ME-IR society forum to showcase local start-ups

Group to present new companies to prospective Middle Eastern investors

The Middle East Investor Relations Society (ME-IR Society) will host a series of forums designed to encourage start-ups in the region to consider listing their enterprises on stock exchanges, it was announced this week.

The first of the seminars, held in partnership with Silicon Oasis Ventures and the Middle East and North Africa Private Equity Association (MENA PEA), will take place in Dubai on November 14, 2014. The forum will aim to bring together some of the promising start-ups from the MENA region to showcase their ideas for investors in the form of short, three-minute presentations.

‘The society acknowledges that the field of IR goes far beyond the interaction of listed companies with their institutional or retail investors,’ says Michael Chojnacki, co-founder of the ME-IR Society. ‘This latest initiative is aimed at raising awareness of IR best practice among high-quality start-ups.’

There are currently more than1,400 companies listed across Middle Eastern exchanges, while a number of entities based in the Gulf – including SABIC, Al Rajhi Bank and Qatar National Bank – currently feature in the FT’s Global 500 list and are among the world’s largest companies. An increasing regulatory presence in the region is also promoting a deal of growth, seen with the introduction of new corporate and securities laws in Kuwait and the tightening of insider trading laws in Lebanon, for example.

The stream of IPOs in the MENA region, however, has been identified as an area that needs stimulation, with many countries considering the possibility of allowing structural changes including privatization, demutualization or a restructuring of regulatory responsibilities between exchanges and local regulators.

‘In its efforts to stimulate a knowledge-based economy in the MENA region and boost the venture capital ecosystem around the region, the MENA PEA has teamed up with the ME-IR Society to provide the opportunity for entrepreneurs to share their stories,’ says Lina El-Zein, MENA PEA’s director. ‘We would like to encourage entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and serve as a beacon to aspiring entrepreneurs in the region.’

The event will be supported by Silicon Oasis Ventures, a large Dubai-based investment group that prioritizes high-growth ventures. Dr Philip Boigner, a partner at the firm, hopes the first forum will ‘become a cornerstone of the entrepreneurship ecosystem of the region.’

Applications are open for interested start-up businesses for a pitch at the forum, which will be held as part of the ME-IR Society’s annual conference next year.

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