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Australia's Waratah Resources to launch Islamic commodities venture

Australia's Waratah Resources to launch Islamic commodities venture
Commodities are commonly used rather than conventional interbank money markets because of Islam's ban on interest.

Sydney-based Waratah Resources Limited plans to launch an Islamic commodities trading business as it shifts focus from Asian markets to the Middle East, the company said in a statement.

The move adds to a growing number of firms keen to tap into an Islamic finance market that is developing beyond its traditional homes in the Middle East and southeast Asia.

Waratah will setup a company domiciled in the Malaysian offshore finance centre of Labuan under a 50/50 joint venture agreement with Malaysia's Amanie Holdings, an Islamic finance advisory firm.

"Our next goal is to secure funding arrangements with partners who have been introduced by our sharia partners over the past few months, to provide the required capital for our joint venture vehicle," said executive chairman Ben Kirkpatrick.

In September, Goldman Sachs raised $500 million in a debut sale of Islamic bonds, or sukuk, with proceeds of the deal to be used in its commodities business of J. Aron & Co.

Islamic commodity trading plays an important role in the sector as a source of short term funds for Islamic banks, which cannot use conventional interbank money markets because of Islam's ban on interest.

They have mainly used commodities from the London Metal Exchange to structure such short-term funding deals, typically through commodity murabaha contracts, a common sharia-compliant financing structure.

Islamic financing has struggled to get a foothold in Australia due in part to tax issues. Structures such as sukuk can attract double or even triple tax charges because they require multiple transfers of title of the underlying asset. - Reuters

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