A brief update on Islamic finance in the UK and France.
The UK Islamic finance sector has seen the development of regional hubs in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh. According to a report produced by International Financial Services London, at the beginning of 2008 the UK hosted five stand-alone Islamic retail and wholesale banks, over twenty conventional banks with Islamic windows, and one stand-alone Shariah compliant insurance provider; nine fund managers providing opportunities for investment in Shariah compliant funds and one Shariah compliant hedge fund manager; and a number of advisory firms (law, accountancy, consultancy, etc) with considerable experience and expertise in dealing with Islamic finance.With over USD18 billion in Shariah compliant assets, the UK comes eighth in The Banker’s league table of Islamic assets worldwide, the highest of all Western countries.
After London, France could be the next platform for Islamic finance in Europe. It is expected that the financial authority in France will grant licence to several Islamic banks by June 2009. As of to-date three Islamic banks have submitted application for approval namely the Qatar Islamic Bank, which already has a subsidiary in London, Kuwait Finance House and Al-Baraka Islamic Bank from Bahrain.