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Friday, 17 August 2007

Islamic Finance Experts Group meeting on feasibility study into issuing Sovereign sukuk in UK

Kitty Ussher, City Minister, today hosted the first meeting of the Islamic Finance Experts Group. The Group was set up to act as an industry sounding board for HM Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) on Islamic Finance. The focus of today's meeting was the Government's feasiblity study into issuing sovereign sukuk. Speaking after the Islamic Finance meeting, Kitty Ussher, Economic Secretary to the Treasury said:"The UK is at the forefront of developments in Islamic Finance and London continues to seize new opportunities - two of the largest sukuk issuedin the first half of this year were listed in London. "The announcementof the feasibility study into the Government issuing sovereign sukuk hasgenerated a huge amount of interest and enthusiasm. Today, we discussedissuance options and parameters, and potential benefits for the City andretail investors. It was a very informative meeting and we shall continueto listen to a wide range of views before making a decision on whether toissue the first sterling sovereign sukuk."The Group had a detailed discussion on the feasibility study into the potential issue of sovereign sukuk. The discussion centred on the potential benefits forthe City and retail customers of the Government issuing sovereign sukuk. Theywere informed that the study would take into account the Government's debtmanagement policy, size and nature of potential demand, potential cost andrisk characteristics, implications for the Government's financing strategy,experiences of other sukuk issuers; and impact on the markets. The feasibility study was announced on 23 April and will report on progressat the time of the Pre-Budget Report 2007.The Group also discussed recent market developments and how the businessand Islamic community could continue to work togther in partnership to driveIslamic Finance forward in the UK.The Government's aims for Islamic Finance are:* to entrench London's position as a global gateway for Islamic Finance aspart of the city competitiveness agenda being pursued by the Chancellor'sHigh Level Group; and* to create a level playing field for alternative finance and investments,such as Islamic Finance, in the retail market. HM Treasury, the FSA and HMRevenue & Customs (HMRC) will together take forward this agenda and continue their strong and beneficial dialogue with the industry.

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