Will Dubai Default Sink International Islamic Bonds Market?

Dubai's debt woes are bringing the world's attention to the Islamic finance, particularly the Islamic bonds known as sukuk. Sukuk are Sharia-compliant bonds that do not pay interest. Instead, the sukuk sellers pay the debt holders a share of the rent or capital gains from non-cash physical assets or share of the profits earned from businesses purchased with the money raised. Unfortunately for the Nakheel sukuk holders, the real estate bubble in Dubai that promised big gains from rents and sales has collapsed. And the Islamic bond holders are facing the possibility of a major default, resulting in a dramatic sell-off of sukuk in the last few weeks. According to Data Explorers, a company that tracks how much of a company's stock or bonds are out on loan, about 75% of institutions holding the sukuk sold their position between the end of August and the end of November. "It's an extraordinary sell-off in a bond so close to maturity, when there was no indication of a problem refinancing. The data suggests they had some information that it was a good time to sell," said Data Explorers managing director Julian Pittam.

Dubai's recent request for a debt standstill for Nakheel, one of its biggest state-owned companies, has raised the possibility of the largest Islamic bond or "sukuk" default on record, raising alarms in the global Islamic debt markets.

Nakheel, the Dubai developer behind many of the Emirate's high-profile projects, has to find $4bn to repay sukuk by the middle of this month, according to a report in Financial Times.

If Nakheel doesn't get creditors to agree to a stay on their claims, the Dubai company could be declared in default after Dec. 14, 2009. A group of the sukuk holders, including New York-based hedge-fund firm QVT Financial LP, have appointed London-based law firm Ashurst to represent them in the matter, says the Wall Street Journal.

A December 2006 report on the Nakheel sukuk sale in Euroweek, a trade publication for capital markets, said about 100 accounts bought the notes. Of those, more than half were banks. By geography, about 40% of the issue was placed in the Middle East and 40% in Europe.


Beginning modestly in 2000 with three sukuk issuers collectively worth US$336 million, the Sukuk bonds exceeded $75 billion last year. Issuance of sukuk - both in domestic and foreign currencies - has been quite common in some countries. The most active issuers of sukuk in the past year include Malaysia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait and Bahrain.

The potential Dubai default is likely to negatively affect nations in Asia and the Pacific region planning to raise money by offering sukuk. Indonesia, Pakistan and South Korea are planning to sell Islamic bonds offshore in separate offerings. Jakarta plans to sell up to $1 billion of global sukuk by the second quarter of 2010, according to people familiar with the situation. Pakistan, the only other Asian nation to have issued offshore Islamic bonds, has just $600 million outstanding from its 2005 sale. It is looking to raise $500 million in Islamic bonds next year.

The Karachi city government is preparing to issue $500 million in municipal sukuk by February, 2010, a Pakistan finance ministry official said in September this year.

South Korea is looking to sell what would be its first ever sukuk as it continues to refine its tax laws to facilitate issuance. It wants to attract capital from Islamic nations to diversify its funding sources and reduce its refinancing risks. The Korean government has been planning a road show in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

Since the start of this year, $8.1 billion of Islamic bonds out of the Asian-Pacific region have priced, exceeding the $6.4 billion volume in the same period last year, according to data provider Dealogic.

Last year's global economic crisis brought attention to Islamic finance as an alternative for both Muslim and non-Muslim customers. In an article, the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano voiced its approval of Islamic finance. The Vatican paper wrote that banks should look at the rules of Islamic finance to restore confidence amongst their clients at a time of global economic crisis. “The ethical principles on which Islamic finance is based may bring banks closer to their clients and to the true spirit which should mark every financial service,” the Osservatore Romano said. “Western banks could use tools such as the Islamic bonds, known as sukuk, as collateral”. Sukuk may be used to fund the "car industry or the next Olympic Games in London,” the article said.

