(Bloomberg) — Concerns about corporate governance have become one of the keys issues keeping investors out of stock markets in the United Arab Emirates after recent cases of mismanagement, including fraud by Abraaj Group, said Shehab Gargash, the chairman and founder of Dubai-based Daman Investments.
“Our clients have come to us and said ‘we need to be more comfortable where we place our money’,” Gargash, said in an interview in Dubai after a meeting with journalists on Sunday.
He highlighted the need for stronger corporate governance locally, with shareholders having access to information in a “fair, accurate and timely manner.” Daman Investments has institutional investors, companies and high-net-worth individuals among its clients.
Abraaj, which once managed $14 billion, caused the world’s biggest private equity insolvency to date. It was fined a record $315 million last week for deceiving investors and misappropriating funds.
More from the interview with Daman’s Gargash:
- Many local companies “failed” corporate governance tests, resulting in a more restricted universe for investors to choose from
- UAE authorities, the regulator and the government are “alert for the need of better governance,” while “a couple of cases” resulted in regulator action
- When considering listed companies, the responsibilities of the board of directors are sometimes not taken “as seriously” as they should be, with many companies having board members that hold positions on other boards or in conflict with their own businesses
- Additionally, levels of market manipulation and insider trading should be addressed “more firmly than they have been in the past”