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Australia's Crescent Wealth launches Islamic fund in Malaysia
The launch comes as Islamic finance is making inroads in non-traditional markets such as Australia, where the government recently proposed removing tax barriers to such asset-backed financing arrangements.
Crescent Wealth, established in 2011, opened an office in Malaysia last year seeking to widen its customer base and is aiming to replicate this approach in other markets.
"Malaysia is a global center for Islamic finance. Our success here will build a strong precedent for other markets," said Talal Yassine, managing director of Crescent Wealth.
"We continue to build our plans to launch similar collaborations in the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, South Africa and Indonesia."
The fund would provide Malaysian investors with exposure to Australia's property market, feeding into a commercial property fund launched by Crescent in 2013.
Malaysian investors are the fourth-largest source of approved property investment into Australia, according to the Foreign Investment Review Board, after those from China, the United States and Canada.
Crescent launched Australia's first Islamic pension fund in 2012 and currently has around A$200 million in assets under management across its investment funds which include cash, real estate and domestic and international equities.
Islamic finance has gradually expanded in Australia, with National Australia Bank Ltd helping fund a A$160 million ($114 million) Brisbane property purchase in February, after its maiden Islamic finance deal in August of last year.
The government's proposed tax changes will only become effective in 2018, but this could increase the number of such transactions by ensuring tax treatment is similar to other interest-based financial arrangements.
Islamic financial contracts follows religious principles such as bans on interest and gambling, which often require multiple transfers of titles of underlying assets that can attract double or even triple tax charges.
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