A positive future for sukuk is the real asset

At its inception in 2001 the market was worth less than $500 million (Dh1.83 billion) yet by 2007 the value of sukuk issued around the world was greater than $60bn.

Despite this, in 2008, the number of sukuk issued globally declined for the first time. Market commentators attribute this to a number of factors, including the global financial turbulence and resulting market conditions.

Additionally, the default by the Kuwaiti firm Investment Dar on a $100m sukuk and the headlines relating to Nakheel has possibly led to investor uncertainty regarding the treatment of sukuk in a default scenario.

In particular, recent events may have left investors nervous as to whether they have a claim over the assets underlying the issuance or not, and whether or not sukuk are more secure than conventional bonds because they are backed by tangible assets.

If there is a claim over the assets, investors could expect priority in realising their investment in a default scenario.

However, if this is not the case, investors would be unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy of a debtor.

This uncertainty may have arisen because a number of structural features are typically present in sukuk such that they are constructed on the foundations of tangible assets, for example, land, real estate or machinery and equipment.

However, have some investors been wrong in their belief that sukuk offer a more secure investment than conventional bonds?

To-date, the issuers of sukuk and the financial experts who assist in selling such securities have tried to meet the requirements of Sharia-compliant investors who have sought a similar fixed-income risk profile to a conventional bond. Those are usually based on the financial performance of a corporate entity with which they are familiar and in which they wish to invest.

In the majority of unsecured sukuk transactions the investors ultimately have no direct recourse to the assets themselves. The repayment of their investment is dependent on the exercise of a purchase undertaking by the seller of the assets at maturity or upon default. Thus, as with a conventional bond, the investors take credit risk on the seller who has granted the purchase undertaking.

Although typically there is a physical asset in the structure, it is present primarily to generate periodic profit payments, not to enhance the credit quality of the deal or provide investors with recourse to the assets upon a default.

As a result, offering documents prepared for most sukuk transactions have very little disclosure (if any) in respect of the physical asset; instead, disclosure focuses principally on the balance sheet and business and risks of the seller.

While Sharia principles do require a transfer of control and risk (as well as reward) in relation to an asset from the seller to the investors, the actual analysis of whether a transfer of the asset is perfected and immune from the bankruptcy of the seller (a typical feature of conventional, asset-backed securitisation) has not been a necessary feature of sukuk.

So what alternative Sharia-compliant structures exist for an investor who wishes exposure to asset-risk and to have direct recourse to those assets?

One conventional product that has attracted a great deal of attention over the past few years has been asset-backed securitisation. One of the cornerstones of the majority of conventional asset-backed securitisation transactions is a true-sale of assets. In order for the instruments ultimately evidencing an investment in an asset-backed transaction to achieve the appropriate credit rating, the transfer or sale of assets needs to be a sale which would survive the insolvency of the original owner (ie the assets are isolated from the bankrupt estate of the seller).

This is only achievable to the extent that the transfer represents a true transfer of ownership which is legally perfected.

While Sharia principles seem harmonious with the nature of asset-backed securitisation, for securitisation to become more mainstream in the GCC, three prerequisites will be required: firstly, investors will need to demonstrate a commercial desire to take the risk (and reward) associated with the true sale of assets in an asset-backed structure, including the management of those assets in a default scenario; secondly, those companies seeking finance will need to demonstrate a desire to sell their assets (which will have accounting and shareholder equity implications); and thirdly, a robust legal framework will need to evolve as bankruptcy and asset-selling laws in many jurisdictions in the GCC remain opaque and militate against securitisation structures.

In conclusion, the outlook for the sukuk market remains positive, with Standard & Poor’s indicating that the total amount of sukuk issued or being talked about in the market is estimated to be $50bn.

The global financial turbulence has resulted in a number of high-profile defaults, and this has generated a timely debate by market participants as to the nature of investors’ recourse to the underlying assets (if any).

In turn, this will inevitably result in a better understanding by investors, bankers, originators and lawyers alike of what the consequences of a default are, leading to further innovation and development of existing sukuk structures and the further evolution of Islamic debt structures.

source : the national

Islam Banking, to conquer the banking

The Islamic banking system is still in process of growth and at a rate faster than the conventional sector.  By now handle about 250,000 million in deposits and investments among all the institutions that follow the model.  The share of annual increase is 20%.

Dr. Faisal Al Khatib, has his office in the best neighborhood of Damascus, Malky.  Part of the Kuwaiti company Al Shall and is responsible for the implementation of the first Islamic bank in Syria.

