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Abu Dhabi’s financial hub to accept tenants from today

This is the first phase in a series of activities as ADGM looks to ramp up its efforts in preparation for launch in the second half of this year.

By Haseeb Haider - Principal Correspondent, Abu Dhabi

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 11:11 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:17 PM

Abu Dhabi — Abu Dhabi Global Market, or ADGM, nation’s second tax-free financial zone, will begin accepting licence applications from today from existing non-financial services tenants of Al Maryah Island that have either a Private Limited or Branch Office legal structure.

This is the first phase in a series of activities as ADGM looks to ramp up its efforts in preparation for launch in the second half of this year.

All Island tenants who are eligible to apply during this first phase will have a 12-month grace period during which to decide and apply for an ADGM licence.

Other types of companies, including financial services institutions and those that are not currently tenants of Al Maryah Island, will be able to apply for an ADGM license later in the year.

The Global Market will enable registered companies to transact business within a zero-tax environment and operate within a world-class regulatory framework with its own judicial system and legislative infrastructure, under three independent authorities — the regulator, the registrar and the court. The zone’s foundation will initially be built on three anchor sectors, namely private banking, wealth management and asset management but will also retain the flexibility to expand its activities over time according to demand from the market.

Commenting on the free zone, Eugenio Berenga, managing director at Abu Dhabi-based consultancy firm, Alix Partners, termed it as a tipping point of a long journey.

In the shape of DIFC Abu Dhabi has a good benchmark before them, he said.

When asked what response he is expecting from asset management and wealth management companies to move there, Berenga said it boils down to how flexible the free zone will be.

“It boils down to how flexible they are in attracting and letting them to do their activities with minimum constraints. So it boils down to how smart they organise the regulatory frame work to comply with the different rules and regulations but at the same time give flexibility,” he said.

The consultant said there are a number of companies, who are discussing to move there.

Dhaher bin Dhaher Almheiri, CEO of ADGM’s Registration Authority, said: “This is the first in a series of licensing phases, which will be announced in the coming months. Our primary focus at this stage is on existing Al Maryah Island tenants.” 

“Over the past few weeks, we have reached out to them, met with them and spoken to them to ensure that they are fully aware of our activities and our service offering, that they understand the registration and licensing process and requirements and also understand the options available to them.”

He added: “Our business development team will continue to work closely with tenants and will guide them during this transitional period in line with our commitment to making this as easy an experience as possible.”

Sunday’s announcement follows the signing of an MoU last month between ADGM and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development that covered a wide variety of aspects including: the registration and protection of company names and licences, both onshore and within ADGM; developing the process for transferring and renewing the trade licences of those companies already operating in Al Maryah Island; and establishing a mechanism to cooperate wherever they may need to in the future.

The Abu Dhabi Global Market is located in Abu Dhabi’s central business district on Al Maryah Island and supports the development of Abu Dhabi’s financial services sector, an important element of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

Abu Dhabi Global Market will offer a legal system based on a legislative framework that is aligned with international financial services standards. Legislation has been drafted with input from international financial institutions and industry bodies in the UAE and capital markets globally.


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