Japanese firm makes first Islamic property deal
11.19.07, 6:02 AM ET

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TOKYO (Thomson Financial) – A Japanese company Monday completed a property deal with a Kuwait-based firm seen as the first in Japan in compliance with Islamic law, in a bid to bring in more money from the oil-rich Gulf.

Atlas Partners Japan, a fund and asset management company, said it worked with Kuwait’s Boubyan Global Real Estate Fund to buy three office properties in Tokyo worth a total of 4.38 billion yen.

The deal was tailored to avoid any loans involving interest payments, which are forbidden under Islamic law, or Sharia.

‘What we completed is the first real estate transaction in Japan that complies with Sharia, which potentially will mean more investment in Japan from the Middle East,’ Mikihisa Hirai, president of Atlas Partners Japan, told Agence France-Presse.

Real estate has long been seen as a lucrative investment in Japan, the world’s second largest economy which has a miniscule Muslim population.

The investment framework was provided by a Japanese subsidiary of Hypo Real Estate Bank International AG of Germany, company officials said.

‘Our collaboration with Boubyan Bank over this innovative investment will be important for investors seeking Sharia-compliant investment opportunities in the Japanese real estate market,’ Hirai said.

Sharia-compliant financing can be found in Europe and the United States, along with Asian countries with large Muslim populations such as Malaysia.

Last year, Japan’s Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi (other-otc: MSBHY.PKnews people ) UFJ — the world’s largest bank by assets — broke into Islamic finance by tying up with Malaysia’s largest banking group, Commerce International Merchant Bankers.

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