Exclusive: UAE bourses merger shelved as terms not agreed - sources
By Stanley Carvalho
ABU DHABI (Reuters) - A planned merger of the Dubai Financial Market and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) has been shelved for the foreseeable future as terms for the politically sensitive move could not be agreed, sources told Reuters on Thursday.
Having been mooted for a number of years, a merger of the DFM and the ADX seemed to take an important step closer last year as investment banks were hired to advise on a tie-up - a move revealed by Reuters last October.
The state-backed deal, seen as one of the biggest changes in the country's financial industry in recent years, was expected to energize financial markets in the United Arab Emirates, making it easier for investors to operate across the markets, stimulating trade and attracting more foreign investment.
However, despite a number of key impediments being overcome since then, talks have stalled and a deal is now unlikely to happen any time soon.
"It's been shelved," said one Abu Dhabi-based banking source aware of the matter, adding that reaching an agreement was always going to be tricky given multiple points of contention, such as valuations, the location of the merged entity's headquarters, and the board's composition.
A spokesman for the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the top policymaking body in the emirate which mandated Abu Dhabi's advisers, did not respond to calls and an email seeking comment. Spokesmen for the ADX and DFM declined to comment.
The sources, who all spoke on condition of anonymity as the information isn't public, said it was unclear whether the merger plans were permanently on hold or whether they would be revived later.
The valuation of the DFM, the Gulf's only listed bourse, has increased significantly since the advisers were first appointed, as trading increased during a bull run which saw the value of Dubai's benchmark index jump 59.5 percent between Jan. 1 and May 6. Continued...