Global sukuk issuance looks ‘uncertain’ for 2018, says S&P Global

The outlook for Islamic bonds remains 'uncertain' for the coming year, according to ratings agency S&P Global. (Reuters)
Updated 09 January 2018
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Global sukuk issuance looks ‘uncertain’ for 2018, says S&P Global

LONDON: While 2017 was a bumper year for global sukuk issuance, the outlook for Islamic bonds remains "uncertain" for the coming year, according to ratings agency S&P Global.
Global sukuk issuance in 2017 reached $97.9 billion, an increase of 45.3 percent, from the $67.4 billion recorded in 2016. The increase was underpinned by large issuances by GCC countries, particularly the $9 billion sukuk issued by Saudi Arabia in April. This remains the largest issuance globally to date.

"Driving this performance were good liquidity conditions in the GCC and, more generally, globally, as well as activity by some countries with the goal of further developing their Islamic finance industries," said Dr Mohamed Damak, head of Islamic finance, at the ratings agency.
Non-GCC countries also contributed to the rise, said S&P Global, with Hong Kong tapping the market again last year and Nigeria issuing its first sukuk. Morocco and Tunisia are expected to issue sukuks this year, according to the report.
The report said while core Islamic finance countries will continue to have “significant” financing needs in 2018, the sukuk market could be held back by tightening global liquidity and rising geopolitical risks in the Middle East.
The report cited sanctions imposed on Qatar by a group of Arab states in June 2017, as well as continued animosity between Iran and GCC countries as factors that may undermine investor interest in the product.
It also suggested that the “slow progress” on standardizing Islamic finance products will limit the market’s potential. S&P Global expects issuance volumes to hover nearer $70-80 billion in 2018, according to the report.


Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

Updated 19 September 2019

Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

  • Hit by US sanctions, Huawei's Mate 30 will not be allowed to use Google’s Play Store
  • Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
BERLIN: Chinese tech giant Huawei launches its latest high-end smartphone in Munich on Thursday, the first that could be void of popular Google apps because of US sanctions.
Observers are asking whether a phone without the Silicon Valley software that users have come to depend on can succeed, or whether Huawei will have found a way for buyers to install popular apps despite the constraints.
The company has maintained a veil of secrecy over its plans, set to be dropped at a 1200 GMT press conference revealing the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models.
Huawei, targeted directly by the United States as part of a broader trade conflict with Beijing, was added to a “blacklist” in Washington in May.
Since then, it has been illegal for American firms to do business with the Chinese firm, suspected of espionage by President Donald Trump and his administration.
As a result, the new Mate will run on a freely available version of Android, the world’s most-used phone operating system that is owned by the search engine heavyweight.
While Mate 30 owners will experience little difference in the use of the system, the lack of Google’s Play Store — which provides access to hundreds of thousands of third-party apps and games as well as films, books and music — could hobble them.
Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
The tech press reports that this yawning gap in functionality has left some sellers reluctant to stock the new phones, fearing a wave of rapid-fire returns from dissatisfied customers.
Huawei president Richard Yu said at Berlin’s IFA electronics fair this month that his engineers found a “very simple” way to install the hottest apps without going via the Play Store.
Huawei could offer its own app store in a preliminary version, setting itself up as a competitor to the dominant Apple and Google offerings, observers speculate.
Over the longer term, the company could build out a similar “ecosystem” of devices, apps and services as the Silicon Valley companies that would bind users more closely to it.
The world’s second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung, Huawei earlier this month presented its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, a potential replacement for Android.
The Mate 30 will not yet have HarmonyOS installed.
But it could make for a new round in the decades-old “OS wars” between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS, then Android versus Apple’s iOS.
Meanwhile, Eric Xu, current holder of Huawei’s rotating chief executive chair, has urged Europe to foster an alternative to Google and Apple.
That could provide an opening for Huawei to build up Europe’s market of 500 million well-off consumers as a stronghold against American rivals.
“If Europe had its own ecosystem for smart devices, Huawei would use it... that would resolve the problem of European digital dependency” on the United States, Xu told German business daily Handelsblatt.
He added that his company would be prepared to invest in developing such joint European-Chinese projects.