Investors have been attracted by Islamic banking's more conservative approach: Islamic law forbids banks from charging interest (though customers pay fees) and many scholars discourage investment in excessively leveraged companies. Though it currently accounts for just 1% of the global market, the Islamic finance industry's value is growing at around 15% a year, and could reach $4 trillion in five years, up from $500 billion today, according to a 2008 report from Moody's Investors Service.

The unfolding debt crisis in Dubai is the severest test yet of the short life of the Islamic debt markets. The process and the outcome of the ultimate resolution of the debt crisis in the tiny Gulf Emirate will have a lasting impact on the future of entire global Islamic finance.

Related Links:

Trillion Dollar Halal Business

Sukuk.me

South Asians Flee Dubai

Nakheel Saw Unusual Selling

Islamic Finance Structures 101: Mudarabah

Pessimism is the Ultimate Kufr

Nakheel Sukuk Saw Unusual Selling

July in Dubai

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's some welcome news from Dubai in today's Wall Street Journal:

Dubai World's promise to repay Nakheel's debt (including sukuk) and a separate move by the emirate to set out a legal framework for future talks may not be enough to repair the damage to Dubai's reputationamong international investors over the handling of its debt restructuring, investors and observers said.

While Dubai's moves go a long way toward restoring confidence, they aren't "a magical pill that will clear the air and erase the confusion," said Jawad Ali, a partner at law firm King & Spalding in Dubai, which represents at least one Dubai World creditor.

Sheik Ahmed bin Saaed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee, in a statement said that Monday's actions were taken to reassure investors and others that "our government will act at all times in accordance with market principles and internationally accepted business practices."

On Monday, Abu Dhabi agreed to provide Dubai $10 billion to settle some of Dubai's obligations, including a $4.1 billion debt payment related to an Islamic bond, or sukuk, that matured Monday. (Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the two biggest emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi, one of the world's biggest oil producers, serves as the federation's capital.)
Mayraj said…
Islamic Finances uses as a tool what is known in US as lease financing. of course, the property bubble has hurt investors in it. But, lease finance can be used as a vehicle for financing in other ways as well. US reveals that in spades and the state of your location is a major user of this financing technique.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BBC report on Islamic finance in India:

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in the Indian city of Mumbai has launched a new index which consists of companies that meet the Islamic legal code.

The Tasis Shariah 50 was formed using guidelines from an Indian Shariah advisory board.

Studies have found that most Muslims in India are excluded from the country's formal financial sector.

That is because Islamic law does not allow investment in companies that sell goods like alcohol, tobacco or weapons.

Neither does it allow investment in companies that derive significant profit from interest.

The index is intended to be the basis for other Shariah-compliant financial products.

'Come and invest'

BSE Managing Director and Chief Executive Madhu Kannan said that the new index would attract Islamic and other "socially responsible" investors both in India and overseas.

Continue reading the main story “Start QuoteAll Muslim countries of the Middle East and Pakistan put together do not have as many listed Sharia-compliant stocks as are available on the BSE”
End Quote Tasis Director of Research and Operations Shariq Nisar
"This index will create increased awareness of financial investments among the masses and help enhance financial inclusion," he said in a statement.

Companies included in the index have been screened by Tasis, which is based in Mumbai and whose board members include Islamic scholars and legal experts.

"Before anyone can attract investors, we need to put in place institutional infrastructure, and having an index to track Shariah-compliant stock is important," MH Khatkhatay, senior adviser to Tasis, told the Reuters news agency.

"If you have an ETF (exchange traded fund), for example, you need an index, or if overseas investors want to invest in Shariah index in India, this is an invitation for people to come and invest."

Tasis said the index would "unlock the potential for Sharia investments in India".

"The BSE has the largest number of listed Sharia-compliant stocks in the world," said Shariq Nisar, director of research and operations at Tasis.

"All Muslim countries of the Middle East and Pakistan put together do not have as many listed Sharia-complaint stocks as are available on the BSE."

