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UK firm to set up first Halal industrial park

London, February 17, 2010

A venture capital firm is raising funds to launch Europe's first industrial park for Islamic goods, The Super Halal Industrial Park (Ship), tapping an under-served food market worth up to $6.27 billion a year in Britain, its chairman said.

The Ship will be based in South Wales and will take three to five years to launch, said Mahesh Jayanarayan, chairman of Halal Industries, who chose Wales for the project because of its meat industries and affordable land prices.

The cost of the project would be 150 million pounds -- a sum he plans to raise in the capital markets, by sourcing government grants and by finding anchor-partners like supermarket chains and multinational food manufacturers to 'cement the deal,' he said.

'If you look at some figures, the halal sector in the UK is worth between 2 to 4 billion pounds, the majority of that is imported,' Jayanarayan said at the Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit in London.

'You have 2.5 billion people on the planet eating halal food, directly or indirectly. This halal market is not going away, it is not some fad,' he said.

The global industry is worth an estimated $2.1 trillion, and is expected to grow as the Muslim middle class grows richer.

Europe has no Halal industrial parks, despite being home to millions of Muslims. Ship will help to make the UK a landmark Halal center for the region, Jayanarayan said.

A successful first project could lead to further launches across Europe, possibly France and Germany and emerging Europe. 'We would prefer to go to places like Bosnia, where there's a large Muslim population and we could seek EU grants,' he added.

Halal Industries has partnered with the Penang International Halal Hub (PIHH), the agency set up by the Malaysian state to promote halal-related industries. PIHH will provide advisory and development support throughout the project.

The park would provide services such as storage, product packing, meat selection and processing as well as research and development.

'This would be a private equity play but also a property play, purely because we are trying to pre-sell the project to industrial people to come in,' said Jayanarayan.

Halal Industries is a newcomer with no projects yet off the ground, and is backed by Scandinavian investors through Jayanarayan's UK-based partnership Bergstrom Associates.

The firm is also planning to set up an Islamic stock exchange in either London or Luxembourg to try to encourage the development of Islamic enterprise.

'We have a technical partner, a sharia board and we have identified a board of directors, but there is still a lot of work to be done (on the exchange),' said Jayanarayan.

The exchange would abide by Islamic law by restricting practices such as short-selling and the use of leverage.-Reuters




Tags: UK firm | Halal industrial park |

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