GFI opens new Islamic broking desk in London

GFI will help develop the secondary market in Islamic sukuk bonds and other financing products. The desk will be headed by Chris Steer, who joined GFI in 1998 and helped set up the broker's European high-yield desk.

“We expect the interest to come from major financial institutions in London, as well as Gulf-based, and South-East Asian local and international, institutions,” Steer said

GFI has also hired Ali Merchant and Alain Marckus. Merchant joined GFI last month after working as a consultant in the Middle East. Marckus, meanwhile, works for Christopher Street Capital, a division of GFI Securities, and has 10 years' experience in emerging markets finance.

The first Islamic investment bank in London opened earlier this year (See: London’s first Islamic investment bank opens).

Moody's Investors Service, the credit ratings agency, reported that $41 billion of sukuk bonds have been issued globally since 1990, with the Gulf region witnessing an average annual growth of 45% over the past five years.

Sukuk bonds are structured like eurobonds but prohibit the payment of interest, which is banned under Islamic law. The coupon paid is based on asset-backed securities and arranged in some cases as a floating-rate note type instrument, paying quarterly.

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