Middle East society publishes IR guidelines
The Middle East Investor Relations Society (ME-IR Society) has published a new code of conduct for IROs in the UAE to provide best practice guidelines and improve the profile of the profession in the region.
The document follows closely behind the IR guidelines published by the UAE’s regulator, the Securities and Commodities Authority, which contain mandatory and optional rules and were sent to all listed companies in the region in January.
A press release from the ME-IR Society says its suggested rules are intended to provide listed and private companies with ‘best practice guidelines on how to communicate and properly disclose information to the investment community.’ Andrew Tarbuck, a member of the society’s board and a partner at Latham & Watkins, leads a regulatory committee that produced the document. He says it’s hoped the code of conduct will be a useful tool for companies across the MENA region.
‘It is part of the society’s mandate to facilitate and assist the Middle East’s IR community in implementing international best practice IR,’ Tarbuck explains. ‘We hope the code will act as an easy-to-use, informative go-to guide.’
The code provides an in-depth view of the exact role and responsibilities an IRO must take on, as well as suggesting what objectives a successful professional might have. The annual IR cycle is also broken down, giving IROs an overview of how their year might look and covering financial results, investor roadshows, media briefings, calls to the investment community and other meetings.
It also provides guidance on blackout periods, trading halts, record keeping and regulatory compliance. In addition, a section entitled ‘Dealing with information leaks, market rumors and speculation’ gives an overview of how to deal with rumormongering while following disclosure guidelines.
A longer section deals with the issue of electronic communications, taking time to outline all the necessary elements of an IR website and the need to keep it regularly updated. The code even provides a brief guide to social media, pointing out that any published information must be ‘in compliance with applicable laws, regulations and this code of conduct.’
Oliver Schutzmann, chairman of the ME-IR Society, says improving IR in the UAE is now a top priority for regulators and corporates. ‘As having an IR function is now becoming a regulatory requirement, the society aims to provide as much support and help to publicly listed companies as possible,’ he continues. ‘We firmly believe this will lead to higher transparency and disclosure standards, which will benefit the market as a whole, and are optimistic that the same regulation will be adopted in markets across the region in the near future.’