S&P predicts sharp decline in issuance of Islamic bonds

Main centre for sukuk

NEW YORK - The Islamic sukuk or bond market is set to drop sharply this year after Malaysia's central bank, one of the largest global issuers, stopped doing so, Standard & Poor's said Tuesday.
"In the first half of 2015, the Central Bank of Malaysia's pullback saw total sukuk issuance drop by 42.5 percent compared with the same period a year earlier," said S&P Global Head of Islamic Finance Mohamed Damak.
The country's central bank alone issued $45 billion of sukuk in 2014 out of a total issuance of $116.4 billion, he said.
The drop in sukuk comes after years of double-digit growth in the Islamic sharia-compliant bonds.
S&P said in a report that part of the reason behind the bank's decision was that its sukuk were subscribed to by a broad array of investors, preventing them from reaching their intended end-users, primarily Malaysian Islamic banks.
As a result, the central bank decided to switch to other instruments restricted to banks, it said.
Accordingly, S&P revised its forecast for total sukuk issuance this year to about $50-60 billion from $100-115 billion, it said.
"Excluding this effect, the market performed relatively well despite the decline in oil prices," S&P said.
Kuala Lumpur and London have been the main centres for sukuk followed by the oil-rich Gulf states.
The global value of outstanding sukuk was $269.4 billion at the end of 2013.
Unlike conventional bonds, which give ownership of debt, sukuk are asset-based securities that give investors a share because Islamic sharia law prohibits interest-bearing debt.