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Oman’s new sukuk regulation to spur issuances

Filed under Capital Markets, Islamic Banking and Finance, Sukuk

Oman Islamic finance - sukuk regulation

A detailed regulation governing the issue and management of sukuk transactions came into force on April 11, 2016. Issued by the Capital Market Authority (CMA), the body authorised to regulate sukuk by an earlier amendment to the Capital Market Law (Royal Decree 59/2014), this is the latest development in Oman’s evolving Islamic regulatory landscape. Investor protections and procedural clarity introduced by the new rules are forecast to spur sukuk issuances particularly among private sector corporates seeking to diversify their financing bases and risk.

The new regulation codifies the trust structure to be adopted for an issuance and the powers and duties of the trustee to manage and invest the trust property and allows the issuance of a sukuk programme. It details the procedure for applying to the CMA for the issuance approval and grant of a licence to establish a special purpose vehicle in the form of a limited liability company or any other dedicated legal entity. The choice of shariah supervisory board (SSB) tasked to ensure that the issuance is shariah-compliant, is left to the issuer. Sukuks may be denominated in omani rials or a foreign currency. There is no restriction on the amount of the sukuk based on the beneficiary’s capital. The CMA has the option to require the issue to be credit rated.

The new regulation will provide a much-needed liquidity management tool and investment avenue base for both conventional and shariah-compliant investors. As a late entrant to the Islamic finance segment, Oman has benefited from the experience and best practice in other jurisdictions and this latest legislative move is no exception. The detailed and transparent nature of the regulation is expected to provide additional comfort to investors and give Oman an edge over regional sukuk markets which lack dedicated sukuk regulations and which, instead, issue sukuk by reference to conventional bond regulatory frameworks with shariah-compliant add-ons. According to Kemal Rizadi Arbi, an adviser at the CMA, “We are confident that this new regulation will have a positive impact on Oman’s capital market and the economy”.

Since this landmark development, approval has been granted for a major corporate to issue a US$150 million sukuk by way of private placement and interest among Oman companies to tap into capital market financing is rapidly rising. For more information on sukuk and other Islamic finance instruments, contact Mansoor Jamal Malik or Asad Qayyum.