Standard Bank Group has acted as joint lead manager on the National Treasury of South Africa's debut Sukuk in the international capital markets. The US$500m 5.75-year Sukuk is the largest Sukuk issuance from sub-Saharan Africa and only the third Sukuk to be issued by a non-Islamic country. It follows Sukuk issues by the UK in June this year and Hong Kong earlier this month.
The Sukuk will be used to fund South Africa's National Revenue Fund. It also creates a benchmark for the market which will assist state-owned companies to access diversified sources of funding from Islamic investors. The resounding success of the transaction positions South Africa as a future hub for Islamic finance in Africa. David Munro, Chief Executive Officer for Corporate and Investment Banking at Standard Bank Group, says: "This deal is evidence that Africa is at the forefront of financial innovation. The Sukuk from the National Treasury is a key milestone not only for South Africa but it sets a precedent for similar deals from the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. We see Islamic finance as a growth opportunity for Africa and are committed to helping our clients access funding from Islamic investors."
The Sukuk is based on the Ijara principle, the sale and leaseback of Shari'ah compliant assets, a structure widely accepted by both Islamic and conventional investors. The Islamic finance industry has seen significant development driven by investor demand. The Sukuk market in particular has grown on the back of high levels of surplus savings in Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, leading to investors seeking out Shari'ah compliant products. This is also buoyed by growing wealth within the Islamic world, further enhanced by greater understanding of Sukuk instruments and clarity of documentation, as well as credit ratings from international agencies.
Megan McDonald, Global Head of Debt Primary Markets at Standard Bank Group, says: "There is evidence of continued growth in demand for Islamic assets by both Islamic and conventional investors, particularly as Sukuk instruments have become better understood and with the introduction of credit ratings. We are proud to have played an integral part in assisting the National Treasury of South Africa with this landmark transaction that will help pave the way for future Sukuk issuance in Africa." Standard Bank Group established a Dubai office in 1997 to service clients in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and connect them to the growing opportunities in Africa.
Rassem Zok, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Bank Dubai, says: "This inaugural landmark Sukuk issuance by the National Treasury is testament to Standard Bank's ability to connect the substantial Gulf-based pools of liquidity to our key clients across the continent."
The National Treasury is responsible for managing South Africa's national government finances. The Sukuk launch follows a roadshow by the National Treasury to a number of international markets including the UK, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Malaysia. Investor allocations were 59% from the Middle East and Asia, 25% from Europe and 8% from the USA.
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