Parallel market good for industry

One of the sessions at the Global Islamic Finance Forum (GIFF) yesterday had discussed whether there was a need for a separate Islamic capital market given the robustness of the global Islamic finance sector.

The industry is certainly booming as more countries such as Japan, China and India are becoming more open to the idea of raising funds via the issuance of sukuks and other Islamic financial instruments.

In reality, however, creating a separate Islamic capital market would be impractical when vibrant and established conventional marketsthere already existed.

Creating parallel Islamic financial markets that co-exist with the conventional markets is the way to go.

Malaysia, Bahrain, Brunei, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have very strong parallel Islamic financial markets.

More than half the bonds issued in Malaysia in the past two years are Islamic and the momentum is picking up.

The fact is Malaysia is a good role model for countries interested in developing Islamic finance.

The country has moved swiftly to liberalise its market, allowing conventional banks to create Islamic finance units and allowing foreign Islamic banks to operate here.

Malaysia has not just the infrastructure but also the legislation in place.

Although the harmonisation of syariah principles is a global issue, Malaysia has made significant progress and today Malaysian issuers create products that the market demands.

The whole journey had been one of adapting quickly to changes. Since early this year, there have been a flurry of announcements to further liberalise the sector.

Malaysia means business and welcomes competition because it knows too well that money has no loyalty, as it would search for the best returns. The country’s neighbours would do anything to get the foreign money into their markets.

There is no denying that Malaysia lost out to Singapore in its bid to become a regional conventional banking hub, but this time around the country seems to be moving in a coordinated fashion to maintain its leadership position in the Islamic finance world.

Bank Negara and the Government deserve a pat on the back for a job well done to strengthen and deepen the Islamic finance market. Scale and profitability is crucial and Malaysia realises that it is better to have 1% of the global market than remain in control of a very small market.

But more needs to be done. Since the GIFF attracted a lot of foreigners, it is time to seize the moment by showcasing to them what the real investment opportunities are. One great investment opportunities is the Iskandar Development Region. It is crucial, therefore, to sustain the interest and create the right products to ensure that Middle Eastern funds find a good home.

And Malaysia’s parallel Islamic capital market with its depth and breadth of activities is the best platform to facilitate its development initiatives under the Malaysian Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) agenda.

Any party from anywhere in the world can explore opportunities by using the MIFC to raise funds for the development needs in their respective countries. The beauty of the parallel market is that it has scale, something a separate market would not have.

Things are certainly moving in the right direction for the Malaysian Islamic finance sector and it is creating a lot of wealth, thanks to the Government. But if the Government were to put in the same amount of effort and dedication to develop other sectors of the country, just imagine how the country and its people would benefit in the long term.
source : the star

Islamic Banking: a brief historical perspective

 

Dealing in interest may be prohibited by religion but, contrary to what many many suppose, Islamic Banking is a relatively recent phenomenon having developed over the past 50 years. Modern banking reached Muslim countries at the end of 19th century and early 20th century, primarily through European trading companies which engaged in trade with Muslim merchants and their enterprises. They required banking facilities in Muslim countries to provide the medium for exchange (money!) for trading transactions. Although Muslim traders avoided the use of “foreign banks” for religious and sometime nationalistic reasons, growth of trade did, in time, require them to maintain current accounts and use bank transfers systems. Borrowing and saving with a bank continued to be avoided in order that there was no dealing in interest.

The issue of interest free banking came to the attention of Muslim Intellectuals in the 1940’s and 1950’s. By this time economic and financial influences had produced a number of local and national banks established along the lines of interest based foreign banks. They had started to bring the banking system and its services to the local population. By this time Governments of Muslim countries, particularly those, which gained political independence, had of necessity to engage in international financial transactions using banking systems. The requirement for commercial banking was recognised. The challenge was to avoid the concept of interest within commercial banking. The route to this was the development of the concept of profit and loss sharing (Mudarabha), the key concept from which the structure of most Islamic Banking products and services are derived.

 

The 1960’s and 1970’s provided the political background and platform by which to attract the attention of Muslim Governmental and National Financial Institutions. Through a number of high profile conferences, where the theory of Islamic Banking was brought to practical application the Islamic Development Bank, an inter-governmental bank was established on strictly interest free banking principles was established, applying the concept of profit and loss sharing to its transactions and activities.