Besides ideologue, Dr. Al Khatib also has a 2% of the hundred million dollars issued by the bank in form of equity. “When something is implanted because I believe in it and therefore I invest my own capital,” says.

It is not a religious project

Impeccably dressed, with a next-generation handheld and a diploma from a U.S. university hanging in the office, wants to clarify from the outset that the Cham Bank “is not a religious project, is another business.  Among the many customers who come for the values we defend, but others choose us because we offer greater advantages than others. ”

All people, not just Muslims, can be clients of such entities that are also operational in Europe and America, where several companies offer one-stop Islamic or Islamic-compliant products.

Regulated by the Shariah

Although his ideologue repeat that Syria is not a religious project, this banking system is governed by the Shariah, or Islamic law, derived from the teachings of the Koran.  Each entity has its own religious committee which decides from the internal rules of operation to investment in the company.  An Islamic bank I could never participate in companies operating in the fields of insurance, alcoholic beverages and snuff, betting, gambling, pork and weapons.  The employees, meanwhile, must comply with Islamic dress code and respect the ‘hijab’.  Something is not required to clients, although in some countries they can not go to deposit money without being accompanied by the husband.

The Shariah is the seed of the system, but it all depends on the interpretation that each committee made of it, since the model is not unique and cultural differences between countries are to vary the rules adopted by the ‘sharia committees ‘.  It will not be the same bank in Syria in Saudi Arabia, “explained Dr. Al Khatib.

Zero Interest

Usury, interest, are words that do not exist in its foundations.  In the Koran it is an undeserved gain and therefore prohibited.  The bank has a commercial side of the capitalist system similar to (offices, ATMs, telephone banking investor …), and another wing which is where its proponents speak of “differential fact” and base the operation of a business since the they can not sell money or time, even adjusting for inflation, is only allowed to sell products.

Khaled Darwish is an economic analyst at the Al-Jazeera channel and is in Damascus following the launch of the Cham Bank.  Rate the Islamic system of “financial revolution” and says that in the coming months at least two such banks will open in Syria

Soon will be important in the European market.

This is the classic pattern vary and add to the Islamic principles. Thus, for example, if a customer wants a car (personal loans), or an apartment (mortgage), what the bank is buying 100% directly to seller at a beneficial price and then resells it to the customer at a higher price, which will have to repay every month, “says Khaled.

 If money is not returned, the bank gets possession, as in the traditional system.  Some critics do not see the profit margin to get the trading entity with more than interest pure and simple, but experts like Khaled say that “it is an alternative system that makes the bank is involved in processes for investors and direct seller offer greater advantages to the customer with the ultimate aim of promoting the precepts of Islam as social peace and equality. ”

 Dr. Al Khatib analysis agrees, but adds that “we must remove myths and make clear that the Islamic Bank is neither a political nor religious, nor a fanatic, or the funding source of radical groups, or an NGO, is only a new approach to banking and the people who are behind are the people who have put before other traditional banks.


Bases of the seventh century to the twenty-first century

Beware of borrowing, it is a concern at night and a disgrace during the day,” the saying of the Prophet Muhammad that marks the general line of Islamic banking.  The system was born in UAE and has been operating since 1975, but has been in this century when it has begun recording a real boom.  According to the IMF the number of Islamic institutions rose from 75 in 1975 to over 300 in 2005, more than 75 countries.  Experts explain this boom in the expansion of the Islamic faith in the world and the need to create a parallel to the conventional model to accommodate the principles and convictions of that ever-growing population. These banks began its journey with funds of oil revenues.  Gradually they have been going out of the region to settle in other Muslim countries and non-Muslims, Arabs and non Arabs.  U.S., UK and Switzerland have such entities rather than Syria or Lebanon, where its opening is very recent.  Moreover, companies like Citibank, Deutsche Bank Lloyds TSD or already offering “Islamic windows” to its customers.

 The terminology of traditional banks to Islam finds its translation in this system where funding is called “murabaha” protection money “wadiah” loan, “al-hassan qardf ‘fixed term deposits,” mutharabah ‘and bonds’ sukuk’.  The same objective, but using different media, techniques and language.

The harshest critics come from within the accuse Islam where these banks to use the word “Islamic” as a marketing strategy.  These reactionary sectors consider that a bench of this kind can only be possible in a society completely Islamized.  The coexistence of both systems, however, is now a reality.