Western governments and companies are poised to test Islamic bond markets

With the ongoing credit squeeze from the debt crisis and uncertainty still stalking capital markets, many Western firms are eyeing up the Islamic liquidity pool as an alternative source of finance. The Irish energy group ESB had applied to local regulators in Malaysia for permission to issue a bond, with the aim of raising €1 billion. Had the issuance gone ahead, the ESB would have become the first Irish company, and one of the non-financials in Europe, to issue a Sharia-compliant bond. Nonetheless, prospective investors reportedly showed interest in investment in asset-rich companies like the ESB. Ireland already commands a share of pie when it comes to fund management, with some 20 per cent of Europe’s Sharia-compliant funds domiciled in Dublin’s Irish Finance Services Centre (IFSC).