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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Islamic finance industry trends to be studied

(Gulf daily News, 29 April 2008)

MANAMA: Trends, opportunities and the future direction of the global Islamic finance industry will be highlighted at a strategic briefing being organised by the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM).
The exclusive session, for senior executives of Islamic financial institutions, will also feature IIFM's Master Agreement for Treasury Placement (MATP), a benchmark document, which will be the world's first standardised Islamic finance contract when it comes to market in the near future.
Industry leaders attending the session, at Sheraton Hotel on May 8, will also be briefed about progress on two other benchmark initiatives being developed by the IIFM.
The event will be held under the patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB).
"The CBB is delighted to support IIFM's ground-breaking initiatives, which will serve the Islamic banking and finance industry worldwide," said CBB executive director banking supervision and IIFM chairman Khalid Hamad.
Uniformity of documentation and products as well as harmonisation of market practices across geographic borders is a critical challenge, which the IIFM is addressing in partnership with market players from around the world, he said.
"The upcoming session is aimed at the industry's key market participants, who are either involved in IIFM projects through its working groups or those institutions with business activities relating to IIFM initiatives," said IIFM chief executive officer Ijlal Alvi.
The briefing session will open with a presentation on the prospects of the global industry for Islamic finance, as well as trends and opportunities by Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) chief economist and head of research Baljeet Grewal.
The other panelists include senior executives from UBS, Linklaters, Clifford Chance, Standard Chartered, Al Salam Bank, Al Baraka Banking Group, United International Bank, Ernst & Young, JP Morgan, ABC Islamic Bank and prominent Sharia scholars, who are actively involved in driving IIFM's various initiatives.
A key highlight of the briefing session will be the MATP, which is in the final stages of review and which the IIFM expects to unveil in due course.
The MATP will significantly help the Islamic banking industry's commodity Murabaha transactions, which form the bulk of Islamic money market transactions.
Leading international legal firm Clifford Chance is the legal counsel for the project.
"We are delighted to be working with the IIFM on this important and exciting initiative. Together with the market participants the objective is to work towards standardised documents that can be adopted by all financial institutions, both Islamic and conventional, thereby enhancing the cost, time and operational efficiencies of Shari'a compliant deposit arrangements being effected," said Clifford Chance Islamic finance head Qudeer Latif.
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