Investors scramble for Nigeria’s Islamic bond, defy religious criticism and bid $2b

Nigeria’s third Sukuk bond has fetched $2.1 billion, an oversubscription of the targeted $533 million offered to investors, despite the paper eliciting religious controversy.

The oversubscription of 446 per cent may reflect the high prospects the Islamic bonds present to Africa’s most populous country.

The sovereign Sukuk is meant to finance 44 critical road projects in the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. Its launching earlier this year attracted various investors, including ethical funds, insurance companies, fund managers and retail investors.

But it came with religious intonations. Sukuks are different types of bonds that don’t earn interest, which is not permissible under Islamic law. Instead, they present financial certificates to investors who give out the money to be a part of some asset ownership. The government, in this case the issuer, then promises to buy back the assets at a later date based on an agreed value.