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DOHA: The sukuk issuances in Qatar will expand in the years ahead and there would be more demand from China and South-east Asian countries.
The estimated $130bn investment plans put forth by the government by 2016 have created a great demand for project finance ahead. Issuing sukuk will likely be one way the Qatari authorities, along with government-linked and government-owned companies, to raise funds, the Oxford Business Group’s (OBG) 2012 report noted.
Qatar is expecting a large number of subscribers beyond the Islamic world. “These days, they are from the West, China and Southeast Asia. Sukuks are a nice, neat, safe, high-yielding product that give diversity to any portfolio,” the OBG report quoted Farah Ahmed Hersi, the Executive Manager of Economics and treasury at Masraf Al Rayan, as saying.
In 2011, the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region accounted for 23 percent of the world’s total $84.4b issued worldwide, with the GCC countries issuing sukuks worth a total of $9.66bn.
This was up substantially from the $6.6bn issued in 2010 by GCC member states.
A country-wise breakdown in terms of value shows Qatar has issued around 11 percent of all sukuks issued globally in 2011, the second highest share of the total after Malaysia — which had 69 percent — and well ahead of regional peers. The Qatari figure was well up in 2010 too, when the country was responsible for 4.1 percent of the global sukuk issuance. According to OBG, the largest individual sukuk issue world-wide was the “Qatar Sovereign Sukuk 2014”, valued at $9.06bn. This was around seven times the size of Malaysian sovereign Wakala Global Sukuk.
The report attributed the heightened volatility of global equity markets in 2011, exacerbated by the ongoing Eurozone debt crisis, to the increasing popularity of sukuks.
There was also the continuing growth in liquidity in the global Islamic finance market, with sukuks being one of the few avenues available for Shariah-compliant investment. This drove demand for sukuks to new heights, as Islamic finance houses sought to mop up excess.
The difficulties in gaining credit from banks are also forcing investors increasingly towards capital markets, where bonds and sukuks are a natural choice.
HSBC Amanah, the bank’s shariah-compliant wing, announced in March 2012 that it expected the trend to continue, forecasting global sukuk issuance to be up as high as 50 percent year-on-year. In the Middle East sukuk issuance could reach as high as $14bn, according to HSBC.
This year is due to see a major step forward in issuer variety, with projected issuance of a number of corporate sukuks. For instance, Qatar Petroleum announced in March 2012 that it was considering such an offering at a corporate level. It would be the first such initiative by a Middle Eastern national oil company. The Peninsula