Plenty of Opportunities for Islamic Finance in London

London Mayor Boris Johnson called for a greater U.K. role in the Islamic-finance market as a Malaysian delegation visited the capital city. Bloomberg

The London Stock Exchange listed $24 billion of sukuk in the past two years, Johnson said in his office today at a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The capital should be at the heart of the Islamic finance market, which is set to grow to $1.6 trillion by 2015, he said.

“Some of the most famous and iconic structures in London are actually built thanks to Islamic finance,” Mayor Johnson said. “The Shard is the product of Shariah-compliant finance. We certainly have plenty of opportunities.”

Built with Qatari-backing, the Shard is western Europe’s tallest building, standing at 309.6 meters (1,016 feet) on the South Bank of the River Thames. Developer SP Setia Bhd. (SPSB)and palm oil producer Sime Darby Bhd. (SIME) led a Malaysian group that bought London’s Battersea Power Station for 400 million pounds ($611 million) last July. The two companies own the site with the Employees Provident Fund.

Johnson said he and Najib tomorrow will join Prime Minister David Cameron to unveil the start of work on the Battersea site. Cameron visited Malaysia, the biggest center for the more than $1 trillion-a-year Islamic finance market, last year to build on a pact to promote bilateral engagement in the industry and created an Islamic Finance Task Force in March. Shariah-compliant bonds pay returns on assets to comply with the Koran’s ban on interest.

London will host more than 1,500 government leaders, scholars and executives at the World Islamic Economic Forum in October, the first outside Muslim world, Najib said.

Malaysia will be a major player in London real estate with investors like the Employees Provident Fund, which oversees $176 billion for more than 13 million Malaysians, Najib said.

“We will probably see quite an upswing in terms of Malaysian companies looking at investing at real estate development and purchasing buildings in London,” Najib said.

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