MANAMA, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Dubai’s debt fiasco and real estate bubble bust pushes investors to look out for alternative assets underlying Islamic finance products – could renewable energy provide a way-out?
Predominantly, Islamic finance and investment products have been backed by infrastructure or commodities assets. But executives at the 2010 Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit said product diversification was needed to cut the over-reliance on real estate in the Gulf.
“Sharia scholars are eager to support the renewable energy initiative, but the Islamic banking industry (in the Gulf) does not seem to be overly interested in this area although I am aware of a couple of deals involving acquisitions of clean tech companies in the U.S. and wind farms in the UK," said Ayman Khaleq, partner at the Vinson & Elkins law firm in Dubai.
“The big banks have teams that focus on renewable energy as an asset class. However, the problem is that Islamic banks are not big enough to be able to cover specific sectors such as alternative energy,” he added.
In order to launch an alternative energy sukuk, the Gulf's small local banks would need to team up with bigger international players such as Deutsche Bank, Barclays, or BNP Paribas, which have been active on the renewable horizon.