Islamic finance on the move in France

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“The principle of contractual freedom that prevails in France facilitates the transfer of the core concepts of Islamic finance into the French legal system. Moreover, France has the advantage to have the largest Muslim population in Europe and represents a high level potential in Islamic finance area,” he explains.

Like Caralp, Santelli highlights the role of Christine Lagarde in the French islamic finance framework.

“As to the Islamic finance market in France, only a minority of French banks have offered corporate Islamic finance products for investments projects. In most cases, these banks have acted via their Islamic finance window outside France.

“Currently, various foreign banks (e.g. from North-Africa or Middle East) provide retail Islamic finance products via their European affiliates acting in France under the freedom to provide services regime. In particular, Shariah-compliant financings are more and more used in a part of the French real estate sector (e.g. hotels, luxury properties, etc.)”

Santelli also refers to insurance groups such as Vitis Life or Groupe 570, having created Islamic finance insurance and saving accounts and to the first sharia compliant crowdfunding platform that has been launched by Easi Up in 2014.

Santelli says he believes that a number developments will appear on Shariah funds and sukuk markets in Europe.

However, he underlines that “no sovereign sukuks are planned to be issued in France but a few transactions have been done on the private sukuk sector.”

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