BELL WEATHER

Jordan 2019 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

ASE is working to attract foreign investment to local Jordanian companies.

Nader Azar
BIOGRAPHY
Nader Azar has been the CEO of the ASE since 2012, after having been the Deputy CEO since the establishment of the ASE in 1999. He has represented ASE in many conferences and workshops related to the financial markets industry. He currently represents ASE on the World Federation of Exchanges Working Committee and on the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges (FEAS). He was the Vice-President of the Federation from 2010 to 2012, Chairman of the Working Committee from 2006 to 2010, and is currently the Chairman of the Audit Committee. Azar received his undergraduate degree in financial institutions management from the University of Houston.

ASE celebrates 20 years in 2019. What have been some of its main highlights in recent years?

Many developments have taken place at ASE in recent years. 2017 will be marked as a cornerstone of the history of Jordan Capital Market, which was established according to the law of 1976 and inaugurated trading on January 1, 1978. On February 20, 2018, ASE was registered as a public shareholding company fully owned by the government, and ASE became a for-profit company. This transformation will enhance the economic benefits offered by ASE to the national economy and will enable it to offer better services, attract new companies and new clients, as well as form alliances and strategic partnerships with regional and international stock exchanges.

What does the ASE strategic plan entail?

In 2015, the ASE Board of Directors approved the ASE Strategic Plan for the Years (2016-2018), which is in line with the Jordan 2025 Vision. The plan includes many projects such as: implementing a new electronic trading system, implementing an XBRL disclosure system for the listed companies and brokerage firm, and many other projects. In 2017, as a result of the transformation of ASE into a for-profit public shareholding company, the strategic plan was revised upon the new legal form, and a new plan was prepared for 2018-2020 with the main goal of enhancing the investment environment in ASE and developing different work aspects thereof. The new plan includes the main projects of the capital market development roadmap that was issued in 2017 by the Jordan Securities Commission (JSC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). This plan entails a significant number of projects.

How do you plan to achieve sustainability?

ASE is developing and promoting the investment environment in Jordan as well as encouraging the listed companies to adopt best practices in the relationship to all relevant stakeholders. In 2016, ASE joined the Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative (SSE)—an initiative launched by the United Nations in 2009 to raise awareness of sustainably and promote environmental, social, governance (ESG) disclosure. Since then, ASE has taken steps toward increasing the awareness of the importance of sustainability in the Jordanian Capital Market. Key to this is the issuance of the Guidance on Sustainability Report, which includes steps for companies regarding sustainability reporting and the information to be included in addition to how they disclose their sustainability performance.

How do you attract investors from outside of the country?

Since its establishment, ASE has always been regarded as one of the most robust and well-organized stock exchanges in the region. ASE is characterized by its regulations, which are in accordance with international standards; its high-tech trading system; sophisticated technical infrastructure; and the adoption of professional conduct from all market participants. ASE is in the final stages of implementing the XBRL disclosure system that will enable investors from around the world to receive timely, accurate, and bilingual disclosures in Arabic and English.

What specifically are you doing to bring SMEs to the market, and how do you integrate international best practices?

SMEs play a vital role in generating economic growth in the world's economies. SMEs play a significant part in creating jobs, building thriving private sectors, and diversifying economies. One of the projects in ASE's strategic plan is “Issuers outreach." This will focus on encouraging SMEs to become shareholding companies and list on ASE.