KARACHI - The Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan and Dubai Islamic Bank will act as Lead Managers to manage the launching of Sukuk bonds being issued in next few weeks in the country, a finance ministry official told The Nation. Senior official privy to the development confirmed that the total size of sukuk will be around Rs18 billion that would be offered to domestic Islamic banks, institutions and investors in the country. The federal government had invited the local and international banks to submit proposals for the selection of Lead Manager, as a result Standard Chartered Bank and Dubai Islami Bank had been short-listed and appointment as LMs, official said. There is a huge potential of Islamic bonds as series of Islamic banks and institutions have started their operations in Pakistan, official said and added that conventional banks can also enter in financial services in Islamic banking. It may be noted that the three leading full-fledged domestic Islamic banks had arranged Rs91 billion worth of Islamic Bonds or Sukuks in year 2007 amongst which some of Sukuks issues were sovereign in nature while some of them were privately placed.   These banks have participated in energy and power, fertilizer, telecom , infrastructure, consumer goods and textile sectors, in addition to that, steel and real state sector are the major borrowers of these Sukuk issued by the Islamic banks. In Pakistan, the issuers are using ijara, musharaka, mudaraba, murabaha, istisna, salam structures to finance companies. Experts are of the views that Sukuk is an emerging market in Pakistan. Massive investment and financing opportunities in corporate sectors are attracting more issuers which shows that the demand for Islamic mode of credit or lending from the companies or entities is becoming intact as they find sukuk are an alternative to financing their business or their projects, and financial institutions are increasingly turning to sukuk to sustain strong lending growth with stable funding sources and to curb maturity mismatches. According to a renowned banker, the Sukuk demand is gradually increasing in the country and it is expected that Sukuk financing would cross the level of Rs 65 billion during the last calendar year 2008. If the current rate of growth in the Sukuk bond continues, the annual issuance of Sukuk would reach Rs 100 billion mark in the 2009, he claimed. The break up of the total domestic Sukkuk issuances by the Islamic banks during the year 2007, depicted, Meezan Bank participated in Rs 57 billion worth of Sukuk financing. Dubai Islamic Bank during the year 2006-07, arranged Sukuks worth Rs 24 billion, which is 41% of the total domestic Sukuk issuances. BankIslami managed SUKUK transactions worth Rs. 5 billion in the last quarter of 2007. Standard and Poor's, the global rating agency has said that the global market for Islamic bonds, or Sukuk, could top 100 billion US dollars in the next few years after exceeding 60 billion dollars last year.