Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Shari'ah scholar licensing, IIT sukuk, Islamic indices

Bloomberg has a more detailed article about the planned Shari'ah scholar certification body, although the details are not yet fully described. I think this is a positive development because it will provide a way for newer or less recognized scholars to build credibility and become selected to be members of Shari'ah boards. This will increase the number of qualified scholars with experience that could be the biggest development to get around the well publicized lack of scholars that are selected to serve on Shari'ah boards. Currently, most Islamic financial institutions select the most recognizable Shari'ah scholars to gain credibility about the Shari'ah-compliance of their offerings. This has led to the top scholars being on many, many Shari'ah boards, which limits the amount of time they can devote to each. This could lead to less thorough review of each product than if the workload were spread across a larger number of scholars. Hopefully the ISRA proposal will move beyond the planning stage and on to become an organization that carries as much weight and recognition as AAOIFI or the IFSB.

There is an article in The Banker about Islamic indices, which have only been around since 1999 when Dow Jones launched their Islamic Finance World index. The article is interesting and notable because it mentions the absence of ETFs (not total absence; there are a few, but not many and most are very small). The Islamic funds industry has grown significantly in the past 10 years, so it seems that the ETF sector would be a natural area for growth as an alternative to actively-managed mutual funds.

The small sukuk ($10 million) from the International Innovative Technologies, which is the first UK-based company to issue a sukuk, is being heralded as the first of many from the UK and Europe. However, I think it is unlikely that this small sukuk, which was subscribed by one entity, Millenium Private Equity, will have that effect. The sukuk--a sukuk al-musharaka--came obout when an investor in IIT suggested Islamic finance as a way to finance the business. This (along its small size and status as a 'first') reminds me of the East Cameron sukuk, which was issued by the US-based wildcatter oil & gas firm with properties offshore Louisiana. While I am not predicting that the sukuk will end up the same way the East Cameron sukuk did (with the bankruptcy of the issuer), I do think that the idea that a small sukuk from a relatively unknown issuer can spark further issuance is overstated. It will take a larger, more well-known issuer to demonstrate that sukuk are the "real thing" to other potential issuers in the UK and Europe. That may happen in the near-term, but it will not make IIT the one that broke the market open. However, it is a start--albeit a small one--that will generate plenty of media attention that could make a sukuk from a better known issuer less surprising. It will be interesting to see what happens from here.

The secretary-general of AAOIFI, Dr. Mohamad Nedal Alchaar, has an opinion article in The National about the potential for France to develop its Islamic finance industry.

Other News
  • The current issue of Opalesque's Islamic Finance Intelligence has several interesting articles. One by Shahzad Siddiqui and Toby Birch discusses gold bullion and Islamic private equity. Mohammed Khnifer discusses what happens when sukuk default.  Nikan Firoozye discusses the structure of the consecutive or rolled murabaha. The full issue can be downloaded by clicking through to any of the articles.
  • South Korea may revive the bill to put sukuk on par with conventional bonds, after it was scuttled earlier this year.
  • According to an IMF report, the driving force behind the growth in the industry after 2000 was the rise in oil prices, not 9/11. I hope to post something on the report when I have a chance to read it.
  • The Thai Securities & Exchange Commission will issue rules for sukuk in October, according to the body's Secretary-General.
  • Kuwait Finance House-Turkey may issue $100 million more in five-year sukuk, after its first issue in August, which was also the first sukuk issued in Turkey. The government of Turkey may consider issuing sukuk "in the future" according to the Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek.
  • The Central Bank of Bahrain's Sukuk al-Salam was oversubscribed with BD73.5 million ($195 million) in subscriptions for the BD12 million ($31.5 million) issue. The return on the three month securities will be 0.69%.
  • DIFC Investments will make a scheduled $2.88 million periodic payment on its $1.25 billion sukuk on time, according to a statement posted on NASDAQ Dubai.
  • A paper in South Africa discusses the basics of Islamic banking.
  • Malaysia issued four takaful licenses, primarily to foreign companies as it liberalizes its financial sector in a bid to attract more Islamic finance.
  • Islamic finance could exceed $2 trillion in the next three-to-five years.

1 comment:

islamic finance courses said...

It will take a bigger and transmitter known to show that sukuk are true to other potential issuers in the United Kingdom and Europe. This can happen in the near future, but it will not IIT the one who broke open market.