CMA reviews investment options for Sohar Free Zone companies

Muscat: An introductory seminar was held on Tuesday in the Sohar Free Zone on the capital market and its financing options to enhance investment activities.

The event was organised by the Capital Market Authority (CMA) in cooperation with the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones at the Sohar Free Zone and targeted the heads of boards of directors and executive departments of companies operating in the Sohar Free Zone.

The symposium aimed to exchange views between the capital market sector institutions and the existing institutions in the existing economic zones and free zones in the Sultanate of Oman by emphasising the importance of the sector in ensuring the sustainability of companies’ performance and ensuring the provision of long-term.

Mohammed Said Al Abri, Vice President for Capital Market at the Capital Market Authority said the capital markets are the main pillar in supporting the economic development worldwide further to being the underpinning in creating a true partnership between the public and private sectors through furnishing financing for huge development and investment projects supporting the economy.

Al-Abri added the Omani capital market is ready, legislative, and technology-wise to finance huge productive projects to ensure the expansion of investment and lucrative investment opportunities for individuals and institutions.

He added that the laws and regulations governing the capital market have recently witnessed updates as well as expansion in licensing new products in line with the new fintech to meet the financing needs of the market and that the CMA is dealing with an adequate level of resilience to ensure the protection of the rights of all stakeholders as well providing enhanced public confidence.

Al Abri emphasised that the seminar aims to extend communication bridges for exchange and sharing of views between the capital market institutions and the enterprises at the economic and free zones in the Sultanate through emphasising the role of the sector in ensuring the sustainability of the performance of the companies and providing long term financing further to creating a true partnership with the private sector through unified policy and methodology in executing huge development project based mainly on financing from capital market.

Haitham Salim Al Salmi, Chief Executive Officer of Muscat Stock Exchange (MSX) pointed to the gradual development of MSX and the roles it plays in financing economic development projects whether for the government sector or the private sector.

He spoke about MSX’s strategy that is derived from the main pillars namely the growth of the national economy, the attractiveness of the stock exchange, the fintech, the commercial performance of the stock exchange and the development of the internal infrastructure of the stock exchange.

He added such pillars are the foundation for a set of objectives and initiatives to go ahead in the next five years in accordance with a work plan and timeline with clear indices to assess the extent of success.

He said the key objective we hope to achieve soon is to upgrade the MSX to emerging stock exchange as per the ratings of the global rating agencies. To this end, we will work to increase shares liquidity and the market value focusing on easing the entry of foreign investments and adding trading features such as short selling and securities borrowing etc. to enable the MSX to upgrade to global indices.

He emphasised the importance of listing the companies in the stock exchange and disclosures as well as environmental, social governance and corporate governance.

Mohammed Hamad Al Rahbi, Assets Management Manager at Ubhar Capital spoke about the financing instruments available in the capital market and the role of the capital market in the economy adding that the national economies rely on them in stimulating the wheel of the economy.

He elaborated about financing through loans or shareholding.

Ahmed Al Kindy, a Director at Muscat Clearing and Depository Company (MCD) spoke about the role of MCD in safeguarding the records of shareholders and providing appropriate services to protect the rights of investors in the stock exchange such as providing statements of holdings, transactions, share and cash dividends, corporate actions such as mergers, liquidations etc.

He elaborated on the services the MCD renders to the regulators, the stock exchange and listed companies.

Al Kindy added that MCD employs state of the art technology in the business such as providing virtual platforms for a general meeting, remote subscription in the offerings further to electronic services to the public.

The seminar concluded with a discussion session in which views were shared with the representatives of the companies at the economic and free zone.

It is worth noting that the capital market can meet huge financing needs for economic sectors to expand their investments through long term financing instruments through shareholding or borrowing. The total value of government and corporate bonds and Sukuk was about OMR6.024 billion at the end of 2020. The sector contributes annually to OMR2 to 3 billion financing.