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Mon 2 Sep 2013 01:47 PM

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DIFC says open to tie-ups with Abu Dhabi

CEO of Dubai financial centre says the opening of Abu Dhabi free zone will make it up its game

DIFC says open to tie-ups with Abu Dhabi
Jeff Singer, CEO at DIFC.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) would be open to co-operation with Global Marketplace Abu Dhabi (GMAD), an upcoming financial free zone in the neighbouring emirate, according to DIFC’s CEO.

Announced in February by royal decree, GMAD plans to lure financial services firms to the UAE capital and will have its own regulator and courts, as well as promising zero tax and easy repatriation of profits. It is set to launch in the fourth quarter of this year.

DIFC, launched in 2004, is currently one of the region’s leading financial centres with more than 800 financial services companies and law firms currently based in the free zone.

“We’re open to collaboration with [Abu Dhabi]. It will help us take our game up a level,” Jeff Singer said at a press conference at DIFC’s headquarters on Monday. He added that there was a “pattern” for the two financial free zones to work together, although did not specify what this meant, and that he did not expect the opening GMAD “to upend the growth of DIFC”.

In the first half of 2013, the number of active companies registered at DIFC increased by 7 percent to 979, creating more than 1,000 jobs, DIFC said. Total leased commercial space was up by 6 percent to 122,300 sqft, while overall occupancy in DIFC-owned commercial offices rose to 97 percent.

DIFC said that 36 percent of its regulated companies had their headquarters in Europe, 27 percent in the Middle East, 16 percent in North America, 11 percent in Asia and 10 percent in the rest of the world.

Singer said that DIFC was increasingly targeting large firms in South and East Asia looking for a gateway into the wider Middle East and Africa. Four out of five of China’s largest banks now have a presence in the centre, with China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China having opened in DIFC this year.

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