The first interest-free bank, the Dubai Islamic Bank was established in 1975. .A few others followed in Sudan, Egypt and Kuwait in the late 1970’s.Apparently a number of earlier interest free banking ventures were initiated in the 1940’s/50’s and 60’s in a number of Muslim countries but they did not survive or did not survive in strictly Islamic Banking form. Most private Islamic Banking have been established in Muslim countries. However, a number have been established in western Europe and, indeed, a number of well know international banks, such as Citicorp and HSBC have seen the opportunities for the development and provision of Islamic Banking products through selected subsidiaries and branches.

In most countries the establishment of “interest free” banking has been through private initiatives and were confined to that bank. However, in Iran and Pakistan it was lead by government initiative. Outside Pakistan and Iran there are in excess of 50 interest free banks including a number in Western Europe

In Pakistan since 1981 all domestic commercial banks have been permitted to accept deposits on the basis of Profit and Loss Share (PLS). In 1985 the banking system was transformed to between January and July of that year. From July 1985 no banks were able to accept any interest bearing deposits and all existing deposits became subject to PLS rules, though some (few) operations were allowed to continue on the old basis.

source :

By:

Bob McDowallITdirector.com

Thirty Years of Islamic Banking: History, Performance and Prospects

Author : Professor Munawar Iqbal, Philip Molyneux

Publisher : Palgrave MacMillan

Review
This text explains how Islamic banking works and what it offers as an alternative model of financial intermediation. Important questions addressed include: Why Islamic banking started and where it is going; who the main players are at present and whom it will attract in future; what its strengths and weaknesses

Islamic Banking: Theory, Practice and Challenges

Author : Fuad Al-Omar, Mohammed Abdel-Haq

ISBN: 185649344X
ISBN-13: 9781856493444

About the book
Islamic Banking: Theory, Practice and Challenges more books like this

by Fuad Al-Omar, Mohammed Abdel-Haq

TOC
1. Framework of Islamic Finance
2. Oerview of Islamic Banking
3. Al-Baraka International Bank Ltd: The Experience of an Islamic Bank in England
4. The Jordan Islamic Bank for Finance and Investment: The Experience of an Islamic Bank in Jordan.
5. Special Finance Houses in Turkey
6. Islamic Banking in Malaysia
7. Derivatives, and the Challenges in the Development of Islamic Secondary Market Instruments: The Experience of the IDB
8. Islamic Banking in Pakistan
9. Comparative Analysis of the Financial Statements of Islamic and non-Islamic Banks
10. The Challenges Faced by Islamic Banks
11. Important Considerations before Engaging in Islamic Transactions.
12. Conclusions and Recommendations

islam has a very specific approach to commercial transactions, the law of contract, interest charges, indeed to the very nature of property. For financial institutions operating in an Islamic environment, or seeking to meet the requirements of communities committed to Islamic law, this poses a variety of problems. This important book investigates how such a challenge can be met in practice.

The authors investigate the way Islamic banks work within different economic, financial, social, legal and religious environments. They take the reader through the basic principles involved, the issues that arise, and the difficulties that are often encountered.

Drawing on detailed studies of Islamic banking in London, Jordan, Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan, they provide an understanding of how complex Islamic concepts impact upon the use of financial instruments, commercial priorities and services. Relationships with central banks, comparative analysis of financial statements and the role of Islamic banking in a development context are also covered.

Islamic Banking will be essential reading to all those involved in the setting up and running of Islamic banking units in western countries, and a key resource for students of economics in the international arena.

