Sukuk growth may be blunted by UAE's tighter standards: S&P
Standardization issues could be resolved “once and for all” through an initiative by Dubai and its partners
Saudi issues $7.5 billion in international bonds in January 2019. Image used for illustrative purpose.
Getty Images/ Mohd Kafii Isa / EyeEm
By Staff Writer, Arab News
DUBAI: The growth in shariah-compliant bond issuance this year could be hurt by complications arising from the UAE’s recent adoption of tighter Islamic finance standards, according to S&P Global Ratings.
Sukuk issuance will be between $140 billion and $155 billion in 2021 after $139.8 billion were sold last year, Mohamed Damak, global head of Islamic finance at the rating agency, said in a webinar on Wednesday.
One of the downside risks to that view is a need to resolve issues around Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) Standard 59 regarding the sale of debt that was adopted at the beginning of the year in the UAE, Damak said.
“If the issue is not resolved we might see much much fewer issuance in the UAE and other countries where the AAOIFI standards are adopted,” he said.
The tighter standard relating to tangibility of assets has held back some UAE banks from investing in sukuk out of concern that they may not be compliant, Reuters reported on May 31, citing unnamed industry sources.
Buyers have also been given by pause by disagreement among scholars at UAE institutions over whether Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank’s AT1 sukuk issuance in January was AAOIFI-compliant, Reuters said.
Standardization issues could be resolved “once and for all” through an initiative by Dubai and its partners, including the Islamic Development Bank, to come up with a global legal regulatory framework for Islamic finance, Damak said.
Growth of the Islamic finance sector as a whole will be between 10 percent and 12 percent, driven by mortgages and corporate lending in Saudi Arabia, investments related to World Cup 2022 in Qatar and, to a lesser extent, World Expo in Dubai, Damak said.
Corporate sukuk issuance was muted in 2020 as companies deferred capital expenditure that may return in 2021, he said. Maturing sukuk worth $65 billion will need to be refinanced in 2021.
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