Qatar to float its $1bn stock exchange

Doha market to receive latest technology and support from its new American investors
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The Independent Online

The Doha Securities Market, one of the Gulf's biggest stock market, valued at about $1bn (£600m), is looking to float within the next two to three years.

DSM, which will change its name to Qatar Exchange today, will seek a primary listing in Doha as well as dual-listings in New York and Paris. A spokesman for Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign fund that owns the exchange through Qatar Holding, confirmed on Friday night that a flotation is being considered but would give no details. Qatar Holding's other big investments include those in Barclays, Credit Suisse and J Sainsbury while the QIA has a big stake in the London Stock Exchange.

QE's plans follow the $200m deal which was finalised on Friday in Doha between it and NYSE Euronext QE after a year of negotiations. The London Stock Exchange had been one of the early bidders to take a stake in QE but missed out to the NYSE's much higher offer.

The NYSE is now a 20 per cent shareholder in QE, its biggest investment in a foreign exchange since its 2006 merger with Euronext. As part of the strategic partnership, the NYSE will provide the exchange with its latest generation of trading technology known as Universal Trading Platform (UTP) to create a seamless exchange between Doha, New York and Paris.

A QIA spokesman said: "We have no doubt that this will take the Qatar equity market to a new level. This project is going to reinforce our presence on the world map. It is a huge coup for the country, and reinforces our plans to expand globally with many other projects such as our bid for the World Cup in 2022." QE plans to build on the country's gas-production expertise by developing an energy derivative with the support of Liffe, the London International Financial Futures Exchange, part of the NYSE.

With a market capitalisation of $75bn, the exchange lists 42 companies which include some of the region's biggest names such as Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Industries, the Nakilat shipping company and Qatar Airlines. Over the next few years, Qatar is expected to be the second-largest economy in the Gulf Co-operation Council, giving NYSE exposure to one of the world's fastest-growing areas.

NYSE's Andre Went, who served as managing director of its Amsterdam bourse, will be the new exchange's chief executive while Dr Khalid Al-Attiyah, the Minister for International Co-operation, will be chairman and Ahmad Al-Sayed, the managing director of Qatar Holding, will be vice-chairman.

Qatar's Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, said the opening of the new exchange "paves the way for Qatar to take a prominent role in the world's capital markets for the benefit of both the people of Qatar and the Middle East more generally."

The joint venture is part of the gas-rich country's plans to compete with the financial-services sectors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.