Human Resource in Islamic Banks

images23Strong recovery in the financial services sector in general usually means a concomitant hiring of more banking staff because of the increased business generated. The latest joint Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey launched in London today concludes that financial services firms have recovered from a sharp summer dip and enjoyed a strong growth in business volumes in the last quarter of 2006, “accompanied by a surprise record rate of employment growth.”
The survey forecasts financial services sector profitability to grow in the first quarter of 2007 and beyond, thanks to stronger projected income generation, and as a result, envisages a “further but more modest increase in employment.”
However, recruitment bosses in London believe that this growth in profitability may not be as good as in 2006. As such, hiring of banking staff will be more selective in American banks in particular, such as Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, because of a greater concentration on debt and derivative business. However, hiring is focused more on traders, although, not as aggressively as last year.
While recruitment in the conventional banking sector is not difficult because of a well-oiled assembly line of human resource capital churned out by universities and actuarial, accounting, legal and other such professional bodies, and the existence of highly-efficient head-hunting firms, in the Islamic banking sector the story is almost totally the reverse. A study in December 2006 by US consultants AT Kearney warned that the strong growth in the global Islamic banking and finance sector means that the current shortage of qualified personnel working in the sector will be exacerbated. The study concluded that with the Islamic banking and finance sector estimated to grow between 15 percent to 20 percent a year in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, some 30,000 new jobs in the sector will have to be filled in the region alone within the next decade.
The growth of Islamic banking in the UAE is on a sharp upward curve.
With three new Islamic banks being launched in the UAE — the AED3.6 billion capital Al-Noor Islamic Bank, Injazat Bank — an investment bank subsidiary of Gulf Finance House and the conversion of Dubai Bank into an Islamic bank — bring the total number of dedicated Islamic banks in the UAE to six.
Bankers in Dubai stressed that there is a big actual and latent demand for Islamic banking products and services in the UAE and the rest of the GCC countries. This in addition to the Islamic banking activities of conventional banks and investment companies.
Growth figures and demand dynamics of course vary from country to country and even from institution to institution. Some banks, including Arcapita Bank in Bahrain, reported a staggering 30 percent increase in business and balance sheet.
With oil prices continuing to hold and liquidity at record levels, demand for basic and more sophisticated investment portfolios is inevitably increasing. The good news for the Islamic finance sector is that an increasing flow of this liquidity is finding a home in the Shariah-compliant financial services sector. However, this sharp growth has not been met with developing the required human capital base. That is why there is a huge turnover of staff at Islamic banks. Staff are still largely recruited from the conventional sector. This is bound to undermine the stated vision of some Islamic financial institutions to shift the focus from Shariah-compliant products and services to Shariah-based ones.
Many so-called Islamic bankers or those working in the sector still have a psychological barrier in overcoming thinking in a non-riba (non-interest) paradigm, because riba is the basis and ethos of conventional banking. That is why they opt for the easiest solution — trying to “Islamize” conventional products.
The more important problem is that the flow of the new generation of Islamic bankers with a proper training in Fiqh Al-Muamalat (Islamic law relating to financial transactions) is at best very limited. Universities in Muslim countries have neglected in general, courses and expertise in economics, accountancy, finance and banking, especially based on Islamic principles. Very often, the standard of education is very ordinary and too narrow, which means graduates are unemployable because they lack the necessary wider education and skills.
Take education in Shariah studies. Economics, finance, financial and commercial law once again are studied in passing rather than specializations. A question that is often asked is “Why do so few Shariah scholars end up as bankers, when so many conventional lawyers do become bankers?”
Of course there are notable exceptions such as the International Islamic University in Malaysia and one or two others. But these are too few and far between. The Islamic finance sector has too conveniently relied on the conventional sector to staff it rather than investing in the long-term development of their human capital.
There are some signs that things are starting to change. The Central Bank of Bahrain last year set up a fund to train and educate those interested in Islamic banking. Malaysia once again has had a headstart. Bank Islam Malaysia, the flagship Islamic bank of the country, may have had its problems in 2006, but since its inception in 1983, it has acquired the enviable sobriquet of being the human resources hothouse of Malaysian Islamic banking. Many of the current young generation of Islamic bankers inevitably would have started out at Bank Islam. However, with the establishment of the Financial Sector Master Plan and the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Sector (MIFC), the Badawi government is investing heavily in developing Islamic finance human capital. The Malaysian government aims to make the country the “Center of Excellence” in Islamic finance education, training, consultancy and research.
Bank Negara Malaysia, the central bank, has established the RM500 million International Center for Education in Islamic Finance aimed at promoting human capital development for the global Islamic finance industry, developing superior talents and best practice for the sector, supplying top researchers and educators for the sector, and offering internationally-recognized professional certification and post-graduate programs in Islamic finance education. These initiatives are unparalleled in the Islamic and emerging markets.
Mushtaq Parker

The Cass Business School launched first EMBA in Islamic Finance and Engergy

images21The Cass Business School is one of the leading university in United Kingdom launched their Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) in Islamic Finance and Engergy. The programme was launched in association with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the EMBA will be the world’s first MBA programme offering specialist streams in Islamic Finance and Energy. The new programme will be taught over 24 months and will involve the same content as Cass’s London-based Executive MBA, one of the highest ranked EMBAs in the world by the Financial Times. The first intake of students is planned for September 2007

Ibn Taimiyah and Islamic Economics

10084177Muslim countries who are considering to Islamize their economic activities are turning to some of the best and experienced brains of the past, for inspiration and guidance. While considering the subject, I have now chosen to write about Ibn Taimiyah to give my views to the readers of my treatise.

