Reuters – Bankers and academics in
Islamic finance has so far made only marginal progress in continental
Only about 2% of
Italian firms raising loans could use Islamic structures to attract sharia-compliant banks from the Gulf, for example. Italian bonds and equities could become attractive to Islamic funds if they were certified as sharia-compliant.
"I think the development of sharia-compliant products is an important opportunity for
"There is quite a big interest from Islamic funds and Islamic institutional investors to invest in
"A specific index still does not exist, but the interest is very high. The luxury sector is a brand required by foreign institutional investors and it is a very important growth driver for our country."
Gulf investors have already shown considerable interest in
Fondazione Istud, a
This would be the first structured attempt to provide industry information and influence legislation,
"Certainly regulators and practitioners seem to demonstrate a general interest on this subject in our nation, but at the same time tend to have a very conservative approach.
"At this stage, we are trying to involve stakeholders and gather funds at different levels, in order to begin with the activities," Caramazza added.
These activities should include a review of existing regulations, mainly those covering real estate registration taxes, said
Tax rules are particularly important for Islamic finance because many of its asset-based transactions are vulnerable to double taxation under conventional accounting methods; addressing such barriers could lure Islamic banks to the market.
Currently, however, only broad discussions are taking place with Italian policy makers and no specific agenda is in place, said
While political and legislative hurdles remain,
Its research department has conducted formal studies, held seminars on Islamic finance as far back as 2009, and last year co-hosted a forum with the Malaysian-based Islamic Financial Services Board, one of the industry's standard setting bodies.
Rony Hamaui, chief executive of
However, deals could start to materialise – perhaps involving Italian firms overseas – even without government support, as companies increasingly seek to broaden their funding sources, Hamaui said. "Liquidity is becoming a more and more important problem in
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