Monday, August 23, 2010

Islamic finance lagging in private equity; sukuk for the Saudi mortgage market

An article cites Hussein Hassan, the head of Middle east structuring at Deutsche Bank pointing out that Islamic banks avoid private equity despite its similarity with the partnership approach in Islamic finance contracts like mudaraba. This is attributed to the use of high levels of debt in private equity, the financing of haram industries and the asset-liability mismatch in Islamic banks which limits their ability to invest in longer-term projects. Lahem Al-Nasser covers a similar topic when he chides Islamic banks for financing more "traditional" projects over projects which are new and untested. He says this bias is based on the management having experience in conventional banking who believe that "Islamic banking is nothing more than a marketing instrument to make profit" and they "lack the incentive to push for creativity and innovation".

The VP and MENA business manager for corporate trust at BNY Mellon Corporate Trust in Dubai suggests that "sukuk would be the best way to mortgage homes in a Shari'ah-compliant fashion" using an asset-backed structure. I would tend to agree because so long as most of the mortgages are tradable (i.e. not based on murabaha), they could be securitized in a way similar to the Islamic Development Bank's sukuk al-istithmar. In the istithmar sukuk, the underlying assets are other financing contracts (in the case of the IDB sukuk, they are murabaha, istisna'a and ijara). The sukuk is tradable so long as the proportion of ijara contracts (by value) is more than one-half of the total assets. The reason for this is that murabaha and istisna'a contracts create a debt obligation (the financier holds a receivable for future payment), whereas an ijara contract provides the financier with ownership of an asset.

Kazakhstan is planning to issue $500 million in sovereign sukuk, in part to try and make the country the "Islamic finance hub" for the former Soviet Union. The government of Abu Dhabi-owned Al Hilal Bank opened the first Islamic bank in the country earlier this year. The CEO of the Kazakhstan branch of Al Hilal Bank, Prasad Abraham, tempers the expectation saying that issuance could start at just $200 million this year but rising to as much as $3 billion per year by 2015. The sukuk is replacing a cancelled $750 million Eurobond, which Bruce Gaston, the CEO of Skybridge Finance, says will cost the government up to 150 basis points m more compared to the Eurobond.

Other News
  • Kuwait Finance House Research estimates that global sukuk issuance in 2010 will reach $30 billion. The first half issuance was $16.5 billion.
  • Al Baraka Banking Group plans to raise $200 million through its first sukuk issuance by the end of 2010. Al Baraka also signed a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). ICD is part of the Islamic Development Bank group.
  • Gulf Finance House is planning to increase its capital by $300 million but did not specify how it plans to raise that capital.
  • Dubai may issue debt in 2010, but it is "not under pressure to do anything".
  • Bahrain Financial Harbour raised $240 million through a 7-year ijara facility to repay debt.
  • The Al Rajhi Bank-Cagamas cooperation may only be the first effort to bridge the divide--particularly in Shari'ah standards--between the GCC and Malaysia. While much of the news concerns the Shari'ah standards, there are other areas where harmonization of standards becomes difficult. Megat Hizaini Hassan, the head of Islamic banking & finance at Zaid Ibrahim, is quoted saying: "In the Middle East, in certain jurisdictions [Islamic finance] is not even regulated so how can you harmonise?".


Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work bra.

lency said...

In a growing industry such as Islamic finance, the ability to release capital on bank balance sheets to security checks as a form of additional capital to pay, while expanding the number of sukuk to investors seeking funding Islamic.Great work!
islamic banking courses