Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Int'l Islamic Liquidity Management Corp to issue $200 to $300 million product this year

Bernama released an article based on an interview with CEO Mahmoud AbuShamma of the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM), which was established in October 2010 (and launched at the beginning of 2011). The IILM was established to provide short-term sukuk to global Islamic financial institutions for use in their liquidity management. Currently most Islamic financial institutions hold excesses of cash and use inter-bank murabaha (mostly) to manage their liquidity needs. Some countries (e.g. Malaysia, Bahrain and the UAE) have set up their own local currency denominated short-term instruments and all have seen strong uptake. However, there has not been any short-term sukuk issued by any institutions that are denominated in the global reserve currencies like the US dollar and are backed by supranational institutions.

The IILM has been quite mum about its own product and it remains largely unspoken now, but there were a few new pieces included in the article. The IILM now is hoping ("if all the systems have been put in place and the infrastructure is ready and the market conditions are suitable for the issuance"--a lot of 'ifs') to issue the first short-term sukuk denominated in US dollars for $200-$300 million by year end 2011. After the inaugural issuance, further sukuk will be issued "when needed by the market" and the IILM will consider issuance in other (local) currencies "depending on the requirements of the market" according to Bernama. The local currencies would presumably be those currencies that are used in the countries whose central banks are members of the IILM: Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey and the UAE.

While I describe the issuance as a "sukuk", the term is not used once in the entire article, instead describing it as "short-term liquidity products", which could mean the instruments will not be a tradable sukuk, but will instead be structured along the lines of other short-term products; Bahrain issues sukuk al-salam and sukuk al-ijara while the UAE Central Bank uses a commodity murabaha (as well as offering Islamic repo transactions using a commodity murabaha collateralized by the Islamic CDs that are themselves based on commodity murabaha).

There is still much work to be done and no certainty of issuance in 2011 given the careful hedging of the launch date by the IILM CEO (see the list of 'ifs' above). However, it is a step forward for the industry that this institution has come to form so quickly from its establishment (how long has an Islamic 'mega bank' been just over the horizon?) and the fact that the original idea for an institution similar to the IILM was "mooted by the Islamic Financial Services Board High Level Task Force" in the fall of 2008.

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