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» World'Vest Base Builds Sharia Index for Egyptian Islamic Finance Association

Author: Giulia Lasagni
Source: Inside Market Data | 03 Jul 2014

The Egyptian Islamic Finance Association (EIFA), a Cairo-based Islamic banking organization, has rolled out an index of sharia-compliant Egyptian stocks compiled by company information and research provider World'Vest Base, with the goal of attracting investment from firms in Gulf Arab countries that look for religiously responsible investment opportunities.
The index is calculated applying standards issued by Bahrain-based international body the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and approved by EIFA's sharia council. For instance, the standards screen out companies engaged in activities prohibited under Islamic law-such as breweries, distilleries or other companies active in the alcohol industry-and require that businesses do not derive more than 5 percent of their total revenues from various non-sharia activities, including charging interest. In addition, the standards limit the amount of debt and deposits that a company can have with non-Islamic banks to 30 percent of the company's total market capitalization.

Mohammed Altaweel, Cairo-based product manager at WVB, says the vendor analyzes and applies the criteria to financial position and income statements for all the companies traded on the Egyptian Stock Exchange, then compiles a list of fully compliant, mixed and non-compliant stocks traded on EGX. It then produces an index of the 30 most liquid compliant stocks, though he adds that many companies included in the exchange's EGX 30 index are also classified as "sharia-compliant" based on WVB's index-creation process.
WVB and EIFA inked their partnership in February, and WVB began supplying data to EIFA in May. Now, EIFA's members-including Islamic banks, funds and exchanges-can access the data via their data terminals for free, in a bid promote Islamic finance instruments by increasing investors' familiarity with the index concept. "Part of the solution of economic problems in Egypt is to attract investments from outside Egypt," Altaweel says.

In addition to investors from the Gulf, the data may also appeal to sharia funds in Egypt, Altaweel says.
WVB hopes to start calculating a similar sharia-compliant index for the MENA region in the future, initially focusing on countries such as Tunisia and Morocco, Altaweel says. In the long term, the provider's ambition is to produce a global sharia-compliant index, he adds.

WVB is a database of financial, statistical and market information aimed at financial markets professionals, academics and government agencies that covers more than 44,600 active listed and 30,000 inactive companies, which the vendor says represents 99 percent of listed companies worldwide.

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