Morocco is preparing to issue its first sovereign Islamic bond, or sukuk, worth 1 billion dirhams ($105 million) in the coming weeks after adopting a regulatory framework governing sukuk sales, Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid said on Thursday.
"The legal framework is now prepared for Morocco to issue its first sovereign sukuk in the coming weeks," Boussaid told Reuters by phone.
Morocco will finally launch its first Islamic bonds, better known as sukuk, after Bank Al Maghrib (BAM) and the board of Higher Council of Ulemas’ top experts gave approval to five participatory banks to set up their Islamic finance subsidiaries one year ago, Bloomberg reported.
Sukuk is the Arabic name for financial certificates defined by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), as “securities of equal denomination representing individual ownership interests in a portfolio of eligible existing or future assets.”
Regional banks are looking to capitalise on Morocco’s plans to introduce Islamic banking (also known as participation banking) services in the country. Morocco’s central bank, Bank Al Maghrib, is developing the regulatory framework for the industry to be ready by 2016.
Morocco's government adopted a bill on Thursday to regulate Islamic insurance, legislation that will face a final vote by parliament later this year, a cabinet statement said.
It is the last step in Morocco's legislative package to regulate the country's fledgling Islamic finance industry. Earlier this year, it issued a decree allowing the creation of a sharia board to oversee the sector.
Morocco is poised to have its first full-fledged Islamic bank as early as September as the only North African country rated investment grade seeks to tap the US$1.8 trillion industry.
Dar Assafaa, an affiliate of the country’s largest lender AttijariWafa Bank, will probably become the nation’s first wholly Sharia-compliant financial institution when the central bank approves its switch, according to the Moroccan Association of Participative Financiers. The country introduced a law in January to regulate Islamic financial products and allow local and foreign banks to set up units that comply with the religion’s ban on interest.
After an official visit to the Kingdom of Morocco by H.E. Shaikh Ebrhaim Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, AAOIFI, and Dr. Hamed Hassan Merah, Secretary General, AAOIFI, from 11 to 14 January 2015, AAOIFI received the delegation of the Supreme Ulema Council of Morocco, on 25 January 2015 at its new offices in Seef District, Kingdom of Bahrain, where the two sides discussed potential areas of cooperation in all pertinent respects.
Last month, Morocco's parliament gave final approval to an Islamic finance bill that allows foreign banks and local lenders to set up Islamic banks in the North African country.
"Al Baraka Group is in the process of completing legal procedures to set up the new bank and we are in discussions with a group of Moroccan banks who had previously expressed interest in partnering with Al Baraka," Yousif told Zawya
Morocco last month inched closer towards the creation of a fully-fledged Islamic finance system after lawmakers approved a bill enabling the set-up of shariah-compliant banks. While the new legislation still requires final rubber stamping, Islamic finance in Morocco could help tackle two acute economic challenges: attracting more foreign investment and creating employment.
“Africa offers significant opportunities to the global Islamic finance industry. This law is one more important step for Islamic finance as new markets are opening up which are needed to deploy capital from other regions such as the Gulf,” said Afaq Khan, chief executive of Saadiq, the Islamic finance arm of Standard Chartered.
Two of Morocco's biggest banks, BMCE (BMCE.CS) and BCP (BCP.CS) are preparing to launch Islamic subsidiaries as the Moroccan parliament discusses a bill regulating Islamic banks and sukuk issues, banking sources said.
Parliament's approval will be the last step before fully-fledged Islamic banks can be established in Morocco, whether they are subsidiaries of domestic banks or foreign owned, a measure which could attract more Gulf Arab investment.
Morocco’s government on Thursday adopted a bill regulating Islamic banks and sukuk issues after months of delays, paving the way for a final vote by the parliament of the North African kingdom later this year.
Approval of the law will be the last step before establishing full-fledged Islamic banks in Morocco, be they subsidiaries of Moroccan banks or foreign rivals, a measure which may bring more Gulf Arab investment into the country.