The opening session of the conference saw welcome addresses from the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Julia King and the Executive Dean of Aston Business School, Professor John Edwards before Dr Omneya Abdelsalam, Centre Director for the El Shaarani Research Centre for Islamic Business and Finance (EIBF), outlined the work that is currently being undertaken within the centre.
Over the course of the day, delegates heard from several speakers, all experts in this field. The first key note speaker was Michael McMillen, a renowned Islamic finance lawyer who has practiced in the sector since 1996. Michael’s presentation was entitled ‘Islamic finance and the financial needs of the European corporate – a misfit or a strategic fit?’. In his presentation, Michael gave an overview of the history of Islamic finance, before highlighting some of the differences, similarities and overlaps with the conventional system.
Delegates then heard from Nick Sanderson from Martineau Solicitors who presented a session entitled ‘Working Capital Solutions’. Nick explained the different solutions available within the ‘Islamic Finance toolkit’ before giving some case studies based on transactions he has been involved with.
The morning session came to a close with a showcase of Birmingham as a hub for Islamic business and finance and a table discussion. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Anita Ward, addressed delegates before Wouter Schuitemaker, Investment Director for Business Birmingham discussed how they are establishing Birmingham as a place to do business. Table discussions then enabled delegates to discuss their specific business needs and how Islamic finance might be a solution.
Following lunch, the second key note speaker gave his address. Emad Yousuf Al Monayea, Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Office of Liquidity Management House in Kuwait, is a prominent figure within the sector with more than 25 years of experience in investments and corporate finance in the public and private sectors. Emad’s presentation entitled ‘Islamic financial instruments – a real alternative’ focused on the Sukuk market and the history, prospects and challenges of sukuk issuance.
The second case study of the conference was delivered by Mohamed Amin and discussed ‘Islamic Securitisation’. In the case study, Mohamed addressed the practicalities of issuing sukuk in relation to tax laws and regulations.