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Top public companies in the UAE

Top public companies in the UAE

Welcome back to our weekly tour of MENA’s stock markets where we highlight top public companies in the region. Today, get ready for a hot stock exchange, almost hotter than the Middle Eastern summer sun, we’d say!

Today, we’ll explore the UAE stock markets – yes, that’s markets with an “s” because the country has two financial securities exchanges operating under the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA): Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and Dubai Financial Market (DFM). Both of them so far this year have been on fire with new IPOs and bond listings, making them almost as hot of a duo as Brad Pit and Angelina Jolie in Mr and Mrs Smith.

Yalla, let’s deep dive into some of the blinging sectors that these bourses’ biggest publicly-listed companies operate in — entertainment, banking, and sports.

Entertainment Companies in the UAE 

Who doesn’t like a bit of retail therapy? Shopping is a serious activity in the UAE, and we’re not joking about that — many of the local malls have dedicated valet parking, concierge, whatever you need to feel more at ease when spending some of your disposable income on bling and things. Some real estate property development companies like Dubai-based Emaar Properties (EMAA) have subsidiaries dedicated entirely to mall management, like Emaar Malls.

The same applies to Abu Dhabi, where developer Aldar Investment (ALDAR) announced its Yas Mall makeover earlier this year. This project is gonna have all the works — 100 new stores, redesigned main areas, and an improved overall customer experience. We’re talking about a $136m investment in this upgrade and, while it’s still about 18 months away from the works being completed, we can’t wait already!

But, if the rush of swiping your credit card is not your idea of entertainment, the country is also well-known for offering plenty of cultural entertainment venues, especially with Expo 2020 just around the corner. Take the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), the largest exhibition venue in the Middle East where there’s always something going on – whether it’d be a conference, exhibition, or other events. Last month, the company announced it would merge with another big company, Abu Dhabi National Hotels Company (ADNH), giving metaphorical birth to one of the largest hospitality/events/catering powerhouses in the region (with an overall valuation of about $5.5b!). They’re definitely getting ready to ride the post-pandemic and Expo 2020 entertainment craze.


Banking Companies in the UAE 

With all this fun taking place in the country (and lots of money cycling through), luckily, the UAE has a solid financial industry.

At the top of its heavy-hitting list of banks is First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), which also happens to be the country’s largest bank, born from the ashes of the merger between First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi. The bank now has a rough market value of $42b and drum roll, a female CEO – Hana Al Rostamani. This “fab”ulous boss lady was the top-ranked woman on Forbes Middle East’s list of the Top CEOs In The Middle East 2021.

Meanwhile, Dubai’s biggest bank (thanks to its multi-billion sea of assets) is Emirates NBD (ENBD), which employs more than 25,000 people. That’s practically a whole town! Emirates NBD is also positioned as the largest financial services bond issuer on Nasdaq Dubai as it already executed six listings — the latest of which (earlier this year) was a five-year conventional bond worth $750m, the first from UAE in 2021.

As all good things come in threes, let’s also give a shout-out to Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), the third-biggest bank in the country with more than a million customers and assets worth $110b. Looks like all its efforts these days are going into digitization as over 95% of its retail transactions are now digital. The company is a master in diversifying its business as well, like that time in March when it acquired a portfolio of 1,000 mortgages to expand in the home finance sector.

Sports Companies in the UAE 

Sports is truly a big thing in the UAE. In addition to spectating global sporting events from a distance (Italy, we saw that Euro 2020 win last week). Due to its global reputation as a host of major sporting events, Dubai has a well-developed sponsorship market. In fact, according to a Deloitte report, every year the city of Dubai spends over $1.7b on sport-related investments. Big public companies like DP World (DPW), Dubai Duty Free (DDF), and Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) are all big sponsors of major international sports events held in the country – like tennis championships, golf tournaments, and horse racing.

Last year, one of the country’s most relevant companies in the sports industry listed its shares on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) under the trading symbol PALMS. Yep, you guessed it, we’re talking about Palms Sports (PALM), one of the largest training academies in the world, with a particular focus on martial arts. The company is a subsidiary of the public company International Holding Company (IHC). While its shares have been quite volatile recently, Palms Sports just signed a $1.9b deal with the government to cover a full lifecycle of Jiu-Jitsu training and sports program management for the government’s combat sports members.

why it matters
The UAE is in a cultural and touristic ferment phase with big international events coming up and several industries moving on from Covid-19. While the Abu Dhabi and Dubai governments are pushing their larger goals of becoming a global destination both for tourism and business, significant capital injections are being made in key sectors such as entertainment, banking, and sports.