In 2008, IFSL’s Islamic Finance report notes that the industry has felt the influence of the credit crisis and downturn in the global economy. For example, sukuk issuance has more than halved and the value of equity funds has fallen. Islamic banks, however, have been less affected than many conventional banks as they are prohibited from activities that have contributed to the credit crunch, such as investment in toxic assets and dependence on wholesale funds.
London has been consolidating its position as the key western centre for Islamic finance in 2008. Two Islamic banks, Gatehouse Bank and European Finance House, have been granted licences, bringing to five the number of fully Shariah compliant banks in the UK. Principal Insurance became the first Shariah compliant independent company authorised to offer takaful to UK residents. In capital markets, four new exchange traded funds and two new equity funds were launched.
IFSL’s report indicates that the UK’s offering includes a total of 22 banks, far more than in any other western country. Professional services are provided by 18 law firms and the Big Four accounting firms. A cumulative total of 18 sukuk issues raising US$10bn have been listed on the London Stock Exchange, second only to Dubai. With 55 institutions offering educational and training products in Islamic finance, the UK has more providers than any other country worldwide.
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