Speedy sukuk required
A key issue for the sukuk Islamic bank market in the Middle East region is the time that it takes to bring an issue to the market, said a report citing a top financial expert.
The sukuk market was currently where the eurobank market was in the 1960s and 1970s and it has to move forward and raise efficiency so that non-Islamic financial institutions will come to this market to raise money, said Rushdi Siddiqui, Thomson Reuters global head of Islamic finance, on the sidelines of the WIBC conference yesterday.
"The key issue is to make the market more efficient. At present the market is worth around $600 billion and is dominated by Malaysia," Siddiqui was quoted as saying in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
"Malaysia has developed its sukuk market in a manner that an issue can be issued swiftly and that is something this region needs to be able to replicate," the expert stated. "A key issue here is to come to the market faster," he added.
"But in growing the market Malaysia has capacity constraints and there is a difference between growth and profitable growth in the market," remarked Siddiqui.
The market, he said, had traditionally been dominated by the real estate sector but it should look to other areas.
"The halal food industry is a $640 billion market and this is an area currently funded through conventional finance that the industry should be looking at. That is a level of debt funding that could be replaced by sukuk because it is a truly asset-backed debt prospect," he added.
Meanwhile, demand for sukuk is expected to almost double over the next four years, driven by strong growth in the Middle East and Asia and their spread to new markets, a Thomson Reuters report said.
On average, investors expect to allocate $200 million into Islamic investments, or 50 per cent of their portfolios, next year, with sukuk representing 35 to 40 per cent of this, it added.