Bosnian bourse set to launch Islamic share index

SARAJEVO, March 11 (Reuters) - Bosnia’s Sarajevo Stock Exchange (SASE) and Bosna Bank International (BBI) signed a deal on Friday to launch an index of listed firms compliant with Islamic investment principles.

“Our goal is to make the equity market more attractive to both local and international investors, to boost the economy and make it easier for our companies to get hold of badly needed fresh capital,” SASE General Manager Tarik Kurbegovic said.

SASE and BBI, the sole bank in the Balkan country operating on Islamic banking principles, said they are assessing a list of firms for inclusion in the Islamic index with a view to an official launch in May.

SASE, based in Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation, is one of two bourses in Bosnia and has 400 companies listed. It is owned by Bosnian brokerages, Turkey’s Borsa Istanbul, Takasbank and the Turkish central securities depository.

Both SASE and the Banja Luka Stock Exchange (BLSE), based in the Serb Republic, Bosnia’s other autonomous half, have seen sharp falls in trade in recent years due to an economic downturn. (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Greg Mahlich)