TAIB invests in world's first 'halal' data centre fund

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah (3rd R) the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam pose for a group photo with his family members and TAIB staff during the International Halal Product Expo 2010 at the International Convention Center (ICC) in Berakas last month. Picture: BT file

TABUNG Amanah Islam Brunei (TAIB) is a cornerstone investor for the Securus Data Property Fund Pte Ltd (Securus Fund), the world's first Syariah-compliant data centre fund.

Managed out of Singapore, the fund has recently achieved its initial closing of US$100 million with institutional investors from the Middle East and Asia which includes TAIB as the cornerstone investor, and intends to increase its aggregate committed capital to at least US$200 million.

Securus Fund is established, managed and sponsored by Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation Ltd and AEP Capital Ltd, a member of the Saudi Arabia-based Al Rajhi Holding Group, to invest in data centre assets across Securus Funds' target markets in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

The term of Securus Fund will be five years from the initial closing and may be extended by two additional one-year periods with the approval of the board of directors of Securus Fund.

TAIB's commitment in investing in the Fund is mainly due to its strong compliance with the principles of Syariah investment, as the partners have access to a proprietary Syariah capital base in the Asian and Gulf Cooperation Council regions, enabling them to create investment products attractive to Syariah capital investors.

TAIB's Acting Managing Director Pg Hj Abdul Rahman Pg Hj Mat Salleh said that TAIB has been interested in investing in Syariah-compliant or halal investments.

"Being an Islamic institution, we are very particular with the investment we choose, as we only commit to invest in Syariah-compliant or halal investments. This is one of the first Syariah-compliant investments issued through Singapore, and we see it as potentially one of the best investments by TAIB so far," he said.

As a Syariah-compliant fund, Securus Fund has, among others, a three-man committee to guide and approve the Fund's investments. The committee comprises Associate Professor Dr Ashraf Md Hashim, a Madinah University scholar; Professor Dr Obiyathulla Ismath Bacha, an economist and academic from the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF); and Ustaz Mustazah Bahari, a member of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) appeal board and a consultant to the Mufti office.

The committee also include a scholar from TAIB to expand the scope of governance and compliance structure of the Fund's activities.

Pg Hj Abdul Rahman said that TAIB has strong confidence in the Securus Fund due to Keppel Data Centre Investment Management Pte Ltd (Keppel DCIM)'s experience as a data centre operator in Singapore with its exceptional track record of zero downtime.

"We have recently visited the centre to see up close how good the centre is, and we are satisfied to see its state-of-the-art data centre co-location and business contingency services, high standard of security, air handling and high density resilient power," he said in an interview with The Brunei Times.

Data centres are purpose-built real estate facilities housing rack-mounted information technology computer servers.

These specialised real estate assets are built and operated to high technical standards in terms of cooling, power, water-seepage prevention, fire prevention and security maintenance, and are connected to land and/or submarine fibre-optic cables for high-speed transmission of data. These mission-critical data centres provide long-term stabilised cashflows backed by long leases typically running for five to 10 years.

"In addition, AEP Investment Management Pte. Ltd. (AEPim) is 80 per cent owned by Al Rajhi, a diversified group with operations in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates involved in businesses such as real estate development, contracting and infrastructure and financial services," said the acting managing director.

"As a cornerstone investor, there are incentives that we can get out of venturing in to the Securus Fund. The exposure to deal with international institutions with accredited acknowledgement of their expertise is highly essential for TAIB in building up knowledge and skills aquired from the investment with Securus," he added.

He added that the expected rate of return of investment is an eight to 10 per cent a year, along with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) as one of its main exit strategy.

In a press statement by Keppel issued in June, Jonathan King, Principal and Director of AEPim, said, "By partnering Keppel, we can create investment products attractive to Syariah capital investors."

He added, "Data centre demand has been driven by the rapid rise of information-centric trends such as e-commerce, social networking and file sharing, increasingly stringent data-related regulatory requirements and technology advancements such as cloud computing. Supply of data centre space has been unable to match the growth in demand."

The Brunei Times

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