UAE plans to boost capital markets with ICOs

October 08, 2018
Chris Wheal

The head of the United Arab Emirates Securities & Commodities Authority (ESCA) has announced that the country plans to introduce initial coin offerings (ICOs) next year to provide companies with a fresh way to raise money.

The regulator is working with the Abu Dhabi and Dubai stock markets to develop ICOsSpeaking at a seminar on Monday, Obaid Saif al-Zaabi said that the ESCA board has approved considering ICOs as securities and “as per our plan” it should have regulations on the ground in the first half of 2019.

The regulator is working with the Abu Dhabi and Dubai stock markets to develop trading platforms for the ICOs. Further details will be announced in the future, he said. ICOs would offer companies an alternative to initial public offerings (IPOs) which, due to weak equity markets coupled with low oil prices, have been very limited. This has impacted not only the UAE but the whole Gulf Arab region.

A new law may take effect in 2019 to facilitate IPOs in which family owners sell majority or 100% stakes in the companies they control, Zaabi said. “The Ministry of Economy has written to the prime minister’s office and we are awaiting approval.”

Other initiatives mentioned in the speech include having a minimum of 20% women on the boards of listed companies.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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