Reuters – One of the world’s largest sharia asset managers is lining up to buy up to 10 percent of the UK government’s inaugural sovereign Islamic bond issue, its chief executive said.
Adam Ebrahim, founder and chief executive of Oasis Crescent which is based in South Africa but expanding into the UK, told Reuters the firm hopes to invest 10 million to 20 million pounds in the 200 million pounds ($322.95 million) issue.
The planned ‘sukuk’, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in October, is expected to launch next year and become the first by a Western government.
Sukuk are investment certificates which follow Islamic religious principles, such as a ban on interest and gambling, that put conventional interest bearing bonds off limits to many Muslim investors.
Britain first announced plans for a sovereign sukuk five years ago, but that issue never materialised 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 as a hub for Islamic finance.
Ebrahim said sovereign issues of these certificates are concentrated in the Middle East and some countries in Asia. A push by Britain to become the first Western country to issue debt using instruments palatable to Islamic investors is a welcome opportunity to diversify Oasis’ investment portfolio, Ebrahim said.
“When they are ready, we’re ready,” he said.
Ebrahim was speaking in London as a range of Oasis funds were listed on a distribution platform run by Fidelity used by retail investors and their advisers.
Oasis first opened an office in Britain in 2012 aiming to offer investments to the country’s two million strong Muslim community.