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Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Moody’s proves London must go for Islamic finance

By Frank Kane
on Wednesday, February 27 , 2008

If Alistair Darling, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, is harbouring any last minute doubts about whether or not to announce plans for the issue of “Islamic gilts” in his forthcoming budget, I suggest he takes a look at the report issued today by Moody’s, the credit rating firm with an enviable reputation for getting things right.

Moody’s says Islamic finance has enjoyed three consecutive years of growth at 15 per cent plus, and shows no sign of slowing.

In particular, the market for Islamic bonds – sukuk – is “phenomenal”, says the firm. The full report can be read elsewhere in this newspaper, but just a couple of figures should be plucked out to illustrate the dynamic growth taking place in Islamic finance.

The total market is worth $700 billion (Dh2.56trn) – a conservative value, according to some other estimates – and new issuance of sukuk last year rose 71 per cent to $32.65bn. Within this global analysis, the largest proportion of sukuk was issued by the financial services sector, followed by real estate, then power and utilities.

Geographically, most came from the Gulf and Malaysia.

Given the power of the sovereign wealth funds in this part of the world, that is not surprising, and Malaysia too with its large Muslim population should also figure high on any list of issuers.
But financial services, real estate and utilities are all areas where the City of London is proud of its world-class expertise, and London can also boast a track-record in financial innovation second to none.

After the Moody’s report, Darling should accelerate his plans to issue Islamic bonds in London. It would be a shame if Kuala Lumpur beat London to the prize in this dynamic, growing market.

71%
The new issuance of sukuk last year rose by this percentage to touch $32.65 billion.--(EmirateBiz)

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