x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Abu Dhabi exchange in landmark pay move

In a landmark move towards greater transparency in business, 25 companies listed on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange have for the first time released details of executive pay.

Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al Ain Ahlia Insurance, and National Marine Dredgingare among firms disclosing the remuneration of their top executives on the website of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. Christopher Pike / The National
Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al Ain Ahlia Insurance, and National Marine Dredgingare among firms disclosing the remuneration of their top executives on the website of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. Christopher Pike / The National

In a landmark move towards greater transparency in business, 25 companies listed on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange have for the first time released details of executive pay.

Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al Ain Ahlia Insurance, and National Marine Dredging are among firms disclosing the remuneration of their top executives on the website of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX).

The move follows a request by the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) for companies to be more transparent about salaries.

The authority is also keen to ensure levels of pay are more closely linked to a company's performance.

"Any move towards greater transparency is encouraging," said Mohammed Ali Yasin, a board member and chief investment officer of CAPM Investment. "Publishing this information is highly desirable from an investor perspective."

Under corporate governance rules outlined in a ministerial resolution of 2009, firms are required to report the means of remuneration of directors only to the SCA and shareholders.

Firms on exchanges in other countries are commonly required to disclose details of compensation given to senior executives to help inform investors.

Now UAE firms are being encouraged to do the same.

"It is the first time firms have been asked by SCA for this information," said a source familiar with the matter. "Firms have been asked for the remuneration for first and second levels of management as part of a move towards best practice. The SCA wants to ensure there is a better relation between pay and the performance of a company."

A total of 25 ADX-listed firms disclosed the pay of senior management and executives last year in corporate governance reports they produce annually.

The data offers an insight into the earnings of some of the capital's top executives.

The chief executive of Aldar, received Dh2.49 million (US$677,883) in salary and benefits during the year, the firm disclosed. His deputy, received Dh2.3m.

Fellow property developer Sorouh Real Estate paid its managing director Dh4.6m last year, as The National reported last week.

The director general of Abu Dhabi Aviation, a commercial helicopter operator, received Dh1.61m, according to the data. Pay of Dh1.24m was awarded to the firm's commercial business development consultant.

Other firms detailed non-financial benefits awarded to senior staff. The chief executive of Fujairah Building Industries, received a car, along with Dh540,000 in annual salary and Dh130,000 in "other" benefits.

Lawyers say the SCA's ruling may be in anticipation of the new draft federal companies law, which, once approved, may set out requirements about executive pay.

Under the current companies law, firms are restricted from paying any more than 10 per cent of a company's annual profit to board members. Senior management are often members of boards or committees linked to boards.

tarnold@thenational.ae

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