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Fitch: Sukuk issuance in key markets up 11 Percent in H 1

Sukuk as a proportion of total issuance in the GCC, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan were also slightly ahead of the same period a year ago but could not maintain the first quarter's very strong market share due to the return of sovereign issuance of conventional bonds by GCC members in recent months, according to the analysis released on Monday.

Total new sukuk issuance, with maturity of more than 18 months, in these key markets rose to $21.74 billion in H1, 2016 from $ 19.54 billion in H1, 2015.

Issuance was evenly spread across the first half of the year, with $11.07 billion in Q1 and $10.67 billion in Q2. "We only look at longer-term issuance because frequently rolled-over short-term debt can distort underlying trends."

Sukuk represented 30 percent of total issuance in these countries in the first half, up from 28 percent in H1, 2015.

The proportion would have been even higher but for the return of Abu Dhabi and Qatar to the sovereign bond market with issues of $5 billion and $9 billion, respectively. Both sovereigns probably opted for bond financing to help attract international investors.

Among other sovereigns that could come to the market are Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which are considering capital market funding.

The decision whether to issue bonds or sukuk, or a mix, depends on factors, including the target investor and funding base, international or regional and local, the existence of a sukuk structure and Islamic finance strategy, and the needs and size of the Islamic finance industry because Islamic banks are not allowed to invest in traditional bonds.

Investor appetite for the countries included in this analysis moderately improved earlier this year, due to a hunt for yield in light of low rates in mature markets and by stabilization of commodity prices. The UK's vote to leave the European Union has also reinforced the pressure on interest rates. These factors should help issuance volumes.

Sukuk issuance should be supported in the medium to long term by the recent introduction and revamping of sukuk laws in some countries, the growing Islamic finance industry in these countries and increasing sovereign funding needs.

Greater harmonization of sukuk standards, structures and legal frameworks resulting in improving transparency would also help improve issuers and investors' acceptance of such instruments.

"We continue to expect issuance to be relatively quiet in the third quarter due to the combination of the summer and Eid breaks, with a pickup toward year-end. Overall our expectation is for 2016 sukuk issuance to at least match 2015 issuance of around $32 billion."

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