed under AMJ News, Banking and Finance, Capital Markets, Islamic Banking and Finance

Mansoor Malik IFN

AAMJ partnered the Islamic Finance News in staging a successful second Oman Forum and Dialogue at the Grand Millennium, Muscat on March 7. The day-long event gathered over 150 industry players, legal experts and stakeholders from across the Middle East, Europe and Asia in an audience with the regulators to discuss trends in Oman’s fast-growing Islamic finance industry.

In the opening keynote address H.E Abdullah Salim Al-Salmi, executive president of the Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced that two private sector sukuk programmes totalling OMR 300million (US$ 780million), have received initial approval from the CMA. These sukuk programmes are the ‘first of a kind’ under Oman’s new sukuk regulation and come as the government is contemplating a second international sovereign issuance.

In a second keynote, H.E Hamoud Sangour Al Zadjali, the executive president of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) expressed satisfaction with the pace of development in the Islamic finance segment. In the short span of four years, the combined assets of Oman’s Islamic banks and windows had reached OMR 3billion, representing a 10% market share, by the end of December 2016.

AMJ’s managing partner, Mansoor Malik, shared his insights on Islamic finance regulatory frameworks in two expert panel sessions. He stressed the need for the industry and regulators to embrace alternative investment products in order to maintain the positive growth trajectory of the Shariah compliant segment and create a vibrant and sustainable market. Malik recently advised on the Sultanate’s international US$500 million sukuk, which was privately placed and settled on 14 July 2016, as well as the sovereign’s debut sukuk and preceding corporate sukuk, the first of its kind in Oman.

AMJ’s banking partner, Marcus Pery, participated in the Forum’s closed-door dialogue on developing Oman’s Islamic financial markets, between industry experts and CMA and CBO representatives. Senior associate, Asad Qayyum delivered a workshop to students on legal and regulatory issues in Islamic finance.

For more information, contact Bernadette Bhacker-Millard