Stocks will be reviewed every month to ensure they continue to meet the criteria - any which do not will be removed, officials say
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Time magazine piece on how big Wall Street investment banks are claiming the lion's share of mathematicians and scientists to create exotic financial products:

Ever wonder how investment bankers, a breed known in the past more for its social skills and golf handicaps than for its mathematical prowess, ever invented products like those crazily sophisticated, synthetic collateralized debt obligations that brought down the financial system? Well, they didn't. They hired rocket scientists to do that--a whole lot of them. In fact, Wall Street hires more math, engineering and science graduates than the semiconductor industry, Big Pharma or the telecommunications business. As one mathematician-turned-trader friend recently put it to me, why should he work on new high-tech products at Bell Labs when he could make five times as much crafting 12-dimensional models of the stock-buying and -selling behaviors of average Joes for a major global-investment house, which could then turn around and make massive profits by betting against those very patterns?

It's a question that's right at the center of the debate over the U.S.'s economic future. After the financial crisis, the banking industry secured massive bailouts by convincing us all that Wall Street was the grease on the wheels of the real economy. Banks provided the capital to create new businesses, after all, and if they weren't healthy, nobody else could be either. Of course, that position has become harder to defend as lending rates to new businesses have contracted post--financial crisis and economic growth has remained sluggish even as bailout money has ensured that Wall Street would mushroom in size. Amazingly, three years after the crisis, the percentage of the U.S. economy represented by the financial sector remains at historic highs of over 8%.

Now there's even more compelling historical evidence that Wall Street's favorite argument doesn't hold water. A new study from the Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo.--based nonprofit that researches and funds entrepreneurship, has found that over the past several decades, the growth in size and importance of the financial sector has run in tandem with lower--not higher--rates of new-business formation. In the 1980s, when Wall Street really took off, the number of new firms created fell, and in the 1990s, it plateaued and has been stagnant ever since. Basically, the facts show the opposite of what Wall Street would have us believe. A number of factors explain that, but one of the most important, argue the study's authors, is that the financial sector is sucking talent and entrepreneurial energy from more socially beneficial sectors of the economy.


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2061220,00.html#ixzz1Hr1jAxuk
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from a piece by Pankaj Mishra published in Businessweek:

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- During the worldwide depression of the mid-1930s, the poet and Islamic modernist Muhammad Iqbal, often called Pakistan’s spiritual founder, wrote a poem dramatizing the inadequacies of Western political and economic systems.

Democracy and capitalism had empowered a privileged elite in the name of the people, Iqbal felt. But he was not much fonder of Marxism, which was then coming into vogue among anti- colonial activists across South Asia and the Middle East:

But what’s the answer to the mischief of that wise Jew That Moses without light, that cross-less Jesus Not a prophet, but with a book under his arm For what could be more dangerous than this That the serfs uproot the tents of their masters

(Rooh-e-Sultani Rahe Baqi To Phir Kya Iztarab
Hai Magar Kya Uss Yahoodi Ki Shararat Ka Jawab?

Woh Kaleem Be-Tajalli, Woh Maseeh Be-Saleeb
Neest Peghambar Wa Lekin Dar Baghal Darad Kitab

Iss Se Barh Kar Aur Kya Ho Ga Tabiat Ka Fasad
Torh Di Bandon Ne Aaqaon Ke Khaimon Ki Tanab!)
------------
In any case, Tunisians voting for Ghannouchi and Pakistanis flocking to Khan’s rallies are not the radical revolutionaries or closet theocrats they are often made out to be by a paranoid local elite and a global liberal intelligentsia. Rather, these are people who have simply failed to develop the habit of seeing Islam as a purely religious phenomenon, separate from economics, politics, law and other aspects of collective life.

Whether liberal and secular elites like it or not, there are a large number of socially conservative Muslims who wish to see the ethical principles of Islam play a more active role in public life. The mind-numbing division between “moderates” and “extremists” that often passes for profound understanding of Islamic societies in the West simply fails to account for this invisible majority of Muslims, who are unlikely to plump for secular liberalism either now or in the near future.

