Related provisions for MCOB 7.6.12
The main provision within the definition of alternative debenture arrangements that seeks to ensure that only instruments that display the characteristics of a debt security can be alternative debentures is set out at PERG 2.6.11CG (5). It provides that the amount of additional payments under the arrangements must not exceed an amount which would, at the time the bond is issued, be a reasonable commercial return on a loan of capital. Where the return is not fixed at the outset, it is the maximum possible amount of the additional payments that must be considered in deciding this question. The following example demonstrates how this condition should be approached.
- additional payments under the arrangements would exceed a reasonable commercial return on a loan of the capital.
Further, where the return is not fixed at the outset, it is the maximum possible amount of the additional payments that must be considered. Here, the issue terms of the sukuk impose no upper limit on the amount of the periodic distributions: a sakk holder subscribing 1,000 may, in a year, get back 200 or 2,000 or nothing depending on the rental market. The maximum potential return is clearly in excess of a reasonable commercial return on a loan of 1,000; and
- the arrangements have not been admitted to an official list or admitted to trading on a regulated market or recognised investment exchange (see PERG 2.6.11CG (6)).
If, in the above example, investors returns were capped at 500 per sakk per year, then this is the amount that must be considered in deciding whether the return exceeds a reasonable commercial return on a loan, even where the amounts actually received turn out to be far lower.
In applying the reasonable commercial return test, the sakk should be compared to a hypothetical loan to the issuer on similar terms and carrying similar risks. For example, a conventional security convertible into shares will normally carry a lower rate of interest because the conversion right has a value. The return on an exchangeable or convertible sakk should be measured against the return on an equivalent exchangeable or convertible debt security.
The risk to investors in sukuk may vary slightly from that of a conventional bond in some instances. This may be due to the fact that sukuk holders only have recourse to the bond assets or some other structural feature which results in the risk profile being higher. In such instances it may be justifiable for the rate of return to be slightly higher than that of a conventional loan.
As with any financial instrument, the pricing of sukuk will depend on the issuers view of the market at the time of issue and reasonable commercial return may vary depending on the issuer and the economic circumstances prevalent at the time of issue.
ABC Ltd is a property development company. It wishes to increase its portfolio on a short-term basis. It issues 5-year sukuk to investors and uses the proceeds to buy the head lease of a commercial property. The rental income from the lease is distributed to investors in proportion to their holdings without a cap on the level of return. After 5 years, the head lease is sold on at a profit and the proceeds shared between investors.
In this example, the investors participate directly in the success or failure of the underlying property business. The sakk is not really in the nature of a debt instrument. It is unlikely to be an alternative debenture as: