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South Africa Names Six Companies to Advise on Sukuk Sale

South Africa’s National Treasury appointed six companies, including Standard Bank Group Ltd., BNP Paribas SA and Albaraka Banking Group, to advise it on its debut Islamic bond issue.

Nova Capital Partners LLC, Liquidity Management House for Investment Co., and Regiments Capital (Pty) Ltd. were also appointed, Tshepiso Moahloli, a senior analyst in the Pretoria-based Treasury, said by phone today.

The Islamic bonds, or sukuk, may form part of the Treasury’s plan to raise $3 billion in international markets over the next three years, she said. South Africa, where less than 2 percent of the 49.1 million people are Muslim, is looking to tap the Islamic finance industry’s $1 trillion in assets.

“We’re engaging with the banks now; the amount, currency and timing will depend on the outcome of our discussions,” Moahloli said. “From what we have observed, issuance tends to be from $500 million to about $700 million and movement around the five-year sukuk area looks like it’s the most favored area.”

The structuring and issuance of the sukuk may be used as a benchmark for state-owned companies that also plan to issue Islamic bonds, Moahloli said.

Public Finance Law

Sukuk are usually backed by assets sold to a special-purpose company by the issuer, which then rents them back in lieu of paying interest. The debut Islamic bond issue was delayed after the government decided to review public finance law, which doesn’t provide for the government to issue asset-based securities, Thuto Shomang, head of asset and liability management at the Treasury, said on May 17.

Moody’s Investors Service rates South Africa A3, the second-highest investment grade on the continent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The country should not limit itself to an international sukuk, Jay Henning, an executive at Cape Town-based money manager Oasis Group Holdings, said by phone.

“While we agree with an international issue, there is definitely demand for a South African issue as well,” Henning said. “We have capacity for it and I’m sure other Sharia-compliant asset managers do as well.”

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