The Holy Quran was revealed some over 1400 years ago and its revelation has received acclamation and acceptance in many Muslim countries today. History tells us that last third of the seventh and first quarter of the century after Hijra — Ibn Taimiyah had a firm grasp of the achievements of Islamic scholarship that preceded him. Although he followed the footsteps of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, the last founders of the four main schools of thought, Ibn Taimiyah had enough independence of mind and vision to draw upon other schools and scholars to arrive at his own opinion on a given matter. This gave him a status above of all other schools and of all the scholars and jurists who followed him meticulously. There is no doubt that Ibn Taimiyah remains unsurpassed in the comprehensiveness of his works and clarity of his vision on what constitutes Islamic way of life or Islamic living.

History will tell us that Ibn Taimiyah was a teacher, and circumstances forced him to put on a soldier’s uniform as they also pushed him into controversy and polemics. Ibn Taimiyah was born in an age of turmoil. The decay in Islamic society had already set in with all that it implied by way of stultification of creative thinking on law and society. His Fatawa reflect the nature of races and cultures and the fast changing political conditions that were creating a new scenario in trade and commerce, agriculture and industry. People were entering into new types of contracts and social relations were becoming increasingly more complex. With his intellectual roots having been secured in Shariah Law, Ibn Taimiyah answered many queries emanating from those complex situations with rare understanding and sympathy. Some examples are reproduced as hereunder:

Fatawa, Vol. 30 at P.311 is the authority for the proposition that, if due to migration of people in an area, the number of customers having declined due to fear or decay, or because the political authority shifts people elsewhere, or due to other reasons, then the rent due from the person hiring the premises will be decreased in proportion to the decrease in the conventionally expected benefits.

The borrower is obliged to repay the lender in the country in which he contracted the loan. He should not place the burden of traveling of lender to realize the loan. If the borrower says that “I will not repay you except in a different country” then he would be liable to defray, according to conventional standards, any cost incurred by the lender (in traveling and transporting). Fatawa, Vol.29 at P.530.

Yet there was another question so posed to Ibn Taimaiyah about a man lending more dirhams to another man to repay to him in another country and whether it was permissible for him to do so or not. In answer to this question Ibn Taimaiyah replied that it is permissible because the lender seeks the benefit of security in transporting his dirhams to that country. How the borrower too would have been benefited from repaying it in that country, being saved from the risks involved in the passage. Hence there are benefits to both of them in this transaction. It is clear that Law – giver did not prohibit what benefits them all. He prohibited only what hurts them. Fatawa, Vol.29 at P.530-1.

Fulus – In those days Fulus was extensively used to mean copper coin which used to be bought for cash paid on the spot and sold for credit at a higher price, and the question was whether this was permissible or not. Ibn Taimaiyah replied; “All praise be to Allah on this matter – of exchange of current copper coins with dirhams (of silvers) — there is a well-known controversy among scholars”.

The more authentic opinion is to prohibit it as the copper coins, when they have gained currency, take on the same position as the money proper and become a standard of value for people’s wealth. Fatawa, Vol.29 at P.468-469.

As a matter of fact, what contemporary Islam needs most with respect to the economy is a clear vision of what is desired and how can it be brought about. A perusal of the book will demonstrate how clear Ibn Taimiyah was on both these issues. He was off the opinion that the Muslims need a well provisioned society from which poverty is vanished and welfare is ensured for all. The way to realize this objective is freedom of enterprise and property, constrained by moral laws and supervised by a just State enforced by the Divine Laws i.e. the Shariah.

Therefore, those who seek a just regime must be ready and willing to enforce the Shariah, the whole of it. In so doing the authorities will be frequently called upon to apply the principles of Shariah to new areas arising from changing circumstances, especially in economic affairs. This is where the jurist faces the real challenge; not to lose sight of the real purpose of law — justice and human felicity — while applying his legal principles to new situations. Ibn Taimiyah met this challenge with rare competence and therein lies his message to the present generation of Muslim jurists and economists.

On the economic field, Ibn Taimiyah’s vision was not narrow in fact it was clear and filled with wisdom. According to him all economic activities are permissible in Islam except those prohibited by the Shariah. So everybody was allowed to have their avocation with the limit set by Shariah, because a person knew that if he did something of which he was prohibited in Shariah, he would refrain from doing so. What was good for them and the people they were allowed freely to make transactions, enter into contracts and conduct their worldly affairs in a just and fair manner observing the standard of fairness set by ‘urf and adah’. Here I must make clear the meaning of ‘urf and adah’ for the better understanding of my readers. ‘Urf’ meaning conventions and ‘adah’ meant customs. The Shariah intervenes only to ensure justice in human relations and to direct individual action to what was good for all. It sought to eliminate Zulm (injustice and oppression) from social relations. Riba (excess interest) and Qimar (gambling) were prohibited under Shariah Law. The essence of unilateral gains i.e. taking an increment without a quid was considered as unilateral gain. Fatawa, Vol. 20 at P.341.

