Trading in dirham

THE move by Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX) to implement a series of market reforms is a positive development.

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Published: Wed 6 Aug 2008, 9:46 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:55 PM

In fact, it could and should have been implemented earlier. The reforms unveiled on Monday include the potential to trade and settle in dirham which will be received positively by investors uneasy about the value of the US dollar on the one hand and the possibility of a revaluation of the dirham on the other.

The other welcome development of instituting a book building process will also stimulate activity. Coupled with Sunday trading and extended trading hours is likely to enhance investor interest but will it mark a turning point? One issue is regional and international competition and the enormous growth in electronic trading. It seems inevitable that some form of exchange consolidation must occur particularly in the GCC region. The problem with this scenario is the differing stages of regulatory evolution of the various GCC exchanges. The largest, the Saudi Tadawul accounts for around 60 per cent of the region's traded volumes and has implemented a series of reforms to improve transparency following a major correction.

Whether the DIFX achieves its goal of becoming the region's pre-eminent bourse will also be dependent on further anchor listings that have been much speculated. With the recent listing of Damas this inertia appears to be easing but it will take quite a few more major listings to claim success. However the Nasdaq/DIFX brand is likely to be a powerful one with this series of reforms. Success will be measured by how quickly it can add to the current five primary listings. Some other pieces remain missing from the jigsaw most notably a derivatives platform, however this is to be introduced later in 2008 according to DIFX. With this in place the DIFX becomes an all-together more comprehensive exchange.

One thing is clear -- it can take a long time to build a successful international exchange but with global exchanges consolidating at the current rate there should be no delay particularly at a time of such regional liquidity.

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