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Islamic Wealth Management Event in Geneva April 24 and 25.

The Islamic Private Banking industry will be the focus of a major conference this month. Michael Gassner Consultancy has organised the third annual Islamic Wealth Management event in Geneva at the Hotel du Rhone on April 24 and 25. The event has grown year by year and offers intimate insights into the Islamic Private Banking industry, its differences and commonalities with the conventional industry.

The Silver Sponsor, Sanad Sukuk Fund, is the world’s first GCC-oriented, diversified Sukuk fund. Sukuk—which are also known as “Islamic bonds”—have, until now, been difficult to purchase for the vast majority of Muslims leaving them unable to enjoy the benefits of bond-like investments.

Previously Muslims were able to buy only deposit equivalents, stocks, real estate and private equity assets that met Sharia standards. A major gap has existed in the investment universe of Muslim savings, a gap that finally was closed with the launch of the Sanad Sukuk Fund.

Mark Mortimore, executive director of the Sanad Sukuk Fund and a member of the fund’s board of directors, said:

“Now we offer Islamic investors a reliable, Sharia-compliant alternative to a conventional bond fund, and provide them with both the returns and liquidity that western investors have enjoyed for decades.

“Since bonds make up almost 45 per cent of worldwide managed assets, this indeed is a historic step for Islamic Wealth Management.”

The entire programme of the 3rd Islamic Wealth Management Event comprises of challenging lectures on traditional and alternative asset classes, on specifics of Islamic financial planning, market strategy and last, but not least, philanthropy and carbon allowances as new asset opportunity.

Islamic finance is considered a growth industry.

Although statistics are not well proven, most experts estimate a size of $500 billion plus x as a reasonable figure.

The main financial markets dealing in these matters are London, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Geneva remains a distinguished place where many Middle East based investors let companies manage their assets – conventionally and increasingly Islamically.

Experts’ estimations are around $200 billion alone in Assets under Management from Mideast clients and an increasing percentage of these funds are asked to be managed Islamically.

The main requirements are upholding certain industry exclusions, avoidance of bank interest, and legal uncertainties in contracts.

The wider objectives of Islam in investments are similar to the sustainability concept and includes stewardship for mankind and environment, which we received in trust by God.

Sukuk , the plural of the Arabic word Sakk, means “certificate” or sometimes “credit note”.

It is also the root for the English word “cheque”.

Sukuk replace interest income with rent or profits; they are therefore the alternative for Muslims seeking a stable income complying with their faith.

Sukuk finance real economic activities and, depending on the underlying structure, they are tradable at market value from the Islamic perspective.

Secondary market trading is still weak in the GCC region, as Sukuk are relatively new.

Significant new Sukuk issuance has only recently increased, while near-term expected new issuance is forecast to increase dramatically. Japan, China and Indonesia are among many market entrants expected to enter the Sukuk market in 2007, while at least 100 or more companies based in the Arab world are believed now to be preparing new Sukuk issues.

Sanad Investment Company — or the Sanad Sukuk Fund — is the first GCC-oriented diversified Sukuk fund in the world.

It will provide both stable income and liquidity for Muslim investors.

It closes the significant market gap for Muslim investors in their asset allocation by finally providing a bond-like investment vehicle that is fully Sharia-compliant.

The Sanad Sukuk Fund will invest not less than 75 per cent in Sukuk and a maximum of 25 per cent in Sharia-compliant credit syndications, with a focus on the GCC countries.

Expanding the Sukuk market by creating a Sukuk fund will lead directly to increased economic development in the GCC region. The fund is being domiciled in the Cayman Islands along with the fund manager Encore Fund Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of Encore Management S.A. in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Sanad Sukuk Fund targets institutional and individual investors of all kinds. Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, Michael Gassner Consultancy is a leading advisor for Islamic banking & finance. The work is focussed on publishing, training and marketing advice. Structuring and strategy consulting is done via partner firms.

The firm organises the Annual Islamic Wealth Management Event in Geneva, created a major knowledge resource in the web and publishes the free of charge newsletter “IslamicFinance.de – Executive News”, which is read widely all over the Islamic finance community. (TradeArabia News Service)

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