ONWARD AND UPWARD

Dubai 2018 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hamed Ali, CEO of Nasdaq Dubai, on its expertise in listing companies, growing demand for REITS, and its derivatives platform.

Hamed Ali
BIOGRAPHY
Hamed Ali has led Nasdaq Dubai’s expansion as the fastest-growing exchange in the region since his appointment as CEO in 2012. During this time, the exchange has attracted 127 listings with a value of over USD77 billion, and expanded its product offerings to be the first exchange to list REITs and introduce local equity futures in the region. His leadership has played an instrumental role in attracting the largest number of securities compared to any other regional exchange and making Nasdaq Dubai the leading sukuk-listing venue globally.

What makes Nasdaq Dubai an attractive platform for companies that are looking to raise capital?

One of the most important things for a company that wants to raise capital is to ensure that it chooses the right market. The geographical scale of a company's operations should be reflected in the access to investors that an exchange gives them. Nasdaq Dubai does so well because we can give unbiased and unrestricted access to both local investors and investors from around the world. We are experts in IPOs and listed companies, and issuers are experts in their own respective areas, so we combine our knowledge with their industry knowledge. We make sure that all the platforms that are available to us from a PR, marketing, and visibility point of view are at the issuer's disposal. With our new MarketSite that focuses on visibility and telling the story of the issuer, we will grow further.

How do you assess your pipeline of equity and debt listings?

In 2017, we saw 18 equity and debt listings, and in 1H2018, we had 12 listings with a total value of approximately USD10 billion on the exchange and we expect that there will be more listings by end-2018. The interest from new sectors to explore the capital market has been expanding, which is a good sign for us and other exchanges in the UAE because it indicates a maturing sector. In terms of the products that will be admitted to the exchange this year, we will be exceeding last year's performance.

How do you expect the REIT market to evolve going forward?

REITs are one of the products that will play a key role for years to come. Exchanges need to gear up for that level of activity. Today, we are proud to have two REITs listed with us and that number will grow over the coming years. REITs are a creative product that allow real estate owners and investors to come together in a transparent and regulated environment that protects all parties connected to it. Dubai has had a fast-growing real estate market for the past three to four decades, with assets that are purpose-built and functional. We will be one of the key REIT markets going forward. In 2017, we collaborated with Dubai Land Department to facilitate REIT listings and are working with other government-related entities as well to make sure we promote REIT listings and make life easier for REIT issuers in the market. We have seen strong demand and expect this to continue.

What are your plans for the further expansion of Nasdaq Dubai's derivatives platform?

The derivatives market is one of first major product introductions in the UAE. We had to make sure that, apart from the exchange, the brokers and a core group of investors were ready to understand and utilize the products. If we look at the first year and a half and compare it to other regional launch of derivatives, Turkey comes to mind. Running the numbers side by side in terms of performance, volume, and market activity during the launch phase, we have outperformed Turkey by 10 times. Our commitment in this market is long term; hence, our focus with the launch of the derivatives market is solid. We have launched two index futures this year, one based on DFM's main index and the other based on ADX's. We have also announced that we will launch futures on 12 leading Saudi Arabian companies listed on Tadawul in September 2018. In terms of the overall market, all the metrics point to a great growth story. We will announce more products later this year and are really excited about how the platform will perform. We are pleased with the numbers, though there is a great deal of work still to be done.