Muscat: Global sukuk issuance fell short of market expectations last year, although it was higher than in 2015.
And the sukuk market will remain subdued in 2017, since the issuance process is still quite complex, according to Standard & Poor’s (S&P).
When oil prices started falling in 2014, several market observers predicted an issuance boom from 2015, arguing that governments in oil-exporting countries would tap the sukuk market to maintain their spending levels. “However, as we anticipated, this did not happen. Issuance of sukuk increased only marginally in 2016 compared with 2015, and was even much lower than that of conventional bonds in some core Islamic finance markets.”
"The sukuk market did not play a countercyclical role in core Islamic finance markets in 2016, and we forecast a stabilisation of total issuance in 2017 at around $60 billion-$65 billion," said S&P Global Ratings' Global Head of Islamic Finance, Dr. Mohamed Damak.
“We believe the complexity of sukuk issuance will continue to weigh on issuance volumes, unless counterbalanced by tangible results on standardisation or the establishment of large issuance programmes. Returning issuers, new entrants, and regulatory developments can stimulate activity, but more likely in the medium term."
Standard & Poor’s do not foresee a substantial increase in sukuk issuance in the GCC this year, rather, the rating agency thinks that some member countries might take the Islamic finance route alongside a conventional one. Bahrain will most likely remain a prominent player after issuing $3.2 billion of sukuk in 2016. Other GCC members will probably tap the market in 2017.