For many nationalist and reflexively conservative Pakistanis, Imran Khan’s belief that “if we follow Iqbal’s teaching, we can reverse the growing gap between Westernized rich and traditional poor that helps fuel fundamentalism” is not the empty rhetoric it may sound to a Westernized Pakistani.

Indeed, the history of South Asia and the Middle East has repeatedly shown that the failure of modernizing endeavors, and the widespread suffering it unleashes, has always enhanced the moral prestige of Islam. In the eyes of its victims, the debacle of modernization and secularization has also diminished the credibility and authority of local elites as well as their Western sponsors.

The classic example, of course, was Iran. Visiting the Islamic Revolution after the fall of the secularizing Shah, the French philosopher Michel Foucault claimed that “Islam -- which is not simply a religion, but an entire way of life, an adherence to a history and a civilization -- has a good chance to become a gigantic powder keg, at the level of hundreds of millions of men.”

The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran that Foucault rashly cheered on has, in another generational shift, run its course. And revolution per se may be far from the minds of young Pakistanis and Tunisians trying to regain control of their national destiny. But the powder keg of political Islam that Foucault spoke of remains dry elsewhere in the Muslim world; and its potency is only likely to increase as Western political and economic systems and ideologies seem, to many Muslims, feeble, and yet so malign.


http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-17/islam-offers-a-third-way-in-pakistan-and-tunisia-pankaj-mishra.html
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan ranks 8th in the world of Islamic Finance, according to a Guardian story. Here's an excerpt:

How it works

Islamic finance is all about sharing risk between financial institutions and the individuals that use them. To do that, the two parties are tied into a longer-term relationship with each other that is supposed to shift incentives and avoid cut and run financial deals.

So, for example, sharia-compliant mortgages mean that the bank and the borrower share the risks of repayment rather than charging any form of interest. Similarly, Islamic bonds like the one announced by David Cameron today involve both parties owning the debt, rather than a simple promise to repay a loan.

Since it's Islamic, that also means that financial trading is off-limits for things that are forbidden even if no interest is charged - so investments can't be made in alcohol, tobacco, non-halal meat products such as pork, pornography or gambling companies.

You don't have to be Muslim to use Islamic financial services - a fact which has stimulated further interest in the sector. The Islamic Bank of Britain reported a 55% increase in applications for its savings accounts by non-Muslims last year after the Barclays rate-fixing scandal.

In numbers

275: The number of Islamic financial institutions in the world.
75: The number of countries where they have a presence.
US$1.357 trillion: The value of the global Islamic finance services industry by the end of 2011.
US$4 trillion: The projected value of the global Islamic finance services industry by 2020.
£200m: The value of the planned Islamic bond being unveiled by David Cameron today.
11th: The ranking of the UK (up 4 places from 2011) in the Global Islamic Finance Report which weighs up variables like the number of institutions involved in Islamic finance industry, the size of Islamic financial assets and the regulatory and legal infrastructure.

Glossary

bay 'al-mu'ajjal: Instant sale of an asset in return for a payment of money (made in full or by instalments) at a future date
gharar: Describes a risky or hazardous sale, where the details of the sale contract are unknown or uncertain
ijarah: Leasing contract
istisna': Refers to an agreement to sell a non-existent asset, which is to be manufactured or built according to the buyer's specifications and is to be delivered on a specified future date at a predetermined selling price.
mudarabah: Profit and loss-sharing
musharakah: Joint partnership
qard hasan: Interest-free financing
riba' : Usury
sharikat al-'aqd: Contractual partnership
sharika al-milk: Proprietary partnership
sukuk: Islamic bonds
tahawwut: Hedging
takaful: Islamic insurance
wadiah: Safe custody
wakala: Investor entrusts an agent to act on his behalf
zanniyyat: probabilistic evidence


http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/oct/29/islamic-finance-for-beginners
Riaz Haq said…
A rally in Pakistan bonds bodes well for the world’s second-biggest Muslim nation as it prepares to sell global sukuk for the first time since 2005.

