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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Islamic finance sector seen to reach $2 trillion by 2015

DUBAI — The $1 trillion global Islamic finance industry is set to double in size between 2011 and 2015, recording an annual 20 per cent growth driven by increasing demand for this “credible alternative” to conventional banking in the GCC and Asia.

“The global crisis faced by conventional finance has led to Islamic finance increasingly being viewed as a credible alternative. Issuers and investors have realised that the risk-reward balance in both conventional and Islamic finance are not fundamentally different,” said Stuart Anderson, managing director and regional head for the Middle East at Standard & Poor’s, or S&P.

S&P expects the $1 trillion global Islamic finance industry to grow 20 per cent over 2011-15 doubling in size over the period.

However, there are some more upbeat forecasts by pundits for the Islamic finance industry. Noor Islamic Bank chief executive Hussain Al Qemzi, speaking at the 2nd Annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference, said the global Islamic finance industry could grow from its present $1 trillion to around $4 trillion within five years as untapped markets such as China open up and new products drive demand.

Standard Chartered said in its Islamic finance industry outlook in June that banking assets of the Shariah-complaint segment, currently growing twice as fast as conventional banking assets, would reach $1.1 trillion globally in 2012, up 33 per cent from 2010.

With the gap between Islamic and conventional banking solutions narrowing substantially, and due to the fast development of the Islamic banking industry, Muslim high net worth individuals are increasingly expecting Shariah compliance in managing their wealth, making Islamic wealth management solutions a key market need, Standard Chartered Private Bank has observed. In the UAE, Islamic banking assets would grow to 20 per cent of the total banking sector in 2012 from an estimated 18 per cent in 2011, the bank has said.

The global prospects for the Islamic Finance industry will be the subject of a conference to be hosted by S&P in Dubai on September 25.

Entitled, “The Globalisation of Islamic Finance: Connecting the GCC with Asia and Beyond”, S&P’s Islamic finance conference will explore how enhanced links between GCC and Asia can drive greater convergence and globalisation in the industry.

Other key subjects that will be discussed at the event include the prospects for Islamic banks in the GCC when compared to their Asian counterparts; the varying applications of Takaful in Asia and GCC; and how greater use of sukuk can boost GCC and Asian economies.

Islamic finance growth is currently led by countries in the GCC and Asia, which represent half of the global industry. “Young, fast-growing Muslim populations; robust macroeconomic environments; and large infrastructure projects that require financing are the main drivers of this increasing growth. Malaysia leads the global industry while Saudi Arabia leads in the GCC,” S&P said.

“We have also seen stronger and more active support from domestic authorities, particularly through the creation of regulatory and tax frameworks, ensuring a level playing field between conventional and Islamic instruments,” said Anderson.

A key development expected to drive globalisation and expansion of Islamic banking outside Asia and the GCC is the increasing attractiveness of sukuk among global investors. At a time when conventional banks’ appetite for term loans is declining, S&P believes that sukuk could become a key funding source.

Sukuk issuance looks set to cross the $100 billion threshold in September 2012, and is projected by S&P to grow 25 per cent over 2012-15 to reach about $200 billion a year in 2015. Malaysia, Indonesia and the GCC are expected to account for a combined 85 per cent to 90 per cent of issuance mainly to finance infrastructure-related projects.

This year, new GCC issuances — as of September 17 — has totalled $19.9 billion across all asset classes compared with $19.4 billion of new issuances in all of 2011. Asia, meanwhile, has seen sukuk issuances worth $57.9 billion year-to-date, compared with $64.9 billion in 2011. In terms of number of issuances this year, the GCC has accounted for about 50 and Asia for 430 issuances — also as of September 17 — compared with 44 and 437, respectively, for 2011, S&P said.

(Khaleej Times / 22 Sep 2012)

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