U.S. real estate financing company W.P. Carey believes there is a 50% chance it will be able to launch an Islamic fund to purchase real estate. The idea dates back to 1997 when it planned to launch a Shari'ah-compliant fund, but abandoned the launch because of lack of attractive investments. The initial fund was focused on U.S. based property but the new one will probably have an international focus. The company specializes in sale and lease-back transactions which make it an attractive type of business in which to use Islamic finance.
A lawyer, Megat Hzaini Hassan, writes for Reuters about the permissibility of diifferent types of debt sales in the context of securitization of portfolios of different types of Islamic financial products. Apart from Malaysia, where debt sales (bay al'dayn) is more likely to be viewed as Shari'ah-compliant, the general sense is that if the majority of the assets being securitized are ijara (rather than murabaha), then debt re-sale is permissible because the ijara provides the financier with ownership of the underlying assets, rather than just a future stream of cash flows.
The recent wave of sovereign bond and sukuk issues in the GCC are part of a strategy to create a yield curve, encourage the development of more liquid secondary markets and increase corporate issuance following a steep drop-off in new issues as a result of the credit crisis. Out of the $750 million CBB sukuk 55% of the investors were from the region and there was enough demand for the entire issue to be subscribed by GCC-based investors.
- The Central Bank of Bahrain issued another of its regular sukuk al-ijara (No. 46) that have a return of 1.25% and mature in 182 days. It was oversubscribed 200%.
- The University of Leicester is holding a conference to look at whether the Islamic financial industry is more robust than the conventional financial industry as well to examine lessons from the crisis for Islamic finance.
- Africa Reinsurance Corp is planning a new takaful business. AfricaRe was founded in 1976 by the African Development Bank.
The Reims Management School in France is planning to offer an Islamic Banking & Finance course as part of its Masters in Management program.
- Shariah Fortune, a relatively new think tank based in Dubai, issued a report about Islamic finance gaining mommentum as well as the dangers from lack of standardization in the quality of Islamic finance.