||Asean Affairs 6 June 2013
In light of these developments, that Islamic financial activities in Singapore have continued to expand over the past year. In banking, Middle East banks based in Singapore have started offering Islamic window facilities for their corporate clients.
Recently, Singapore-listed shipping company Atlantic Navigation, which has operations in GCC and India, signed an Islamic financing facility with a Singapore-based bank to further its business activities. Home-grown Mustafa Group is also considering an Islamic financing facility to fund its expansion into neighbouring countries.
In fund management, Securus Fund, the world’s first Shariah compliant data centre fund, successfully completed its second round of fund raising earlier this year to double their capital to about US$200m.
The Fund is based and jointly managed in Singapore by Keppel Data Centre Investment Management and AEP Investment Management, which is majority-owned by the Saudi Al-Rajhi Group.
With the capital increase, the Fund has since acquired quality data centres in Ireland and Netherland to add to its existing assets in Australia, Malaysia and UK. Sabana REIT, the world’s largest Islamic REIT in terms of listed assets, issued the first convertible sukuk in Singapore last year.
The response from investors in Asia and the Middle East has contributed to Sabana launching its S$500m multicurrency sukuk programme in April 2013.
This is Singapore’s second corporate sukuk programme after City Development’s S$1b programme launched in 2010. Earlier this year, City Development issued the 7th and 8th tranches from their programme for a total amount of S$100m.
We are encouraged that more sukuk issuances are also in the pipeline. Just recently, Swiber, a major Singapore-listed company engaged in offshore EPIC (Engineering, Procurement, Installation and Construction) services in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Latin America, announced its intentions to set up a sukuk programme in Singapore in the coming months.
These developments suggest that the growth potential for Islamic finance in Singapore has yet to be fully realised, and that Singapore can play a role in giving growth of cross-border Islamic financing an even greater push.
Towards this end, MAS is presently working with other government agencies and the industry to identify and address time-to market issues to further facilitate Islamic finance activities in Singapore.
This includes looking into providing greater clarity and certainty in the regulatory and tax treatment to expedite the issuance of sukuk and other Islamic capital market instruments.
The need to raise competency and develop talent to support the growth of the industry cannot be overstated. Singapore Management University (SMU) has successfully completed its first Masters programme in Islamic Law and Finance; and SMU has reiterated its commitment to support efforts at growing the human capital for the Islamic finance industry.
Industry players here have formed the Gulf Asia Shari’ah Compliant Investments Association (GASCIA) to promote and undertake initiatives to further grow the industry. Recently, a GASCIA member introduced Islamic finance training to a leading local Madrasah to increase the students’ awareness and promote interest in pursuing a career in the industry.
MAS will continue to work with industry players and training providers to ensure that we have a ready supply of talent to meet the needs of the industry as it continues to grow.
*SPEECH BY MR LIM HNG KIANG, MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY AND DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE MONETARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE, AT 4TH WORLD ISLAMIC BANKING CONFERENCE: ASIA SUMMIT 2013, 04 JUNE 2013, 9:00 AM AT PAN PACIFIC SINGAPORE