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NEWHORIZON Rajab–Ramadan 1429


London Islamic Capital Markets Summit

This year’s London Islamic Capital Markets Summit took place in the impressive surroundings of

the Grosvenor Hotel Victoria on Buckingham Palace Road. The summit was endorsed by IBII.

Chaired by Neil Miller, a partner

in the banking department of

Norton Rose LLP, the summit

was attended by around 50

individuals, split between locals

and international figures, most

of whom remained present to

the end.

The roster of speakers was

second to none, and between

them they gave a decent overview

of Islamic capital markets from a

London-focused perspective. The

keynote address was given by the Lord

Mayor of London, Alderman David Lewis,

reflecting his interest and involvement in

Islamic finance related matters. The

speakers’ roster included a couple of

academics, a couple of scholars, a sprinkling

of lawyers and a handful of businessmen.

However, the biggest group of speakers was

from the regulatory side of the industry.

This cross section of the roster is an

important point, because the balance of

speakers, with its orientation around the

financial authorities, probably reflects the

state of the industry in the UK. Overall, the

feeling was that much of the discussion was

theoretical; the audience was there to pick

up an idea of what the foundations of this

industry will be like, gaining knowledge

that would be useful in future. A typical

example of this was the panel, during the

afternoon session, which considered

progress towards the standardisation

of documentation.

There were exceptions to this, of course.

Some of the speakers were able to lay out

their own practical experiences of the

industry for the benefit of the audience.

Mark Payne, who is a partner at the law

firm Clifford Chance LLP, gave a case study

outlining the Islamic financing of the

Chelsea Barracks, the largest such real

estate deal of its kind. Another exception

was the case study focusing on sovereign

sukuk, which considered the example of

Bahrain’s Ministry of Finance, covering its

issue of a $350 million sukuk.

A relatively subdued audience, while attentive

throughout, was perhaps slightly reticent in

asking questions. This was perhaps due to the

timing of the event itself; the industry in

London was currently awaiting an update on

the work of the British authorities on the

subject. While everyone expected positive

signals to be sent by the update, in June, there

was nevertheless a slight feeling of flux at

the conference.

The feeling was manifest in one or two

comments from the day. Richard Thomas,

the managing director of Global Securities

House Kuwait’s UK subsidiary as well as

the chairman of the UK Trade and

Investment Islamic Finance Subcommittee,

emphasised his belief that 2010 will be the

key year for the Islamic capital markets

industry in the UK. While the current

British government has been positive about

Islamic finance, there was also a

hint of political uncertainty

hanging in the air. James

Knight, senior policy advisor in

the UK Debt Management

Office, was asked whether there

exists cross-party support for

the British government’s

conducive stance on Islamic

finance; he did not feel in a

position to comment.

A wide range of fascinating

topics was considered by the

speakers in the most informative and

enlightening way. These included; the UK

study into the feasibility of issuing Islamic

financial instruments; the steps London is

taking to establish itself as a market leader;

the benefits of co-operation between Islamic

financial centres; regulatory convergence;

creating a level playing field for sukuk

(a widely discussed, and perhaps the most

crucial, subject); the challenges of

structuring sukuk; developing an

appropriate risk methodology for sukuk

bonds; and the implications of Basel II for

Islamic financial products.

The eminent collection of speakers included

some internationally renowned figures in

the industry. Highlights included John

Davie, head of international business

development of Vector Management

Limited, a firm exploring private public

partnerships in Shari’ah-compliant forms;

Nik Thani, executive director of Islamic

finance for the Dubai International

Financial Centre (DIFC) Authority; Ibrahim

A Mardam-Bey, chief executive officer of

Siraj Capital; and Mohammed Amin,

partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and a

member of the IIBI editorial advisory panel

of NewHorizon. IIBI 21

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