The government may issue $500 million of dollar Islamic notes by month-end, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told reporters in Dubai on Nov. 8, reviving the sale initially scheduled for September. The yield on the nation’s conventional five-year U.S. currency debt sold in April dropped to a five-month low of 6.16 percent and Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH is predicting 6 percent for a similar-maturity sukuk.

Investors have sent the benchmark stock index to a record and the rupee to its strongest in more than two months as they focus back on the economy as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif overcame pressure from opposition members to step down in August. Global sales of sukuk are heading for the worst fourth quarter since 2008, aggravating a shortage of Islamic securities that may support demand for Pakistan’s offering.

“The macroeconomic outlook of the country has vastly improved,” Vasseh Ahmed, chief investment officer of Faysal Asset Management Ltd., which oversees $85 million in Karachi, said in a Nov. 11 e-mail. “There is expected to be substantial interest owing to the lack of investment avenues for Islamic investors.”

Shrinking Sales

Worldwide sales of Islamic bonds dropped 81 percent this quarter to $2 billion from the previous three months, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Issuance climbed 11 percent in 2014 to $38.9 billion, trailing 2012’s record $46.8 billion total.

Pakistan tapped the international debt market in April for the first time since 2007. It sold $2 billion in total of 7.25 percent non-Shariah-compliant notes due in 2019 and 10-year 8.25 percent bonds whose yield was at a three-month low of 7.46 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Demand exceeded the amount on offer by 14 times.

The nation has no global sukuk outstanding, only local-currency Shariah-compliant notes that were last issued in June.


A five-year note will pay from 6 percent to 6.5 percent and 10-year securities 7 percent to 7.5 percent, Mohammed Sohail, Karachi-based chief executive officer at Topline Securities Pakistan Ltd., said in a Nov. 11 e-mail.


---------
The South Asian nation’s foreign-exchange reserves totaled $14 billion in September, compared with $8.7 billion at end-2013, central bank data show. The fiscal deficit narrowed to 5.8 percent of gross domestic product in the 12 months through June, from 8.2 percent the previous year, according to official data on June 3.

‘Attractive Yield’

“The key factor will be the domestic political situation,” Sajjad Anwar, chief investment officer at NBP Fullerton Asset Management Ltd., which manages $456 million, said by phone on Nov. 11 from Karachi. “The economy is in better shape now and the response to the sukuk will be very encouraging.”

The nation, which is rated below investment grade at B- by Standard & Poor’s, is still likely to attract investor interest because of its higher yields. Qatar’s global Shariah-compliant debt due in 2023 yields 2.99 percent, while Malaysia’s 2021 sukuk pay 2.93 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Pakistan has engaged in economic reforms to meet conditions of an International Monetary Fund bailout. The Washington-based lender said in a Nov. 8 statement that it will seek board approval to release $1.1 billion in loans in December. The reforms are “broadly on track” with growth forecast at 4.3 percent in the fiscal year ending June 2015, the fund said. GDP increased 4.1 percent in the last financial year.

“Pakistan is a very well known name to the sukuk investor community,” Union Investment’s Dergachev said in a Nov. 11 e-mail. “It still offers a very attractive yield compared to other sukuk issuers both in the sovereign and corporate space and that matters in a low-yield environment.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-13/sharif-weathering-protest-revives-pakistan-plan-islamic-finance.html
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan regulators merging three Islamic investment firms

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Pakistan regulators are merging three small Islamic investment firms after the central bank took control of Karachi-based KASB Bank Limited, accelerating efforts to strenghten financing by investment partnerships.

Last week, the government directed the central bank to reorganize or amalgamate KASB Bank in the next six months, after the lender failed to meet minimum capital requirements.

On Friday, KASB Modaraba said it had taken management control of First Pak Modaraba and First Prudential Modaraba, three of a total 26 modarabas active in the country.

Modarabas are a form of Islamic investment partnership where assets are managed on behalf of clients, with income and expenses shared under a pre-agreed ratio.

The sector remains a tiny part of the country's Islamic finance industry, with several firms lacking scale to compete.

