Thursday, December 16, 2010

ICP Islamic Finance - "Conventional" Analysis

This morning we had a working session for our ICP - Islamic Finance with some lawyers, a corporate banker and professors. The two teams presented their analysis of the conventional financing structure of the primary security instruments used to finnace our projects. Under this conventional analysis, we looked at the costs of capital and the associated terms related to these types of paper with the intent of understanding the requirements need to make them Sharia compliant.

We also had great explanation from a senior lawyer regarding the structuring and "asset-based" (versus "asset-backed") nature of nominating (rather than selling) assets under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in order to comply with the necessary requirements of Islamic finance. We had considered the capital gains implications of a sale leaseback transaction, as well as understood how an asset and capital intense infrastucture project would look similar under an adjusted EV to EBITDAR metric regardless of the off-balance sheet financing that may potentially be required.

We have a solid understanding of the work requirements due before our next meeting in early January (before I fly off for London). We also had an opportunity to fire questions back at the professionals in the room in terms to learn what were the appropriate resources for generating comparables for analysis and benchmarking of our theoretical capital structures based on similar Sharia compliant instruments and current market conditions.

Some of the best advice we got:
  • Understand the difference between "asset backed" versus "asset based" and how that affects your ability to issue Sharia compliant instruments
  • Be aware of tax implications of capital gains/losses in a sale leaseback transaction
  • Like any financial security, understand the key characteristics of seniority and expected return for a sukuk issuance and understand market appetite for these structured products

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