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DIFC Authority Restructures To Target Growth

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

10 August 2012

The Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA) has completed a major restructuring to segregate its two core functions under the auspices of two independent entities as part of plans to build upon the centre's rapid rise to prominence.

Under the restructuring, effective immediately, the business development and legislation arm is to remain named the DIFC Authority, and will continue to be responsible for developing the Dubai International Financial Centre's relationship with other leading financial centres, its strategic development, and the operational management and administration of the DIFC. A new entity, DIFC Properties will manage the Centre's real estate portfolio and be responsible for overseeing the property development of the DIFC free zone, of which roughly 40% remains to be constructed, and also the development of supporting infrastructure.

Together they will implement DIFCA's growth strategy to raise the level of DIFC's membership which currently stands at 860 active companies, increase the number of people working at DIFC to an estimated 25,000, complete the remaining development of the 110 acre site, ensure the Centre continues to be supported by efficient and reliable infrastructure, and continue to enhance DIFC's international reputation as a global financial hub.

In making the announcement, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of the Board of Directors of DIFC Authority, commented:

“Going forward, our goal is ambitious but achievable. We plan to double DIFC’s scale in terms of the number of member companies and their employees. We also plan to develop the Centre's function and reputation as host to international capital markets. To achieve this, we have decided to change the structure of the senior management team."

Jeff Singer, who has been appointed as the CEO of the DIFC Authority, said: "In a very short time, DIFC has attracted a significant membership base comprising many of the world's top financial institutions, insurance companies and advisory firms. The Centre has significant future growth potential as emerging markets continue to develop and open up, notably in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and also as mature markets eventually regain their appetite for regional investment. DIFC commands a strong position and I look forward to raising awareness of the many opportunities DIFC offers to new and existing members and to developing the business transacted from the Centre."

Nabil Ramadhan, appointed at the CEO of DIFC Properties, added: "Our challenge is to balance the needs of our current and new member companies with the supply of the high-quality real estate and supporting infrastructure they need to grow successfully. We have created a very dynamic working environment at DIFC. We will ensure that the Centre continues to evolve and that the contribution we make to the UAE economy continues to grow as a result."

Since its launch in 2005, DIFC has become the leading international financial centre in the region. In 2011, Dubai was ranked as one of the top 10 international financial centres (8th) by The Banker (FT Business) out of 53, based on the level of international business and the value offered to international institutions seeking to expand their international operations. The Banker ranked Dubai ahead of centres like Zurich, Tokyo, Geneva, Luxembourg, Dublin and Chicago, and named it as the 3rd best location in the world for inward Foreign Direct Investment in financial services.

DIFC has also become an important element of the United Arab Emirates' economy, contributing in 2011 around USD1.3bn, equivalent to 1.4% of the nation's non-hydrocarbon Gross Domestic Product as estimated by International Monetary Fund. DIFC’s Economic Activity Survey Report for 2011, released in July, puts the total value added (GDP equivalent) of the Centre’s sub-economy at USD3.13bn, up 7% from USD2.92bn in 2010.

TAGS: United Arab Emirates | tax | business | company formation | financial services | capital markets | insurance | employees | international financial centres (IFC) | offshore | legislation | Dubai | services

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