French and UK Islamic Banking and Takaful Activity

French and UK Islamic Banking and Takaful Activity
Bookmark and Share
assignment_ind Ambrose
today 7th September 2015

NoorAssur opens first office in Paris, as Gatehouse Bank and Cobalt remain busy in UK

After opening its first office in Paris, NoorAssur announced it had plans to open around 20 other branches in France in 2016. Launched in 2012, NoorAssur had been offering Shariah-compliant products online only.

The bank stated it serves 3,000 clients of which 95% are retail investors and 5% are companies. According to its head of Business Development Mourad Chabchoub, non-Muslim investors account for 15%.

Jean-Baptiste Santelli, senior manager of the structure division at French law firm De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés said “Currently, various foreign banks provide retail Islamic finance products via their European affiliates acting in France under the freedom to provide services regime.” Such offering which are commonly known as Islamic bank window operations have been banned in Qatar and Oman.

Gatehouse Bank closes £8.6 million financing of UK petrol station portfolio

The Shariah-compliant London based Gatehouse investment bank announced the completion of £8.6 million senior financing to support the acquisition of a portfolio of five petrol stations in the UK. This transaction is the second financing which Gatehouse has completed in partnership with an equity sponsor based in the GCC region in the past six months.

Henry Thompson, CEO of Gatehouse, said: “This transaction is the latest in a series of financings which we have completed for Gulf-based firms. It demonstrates significant demand for our financing solutions. Because we are providing financing on a Shariah compliant basis, there is a natural fit with Gulf-based partners.”

Shariah-compliant Cobalt Underwriting

Elsewhere in the UK Islamic Finance space, it was announced Shariah-compliant managing general agent Cobalt Underwriting has been selected as the insurer of preference for the proposed London Paramount Entertainment Resort in Kent, England. Valued at £3 billion ($4.6 billion), the Paramount Studios-backed project is set to transform the Swanscombe peninsula, near Ebbsfleet.

“There are an increasing number of major projects that have been announced this year in London, the UK and Europe which are backed by Middle Eastern and Islamic investors,” said Bishop. “We feel sure that the demand for Shariah compliant options when it comes to insurance will continue to grow and we are working with leading underwriters both inside and outside of Lloyd’s and the London market to provide the capacity to meet these demands. We are delighted with the progress we have made, and believe that the London market has a major opportunity to deliver real value to the Islamic investors and insurance clients.”