Times of Malta

Islamic finance in #Malta

In 2008, the Malta Financial Ser­vices Authority was the first EU regulator to issue guidelines on Islamic finance, which were updated in 2015-2016. In 2016, the Malta Stock Ex­change launched an Islamic Equity Index in order to attract investment and business from the Middle East. From a legislative aspect, Malta is already well-geared to welcome new structures that provide for Islamic finance. Malta is the only EU member country whose regulatory framework provides for protected cell companies and incorporated cell companies. Thus it may easily accommodate Takaful insurance solutions. Islamic investors are given the opportunity to set up their funds as Special Purpose Vehicles, Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities, Alternative Investment Funds or Professional Inves­tor Funds. Islamic finance institutions may also generate funds by listing on the Malta Stock Exchange.

Introducing #sukuk bonds in #Malta

Discussion about sukuk bonds is on the increase. The government of Malta has also considered issuing this type of security. Meanwhile, many established players on the international capital markets are issuing sukuks. A sukuk has a secondary market in the same way as a typical bond has and investors may buy, hold or sell the sukuk after this has been issued in the primary market. Hence, liquidity considerations are also relevant for sukuk bonds. The buyer of a sukuk bond is indirectly buying an asset that has value rather than entering into a loan obligation with the issuer of a typical debt instrument. Importantly, the number of investors in the Islamic world cannot be ignored and therefore Sharia compliant vehicles capable of attracting their wealth are increasingly relevant. The sukuk is a good starting point for issuers to tap into this reality.

New investors will ‘open doors’, Islamic window for Fimbank

Fimbank is about to make the first step into introducing Islamic banking to Malta. Provided that Middle Eastern institutional investors take a controlling interest in the near future, the bank will be able to expand into new markets and target larger clients. Fimbank has a commitment for additional equity of $160 million. According to the bank's president Margrith Lütschg-Emmenegger, it has the potential to triple or even quadruple its balance sheet over the next five years. She further stressed on the bank's striving towards a major strategic turning point. This will be possible if shareholders allow the joint offer by Kuwait-licensed Burgan Bank SAK and Bahrain-licensed United Gulf Bank BSC at the extraordinary general meeting on January 31st.

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