Acquisition of another person’s property without a quid pro quo was also not permissible, because it was incumbent on the purchaser to pay the right price for the property he is buying and the seller to restore the property exactly of the value he has received. To be meaningful both the parties should base their agreement on adequate knowledge of what is involved in the contract. Nobody should take any advantage by coercion or deceptions or for that matter take advantage of dire circumstances or ignorance of a contracting party. When the contracting parties adhere to these rules, the resulting marketing prices are just and fair, provided there is no withholding of supplies with a view to raising prices. Normally State would not intervene in the free market economy or price or profits, wages etc. which was to be determined by the law of demand and supply. But a State’s intervention is called for when some of the above conditions are violated. As and when public authority did intervene it was guided by expert advice and sought to approximate the price of similar goods or services which was to be determined fairly.

Source: The New Nation

By: Tamizul Haque

 

Islamic Financing Spreads in the Middle East

United Kingdom: Islamic Financing Spreads in the Middle East
A Q & A with White & Case´s Craig Nethercott, Mohammed Al-Sheikh and Christopher

In early March, Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemicals wrapped up financing arrangements for a $9.9 billion petrochemical plant in the coastal city of Rabigh, marking the largest project financing to date in Saudi Arabia. Just as significantly, the funding package also included the largest-ever long-term Islamic finance tranche for any project financing in the Middle East.

But the Rabigh complex is only the latest project in the region to incorporate Islamic financing, underscoring the boom in the Islamic finance market. As ever-larger infrastructure development projects proliferate across the Middle East, Islamic financing is becoming an increasingly important component of the funding packages.

Craig Nethercott and Mohammed Al-Sheikh, co-heads of White & Case’s Islamic Finance practice, and Christopher Cross, one of the lead partners on the White & Case team that advised Saudi Aramco on the Rabigh plant financing, share their views on the factors driving the growth of Islamic financing and the outlook for the future.

Q: The Rabigh petrochemical project included the largest long-term Islamic project financing to date in the Middle East. How significant a development is this?

Craig Nethercott: The deal is significant in a number of respects. It’s the first time, to my knowledge, that a significant long-tenor Islamic tranche has participated in a multi-sourced financing in Saudi Arabia – where the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence is followed.

Traditionally, Islamic finance institutions have been concerned with the pricing and tenor of the big sponsor project financings. The Islamic tranche also saw the participation of Bank Al Bilad – a newly-established Islamic institution – and the Islamic Development Bank. Both institutions delivered incremental additional lending capacity to the project.

Christopher Cross: Given the success to date and the profile that the Islamic institutions have earned, we would also expect to see these institutions develop other financial instruments over the next few years to manage their significant positions in deals such as Rabigh. So, while project financings are a real spur to activity, other products and opportunities will result.

Q: Aside from Rabigh, what other recent major project financings have included an Islamic tranche, and can we expect more to come?

Mohammed Al-Sheikh: To name but two, the financings for a roughly $2.4 billion aluminum smelter complex in Sohar, in Oman, and the groundbreaking Qatargas II LNG project each contained significant Islamic finance participation.

The Sohar structure contained the first project finance Islamic facility in Oman, while at the time it closed, in late 2004, the Qatargas II financing was not only the largest long-term Islamic project financing but also the first for either Qatar Petroleum or ExxonMobil, the sponsors of the project.

On the basis of recent activity and market appetite, we can certainly expect more of the same, with the only change being that the average size of such Islamic facilities is likely to become larger.

Craig Nethercott: The key to growth of Islamic finance participation in significant projects will be the development of products to allow institutions to more easily digest the long tenor deals. Also, I would expect to see greater interest in transactions when pricing recovers – pricing on the mega-deals in the Middle East is currently at historically low levels. At such low levels, it’s difficult for some institutions to participate. Historically – with few exceptions – there has been very little cross-border Islamic lending. Qatari institutions have participated in Qatari transactions and UAE-based institutions have participated in UAE transactions. I would expect to see more cross-border activity in the future.

