Monday, March 29, 2010

Crescent Investments on Islamic banking in Oz

By Habhajan Singh

The lack of regulations supportive is one of the challenges when one tries to structure Islamic finance proeducts in Australia, but the sitaution is slowly changing. This was one of the challenges identified by Crescent Investments Australasia Pty Limited, an investment firm providing Shariah compliant investment products.

"We face many challenges in Australia, in trying to structure Shariah compliant products. The laws and regulations were not designed for Shariah compliant products and we have spent significant time, effort (not to mention expense) negotiating our way in the legal system to ensure compliance with the Australia statute and common law as well as Shariah rulings," said its executive chairman Talal Yassine. However, he noted that the Australian authorities are now paying serious attention to the Shariah compliant market.

"We anticipate that the policy and regulatory frameworks in Australia will be looked at quite closely with a view to further facilitating Shariah compliant investments," he said in an email reply. Crescent Investments has worked hand-in-hand with Amanie Business Solutions, a Malaysian inspired Islamic finance consulting firm, in structuring products for the new, but growing, market for Islamic finance in Australia.

On March 19, The Malaysian Reserve reported that Amanie, led and anchored by prominent Shariah scholar Dr Mohd Daud Bakar, is looking to expand its presence in Australia and Europe to tap the growing business opportunities in those regions. The report said that Amanie was looking at opening up offices or partnerships in Australia, while the choice for Europe is between London and Luxembourg.

"There are concrete proposals to the [Australian] Government to amend some laws to accommodate Islamic finance. These are some of the areas of interest," Dr Daud Bakar had told The Malaysian Reserve.

He was referring to the Australia financial centre report presented to the Australian Parliament and made public in mid-January which had recommended on withholding tax on offshore borrowings and on Islamic finance, to improve its ‘access to offshore pools of savings at competitive rates, so as to provide more diversified and cheaper funding for Aust ra l ia’s inve stment needs’.

Commonly known as the Johnson Report, it was commissioned by the Government in September 2008 as part of its commitment to secure Australia’s future as a leading financial service centre.

Amanie has advised a number of deals originating from there, including LM Investment Management Ltd’s (LM) Islamic property fund and Crescent Investments’s equity fund, both being the first of their kind in that part of the world.

On Amanie's plans to step up its presence in Australia, Talal said there is much potential in Australia for the development of a Shariah compliant market for the local community and global investors.

"If you look at the Australian market, it is very robust, well run and safe. It also has significant positive exposure to the ever growing Chinese market and has even weathered the GCC with aplomb. Combine this with a world leading Shariah compliance advisory firm and this, in my view, creates a recipe for success," he said.

Asked to describe his outfit, Talal said Crescent Investments is a specialist investment firm focused on providing investors with a range of Australian focused wealth management products that are based on a new global investment phenomenon called Shariah compliant Investments to meet the needs of the Muslim and the broader Australian investment community.

"Crescent develops the products in consultation with our Shariah Supervisory board, who are scholars and experts in managing the products over a range of different risk profiles and domains.

"Crescent is lead by an experienced and robust team, made up of professionals from the Australian Muslim Community, which is committed to ensuring that all returns are absolutely Shariah compliant and that such investments are attractive, sustainable, diversified and consistent," he said.

(This story appeared in The Malaysian Reserve on 29 March 2010. The Malaysian Reserve is a daily business/finance newspaper published out of Kuala Lumpur, with a sectoral page on Islamic finance on Mondays, edited by Habhajan Singh)

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Australia's economic standing continues to soar high because the people and government are indeed in very good terms. Thanks for the update. By the way, I just want to share to you this Australianbusiness coach who is continuously changing lives for the better. Good luck!