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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Thailand Plans First Islamic Bonds to Tap Arab Wealth


By Suttinee Yuvejwattana

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand plans to raise $600 million from its first sale of Islamic bonds as it seeks to attract funds from the Middle East to pay for public works.

``We want to tap petrodollars as Middle East countries have lots of money,'' Dheerasak Suwannayos, president of the state- owned Islamic Bank of Thailand, told reporters in Bangkok today.

Islamic Bank plans to sell seven-year Islamic bonds in the third quarter of 2009, Suwannayos said. State companies will use money raised from the securities, known as sukuk, to help finance their projects.

Thailand aims to join Hong Kong, the U.K., Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan in setting up an Islamic bond market to attract Persian Gulf oil wealth. The Thai government has said it plans to spend about $50 billion in the next four years on transport, roads and other infrastructure works to help spur economic growth.

Sukuk are based on assets and pay a profit rate to investors instead of interest, which is banned by Muslim Shariah law. Thailand's sukuk will pay a profit rate of about 75 basis points below the London interbank offered rate, Suwannayos said.

A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

The Islamic financial market may triple in size to $2.8 trillion by 2015, the Kuala Lumpur-based Islamic Financial Services Board estimates. Borrowers sold $12.4 billion of sukuk this year after raising a record $30.8 billion from the securities last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Islamic Bank of Thailand is the nation's only commercial bank that complies with Shariah.

Related link on Islamic finance: www.globalpro.com.my

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