Thursday, February 11, 2010

Westpac dips into Islamic finance

Westpac is set to offer a commodity-trading facility aimed at overseas investors that operates under the principles of Islamic law, reports The Sydney Morning Herald (Feb 12, 2010).
The move by Westpac, which targets Islamic institutions, coincides with a federal government attempt to promote involvement in Islamic financing.
The Trade Minister, Simon Crean, will launch a study today outlining opportunities for the financial services sector to tap into sharia-compliant investment and banking markets. It follows the recommendation last month by a government-backed finance taskforce to overhaul tax rules to ensure Islamic financing products receive equal treatment, the report said.
The Australian Financial Centre Forum, which released a broader report into the nation's finance sector, highlighted Islamic financing as a potential funding source for the nation's banks, the report added. "Accessing this market could increase the diversity of the sources of capital available to Australian businesses and consumers," the Australian Financial Centre Forum said in its report.
Mr Crean said Islamic financing was a plank in the government's strategy to make Australia a financial hub in the Asia-Pacific region. ''Continued growth in major Asian economies will create a need for resources-related services and infrastructure, which are ideal assets for forms of Islamic financing," he said.

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