| SYDNEY, June 28
SYDNEY, June 28 Australian fund manager Crescent
Wealth plans to launch the country's first Islamic pension fund
by December and allocate between 15 to 30 percent of it in
property, its managing director said.
Talal Yassine said Crescent Wealth hopes to build the fund
to between A$4 billion ($4.03 billion) and A$6 billion in five
Crescent Wealth, which was established last year, currently
has less than A$5 million under management and advice but
Yassine expects strong growth for his fund due to a lack of
available Shariah-compliant financial products in Australia.
"We see significant, pent-up demand," Yassine said this week.
Yassine said Crescent plans to invest in property assets on
Australia's east coast as well as in real estate investment
"Steady cash flows from property investments are attractive
to a lot of investors especially in the Shariah space," he said.
The fund will also allocate money to Australian and
international equities and cash management products.
The fund would buy properties outright as it cannot utilise
bank debt. Also, to be Shariah-compliant, more than 95 percent
of tenants in buildings owned by the fund cannot be engaged in
financial services or businesses involving tobacco or alcohol.
Australia has nearly 470,000 Muslims and the average
Australian has around A$80,000 in pension funds, according to
The pension fund will initially target domestic investors
but will be open to international ones. Yassine said his fund
could appeal to conservative non-Muslim investors
Islamic finance is a fast growing sector with global Islamic
banking assets expected to reach $1.1 trillion this year,
according to Ernst & Young.
Australian property has performed relatively well thanks to
the country's resilient economy. At the end of 2011, office
vacancies in Sydney were 8.7 percent, compared with 10.4 percent
in New York, 5.8 percent in London and 13.9 percent in
Frankfurt, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.
This month, Australian property drew investment from
Malaysia. Starhill Real Estate Investment Trust said
it would buy three hotels from the Marriott chain.
($1 = 0.9929 Australian dollars)
(Editing by Richard Borsuk)