News / Economy

Britain Aims to be First Western Country to Issue Sovereign Islamic Bond

British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses delegates at the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum in London on Oct. 29, 2013.
British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses delegates at the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum in London on Oct. 29, 2013.
Reuters
Prime Minister David Cameron made a bid to position London as a leading hub for Islamic finance on Tuesday, announcing plans for Britain to become the first Western country to issue a sovereign sukuk, or Islamic bond.
 
The planned 200 million pound ($323 million) issue, expected next year, would be much smaller than an originally planned sukuk but would provide a much-needed liquidity management tool for Britain's six Islamic lenders and could encourage local firms to consider issuing sukuk of their own.
 
Britain's push to promote itself as a leading Islamic finance hub comes as competition heats up with other financial centers in Asia, led by Malaysia, and in the Middle East.
 
Britain first announced plans for a sovereign sukuk five years ago but that issue never materialized as the country's Debt Management Office decided the structure was too expensive.
 
The new proposal is less than a fifth of the size of the original and is designed to boost London's status rather than to diversify Britain's investor base.
 
“Our ambition is clear: to make Britain the first sovereign to issue an Islamic bond outside the Islamic world,” British finance minister George Osborne wrote in a column in the Financial Times on Tuesday.
 
Sukuk are investment certificates which follow religious principles such as a ban on interest and gambling.
 
The global Islamic banking industry is expected to tip $1.8 trillion by the end of this year, according to consultancy Ernst & Young, and is starting to attract interest among big Western banks because of rapid growth of trade involving wealthy Gulf economies.
 
Malaysia, the world's largest marketplace for sukuk, is shifting efforts from local market development towards attracting global issuers, while Dubai is revising regulations to attract sukuk issuance and trading.
 
London, the European base for several Middle East banks, has the legislation in place to capture more business and has attracted more than $34 billion in sukuk listings from around the globe over the last five years. Sizeable issuance from local firms, however, has remained elusive.
 
The government sukuk, by enhancing London's status as an Islamic finance hub, should not stumble on the Debt Management Office's “value for taxpayer” objective, a test which the original plan of five years ago failed.
 
“The government was previously looking at a relatively large program of sukuk issuance as part of its regular financing program, but has now changed its strategy to look at a more modest sukuk issue in order to derive wider benefits such as instigating activity in the Islamic finance industry,” a Debt Management Office spokesman said.
 
A smaller issue was also more likely to be cost effective, he added.
 
Islamic Index
 
The investment-grade sukuk would be welcome news for local lenders which could use it as a liquidity instrument, said Richard Williams, finance director at Bank of London and the Middle East, the UK's largest standalone Islamic bank.
 
“This challenge will now be resolved and is one of the final measures in creating a truly level playing field for the UK Islamic banks,” said Williams.
 
The London Stock Exchange also announced plans to launch an Islamic index which would identify companies which are filtered according to Islamic principles, which work in much the same way as socially responsible screens.
 
Islamic investments have already been used to finance London landmarks such as the Shard skyscraper and the Olympic Village.
 
The World Islamic Economic Forum is hosting its ninth annual conference in London this week, the first time it has been held in a non-Muslim country.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
October 30, 2013 2:42 AM
Hello and welcome long-awaited prosperity based on Islamic economic principals, good bye antiquated dysfunctional Capitalism.
Mr. Cameron, what is dinner tonight?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.

The Flying Greek

Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7768
JPY
USD
108.84
GBP
USD
0.6124
CAD
USD
1.0999
INR
USD
61.042

Rates may not be current.