A&O and CC win roles on landmark Malaysian sukuk amid country push

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance have been called in to advise on Malaysian telecom group Axiata’s issuance of a 2-year RMB1bn sukuk, one of the largest of its type in the South East Asian country.

Qudeer Latif
Qudeer Latif

A&O Singapore-based partner Jeremy Stoupas led the firm’s team, advising the issuer on international law in the deal. The magic circle firm worked alongside Malaysian counsel Zaid Ibrahim & Co.

Clifford Chance, jointly led by Dubai partner Qudeer Latif and Hong Kong partner Matt Fairclough, acted as international counsel for the joint lead managers in the issuance. Local firm Adnan Sundra & Low advised the joint lead managers on Malaysian law.

According to the company, its issuance represents the world’s largest RMB-denominated sukuk issued in Malaysia so far. The sukuk are listed on Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad (under the Exempt Regime) and the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Latif, Clifford Chance’s global head of Islamic finance, said: “This issuance set a new precedent in using a Wakala structure in a currency of choice, which provides more flexibility for issuers in aligning its financing with its business needs.”

The issuance is in line with the Government’s ongoing initiatives and efforts in positioning Malaysia as an international Islamic financial centre.

Background to this deal:

The issuance is the inaugural issuance from Axiata’s USD1.5 billion multi-currency Sukuk Issuance Programme established in August this year. All four firms were involved in the establishment of the programme.

It is the second sukuk to date to be issued in the offshore RMB-denominated bond market (dim sum bonds). The first was issued by Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad in 2011, amounting to RMB500m. Linklaters, led by Singapore-based partner Kevin Wong, and Kadir Andri & Partners, led by partner Azleen Mohammed Saleh, advised the underwriters on the deal.

For more analysis on the growing deal activity in Malaysia, see The Lawyer this Monday