Dubai: Liechtensteinische Landesbank (Switzerland) Ltd is selling index-tracking investment products to give Muslims exposure to stocks in India and China that comply with their religious beliefs.
India and China are among 10 countries with large Muslim populations covered by three new Landesbank certificates trading on the Swiss SWX exchange, Nico Tschui, deputy head of Landesbank Middle East, said on Monday.
India and China have five companies each on the list of 48 stocks, selected according to the principles of sharia, or Islamic law.
Islam bans lending on interest as usury so conventional banking stocks are deemed haram, or forbidden, as are companies with high proportions of interest-bearing debt.
Companies dealing in alcohol, pornography, pork, gambling, tobacco, and arms dealing were excluded from Landesbank’s indices, the bank said in a statement.
“It is very difficult to find Indian and Chinese companies that comply with all these criteria. But there is such huge demand for exposure to these markets because of their growth potential,” Tschui told Reuters.
Landesbank launched the first of its certificates last year, billing it as the first index-tracking investment product to comply with sharia. It mirrors the performance of 20 stocks in the oil producers of the Gulf Arab region.
Demand for Islamic investments have surged as oil prices tripled since 2002. Islamic financial institutions, including insurers, manage more than $800 billion, according to the Islamic Development Bank.
All four Landesbank instruments are available in two forms; either as a pure index-tracking note or, if investors demand it, with capital protection provided by Landesbank and Dutch bank ABN Amro Tschui said.