Last week, First Habib Bank Modaraba, a unit of Pakistan's largest lender HBL Bank, liquidated its business.

As of March, the three modarabas held a combined 1.9 billion rupees ($18.7 million) worth of assets, dwarfed by larger peers such as Standard Chartered Modaraba with 5.3 billion rupees in assets.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has also developed risk management guidelines for modarabas, last year introducing sharia compliance and sharia audit mechanisms to strengthen the sector.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/17/pakistan-modarabas-idUSL6N0T701320141117
Riaz Haq said…
From Wall Street Journal:

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan raised $1 billion through an Islamic bond issue on Wednesday, its first such issue in nearly a decade, in a bid to boost the country’s economy, finance ministry officials said.

The government initially planned to raise $500 million from the issue, but the bond was oversubscribed, with requests totaling $2.3 billion, the finance ministry said. Offers of $1 billion were accepted for a five-year maturity at a so-called profit rate, which is similar to a yield, of 6.75%.

The issue was part of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ’s ambitious plans to boost Pakistan’s economy, which include divestments and privatization of as many as 31 state-owned enterprises.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar called the bond issue “a reflection of [the] international investor community’s [confidence] in the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his economic policies.”

Officials on Thursday said the issue had added significance because of the abandoned sale of a part of the government’s stake in the country’s largest oil and gas business, due to poor investor response. That sale had been expected to raise $800 million, but investors tendered bids for only 52% of the shares on offer.

An Islamic bond, or Sukuk, doesn’t rely on interest, which is forbidden in Islam. Instead, the bonds are linked to assets and profits paid to investors based on revenue generated by the assets, or based on the investor’s part-ownership of the asset, depending on the bond’s arrangement.

“This [bond] issue has been very successful; It’s a big boost and a statement of trust from investors,” a senior finance ministry official said, requesting anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. “Our assessments proved correct: that investors were hungry for an Islamic bond.”

In a statement issued after the issue, Pakistan’s finance ministry said the profit rate of the $1 billion Islamic bond “compares favorably with the average weighted cost of comparable domestic debt of about 11%” and will result in annual savings worth 5 billion Pakistani rupees, or nearly $50 million, in debt servicing.

The ministry said the $1 billion proceeds from the bond issue will immediately go to the country’s central bank, which will help boost foreign exchange reserves. Pakistan had liquid foreign exchange reserves of $13.2 billion as of November 21, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. The government wants to increase reserves to $15 billion by the end of this year.

The International Monetary Fund is expected, pending a review by its executive board next month, to release a $1.1 billion tranche of a $6.6 billion loan to Pakistan.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/pakistan-issues-1-billion-of-bonds-1417113745
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's capital market regulator has published long-awaited rules for the issuance of sukuk, or Islamic bonds, as part of efforts to strengthen governance and broaden their appeal to investors.

The regulator first drafted the rules in October 2012, but efforts have accelerated under a five-year plan that authorities hope will double the industry's share of the banking sector to 20 percent by 2020.

The rules come at a time when issuance of corporate sukuk in Pakistan is gathering pace, helping broaden an Islamic capital market which in recent years has relied on the government for the bulk of such deals.

The current pipeline of sukuk includes utility K-Electric , which is planning a sukuk worth 22 billion rupees ($217 million), which would be Pakistan's largest corporate sukuk to date.

Pakistan Mobile Communications (Mobilink) and Bank Islami Pakistan also plan sukuk of their own.

Under the rules, sukuk will have to be structured to comply with standards of the Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Finance Institutions (AAOIFI), as well as those set by the local regulator.

AAOIFI standards indicate how Islamic financial products should be structured; complying with the standards could increase the appeal of sukuk to investors by addressing consumer concerns about their religious authenticity.

The rules require issuers to conduct an annual audit to ensure the sukuk confirms to sharia requirements. Sukuk must also carry a credit rating not lower than triple BBB.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/10/pakistan-sukuk-rules-idUSL5N0VK00J20150210

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