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Foreigners to have 100% Ownership in UAE companies

Minister for Economy Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi yesterday said the UAE may allow foreigners the right to own 100 per cent shares of companies in certain sectors of economy including the services sector. "Under the new Companies Law, the UAE may allow foreigners to own 100 per cent of companies in the services industry," she said.

"We have received comments from the private sector, chambers of commerce and industry, last week...The comments from private sector are very important,", she told reporters at the launch of 'Investors' guide to the UAE'.

She said Companies Law will be sent to the cabinet by the end of the summer, though, she did not give any time frame for promulgation of the law, saying there were several procedural formalities involved.

The minister said companies in the finance sector will be allowed majority foreign ownership.

In reply to a question, she said that there is no need for a national exchange or a merger of Abu Dhabi and Dubai financial markets, as present set up has strategic dimension.

"We have no problem with the two stock exchanges operating in their separate domains," she told a questioner.

Shaikha Lubna also ruled the possibility to bring the regulatory functions of banking and non-banking institutions under the purview of one authority, as is being discussed in Qatar, on the lines of Financial Services Authority of UK.

"Though, at the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA) we have a strong presence of Central Bank of the UAE," she said.

She, however, hinted that there would be a separate regulatory authority for the insurance sector.

The minister further said she got interim approval from the cabinet last year for the greater role for ESCA in evaluating and processing the applications for Initial Public Offering s (IPOs), thus by-passing the earlier role of Ministry of Economy.

Earlier, Shaikha Lubna launched the 'Investors' guide to the UAE'. The annual guidebook highlights potential investment opportunities in different business sectors of the UAE and, at the same time, provides details of the legal requirements as well as up-to-date information for investors who intend to start a business in the country.

She termed the guidebook an attempt to compile all essential information regarding the UAE business environment in an easy-to-read format.

"We have tried to provide comprehensive and accurate information, which honestly reflects the industrial economic reality and which will be a useful tool for companies and individuals wishing to invest in the UAE," she said.

Published by Concept Media, the guidebook has eight chapters, each of which covers a different aspect of the UAE society and business environment.

Published by Concept Media, the guidebook has eight chapters and it covers a various aspects of the UAE society and business environment. The book will be available on sale soon at leading outlets in the UAE and will also be extensively distributed in international markets.

"In 2006, the UAE recorded a nominal GDP growth rate of 23.4 per cent with an overall nominal GDP figure of Dh599 billion," said Shaikha Lubna.

The tremendous increase in foreign investment, is a major factor in the development of the UAE, and has paved the way for investment in future projects.

"The International Monetary Fund estimates that the net Foreign Direct Investment inflows reached more than $11 billion in 2005," she said.

According to approximate figures by the Central Bank of the UAE, the IMF figures for the FDI for 2006 were $12.8 billion compared with $9.2 billion in 2004.

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