Islamic debt and capital markets is set for huge growth over the next few years. Sukuk origination and issuance, for instance, is now taking place in the EU, Japan, Singapore, US and even South Africa in addition to the phenomenal growth in the traditional markets of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and South East Asia especially in Malaysia. Similarly, Islamic securitization is also starting to take off in the GCC and Malaysia.
Judging by the spate of recent issuances and transactions, which are now involving major corporates such as SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation), SEC (Saudi Electricity Company), Dar Al-Arkan Real Estate Development Company, Emirates Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Khazanah Berhad (the investment arm of the Malaysian Finance ministry) and Cagamas Berhad (the Malaysian home loan company), the Sukuk and securitization market is set to flourish both in terms of geography, numbers and size.
In fact the Sukuk is now becoming an internationally acceptable Islamic capital markets instrument akin to the Murabaha and the Ijarah contracts. Sovereigns such as the UK Treasury and the Japanese Ministry of Finance are now seriously exploring the potential use of the Sukuk as a debt management tool in the wholesale sterling and yen markets. The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation have already issued to local currency papers in Malaysia.
The biggest potential is in the quasi-sovereign (utilities) and both rated and unrated corporate issuances, as companies and banks seek to raise finance to fund expansion, refinancing existing more expensive debt, or for general balance sheet purposes. Sukuk could also be an ideal financing tool for infrastructure development and project financing.
In light of this, a focused seminar on Islamic Capital Markets could not be more timely, especially to inform the market and to discuss issues relating to structures, Shariah governance, tax treatment, ratings, listings, floating or fixed rate issuances.