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Islamic finance awards 2013: Wafra Capital Partners

Best leasing house

Wafra, a New York-based adviser indirectly majority owned by the Public Institution for Social Security of Kuwait, is an acknowledged leader in Islamic leasing, and keeps getting better.

A graph of Wafra’s leasing assets under management from 2005 to today is almost boringly consistent: a 30 degree angle up, up, up. Wafra is involved in the management of 23 equipment leasing funds with over $2 billion in capital. Some are ijarah leasing funds, targeting investment-grade and similar lessees; others are structured leasing funds that venture into higher-yielding growth and emerging lessees. The idea is that they pay monthly yields like treasuries, but with better returns and with Shariah compliance. Despite the use of emerging lessees in some funds, Wafra has never yet had a default on either principal or return.

Leasing funds are not always straightforward, and Wafra is skilled at finding diverse ways through the tangles of Shariah compliance. A recent $100 million financing for Reliant Asset Management to buy Ameri-Tech Industries, a modular building manufacturer and lessee, required a combination of ijarah leases, back-to-back sale leasebacks and special purpose vehicles.

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