Q: Why has the use of Islamic finance rocketed in recent years?

Christopher Cross: Growth in Islamic financing is being driven by a number of factors. General consumer demand for Sharī’a-compliant financial services and products, both at a retail and institutional level, is growing rapidly. In addition, sustained high oil prices have further increased the impact of oil wealth in the Gulf region and increased demand for suitable investment vehicles.

Furthermore, virtually every Gulf economy is investing in upgrading its natural resource development and industrial infrastructure, usually using project finance structures to fund the investment. The cost of these projects often numbers several billion dollars, and now that Islamic financing components in these project financing structures have become familiar to the market, they are growing rapidly in size.

On the financial institution side, the growth of available liquidity in the Gulf region has supported the creation of more regional Islamic lending capacity. Craig pointed out several examples earlier. In addition, a number of international lending institutions have seen real benefits in expanding into Islamic lending – and this allows them to increase their participation, alongside their commercial tranche, in mega-projects. Rabigh is a recent example of this.

Q: With all this growth, are there any numbers tracking the proliferation of Islamic financial institutions?

Christopher Cross: Yes. As a matter of fact, according to a recent study by the International Monetary Fund there are now more than 300 Islamic finance institutions worldwide – compared with only one in 1975 – with assets estimated at more than $250 billion. These assets are estimated to be growing at more than 15 percent annually.

Q: Aside from what was been happening in the world of project finance, what have been the most recent significant developments in Islamic finance?

Mohammed Al-Sheikh: It’s hard to single out any one particular recent development as the most significant in Islamic financing. There are a number of recent innovations that reflect the growing maturity of the market. For example, Dow Jones Indexes and Citigroup recently announced that they’ll launch the first index to track the global performance of Islamic bonds, or sukuk. In fact, the sukuk recently launched by the Ports, Customs and Free Zones Corporation of Dubai, weighing in at a mighty $3.5 billion, shows just how far the market has come.

Christopher Cross: From a project finance perspective, we would expect to see an Islamic bond/sukuk tranche becoming an attractive feature of financing plans in the near term in the Middle East.

Q: Are any countries in particular leading the development of Islamic finance?

Craig Nethercott: It would be unfair to single out any country in particular as leading the development of Islamic finance. Certainly in the Middle East the Umm Al Naar and Shuweihat transactions in Abu Dhabi broke some significant ground in incorporating Islamic finance tranches in big projects. Each of the Qatargas II transaction in Qatar and the Sohar smelter transaction in Oman certainly benefited from some of the structures developed in the Abu Dhabi transactions. However, there is significant support throughout the Middle East for the development of Islamic finance participation in transactions. There is a deep well of funding available – countries throughout the Gulf have enormous, capital-intensive development plans – and Islamic finance is an obvious and popular resource to draw upon.

Q: White & Case recently announced the formal launch of an Islamic Finance unit. Why was this?

Mohammed Al-Sheikh: White & Case has been advising on Islamic financing issues for years, but as an institution we hadn’t formalized these capabilities to the outside world, and we made the decision to do so, given the rapidly increasing interest in Islamic finance that we’ve seen across our client base. We wanted to provide a clearer picture of what we do to both current and future clients. With a team comprising twenty-five lawyers throughout our global network of offices, primarily based in our London, New York, Paris, Riyadh and Washington, D.C., offices and drawn from our asset finance, banking, capital markets, corporate and project finance practice groups, we think we’ve got most bases covered.

Craig Nethercott and Christopher Cross are, respectively, London- and New York-based partners in White & Case’s global Energy, Infrastructure and Project Finance practice.

Craig Nethercott has worked on a variety of project finance, banking and trade finance transactions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in the oil and gas, mining, energy and infrastructure sectors. He was previously resident for White & Case in Saudi Arabia for over a year and a half, where he was involved in project finance, Sharī’a and corporate transactions.

Christopher Cross has worked on a wide range of commercial, joint venture, merger and acquisition and project financing transactions in the Middle East, Europe, the United States and South America, concentrating on the oil and gas, energy, infrastructure, and transportation sectors.

Mohammed Al-Sheikh heads White & Case’s Riyadh office through the Firm’s association with the Law Office of Mohammed Al-Sheikh. He is engaged in general corporate practice and concentrates in particular on international commercial and financial transactions, including privatization, telecommunications, project finance, energy and cross-border projects. He joined White & Case from the World Bank.

Craig Nethercott and Mohammed Al-Sheikh are also co-heads of White & Case’s Islamic Finance unit

source : mondaq