x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Abu Dhabi financial brokerage plans Levant expansion

Mena Corp, a financial brokerage based in Abu Dhabi, is expanding throughout the Levant amid bets that bullish demand for equities and research will return to the region.

Mena Corp, a financial brokerage based in Abu Dhabi, is expanding throughout the Levant amid bets that bullish demand for equities and research will return to the region.

"We consider the full region as one market," said the chief executive, Fathi Ben Grira. "It has been a massive project with one year in the making, but it will be fruitful once we have volumes again and it's a position we want to be in as a regional player."

The company has received approval from the Emirates market regulator, the Securities and Commodities Authority, as well as regulatory approval from local stock markets in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.

"We have clients that are from Jordan that invest in the UAE, but also want to invest in their home country," said Mr Ben Grira. "We want to be able to cater to their needs and offer them the service using one consolidated account."

Formerly known as Wafa Financial Services, Mena Corp was recently rebranded in line with the company's vision to become a regional investment bank offering services in asset management, brokerage and equity research.

Mena Corp's main shareholder is the Bin Hamoodah family that also holds interests in a number of other businesses including agency rights to Chevrolet, and the beverage franchises Oasis, Lacnor and Milko.

In the past two years, shareholders of Mena Corp have increased their investment in the brokerage amid falling stock market values and closures of securities companies in the Emirates.

The brokerage was ranked second among 49 companies trading on the Dubai Financial Market, trading Dh425 million (US$115.7m) with a 6.82 per cent market share last month. That compares with a ranking of 30th only a year ago.

The company recorded a total comprehensive loss of Dh1.38m in the second quarter of this year, compared with a Dh1.77m loss in the same period a year earlier, according to filings published on the regulator's website. Trade receivables, also known as money owed from clients, stood at Dh65.72m, slightly lower than last year's figure of Dh66.7m.

Mr Ben Grira declined to comment further on the current status of the receivables. But filings said management "has estimated the allowance for doubtful receivables on the basis of prior experience, the current economic environment and other conditions including customer credit worthiness, undertakings of specific customers and the net realisable value of customer portfolios, which the company has the ability to liquidate under current market regulations".

The shareholders "have undertaken to compensate the company for any losses that may arise on collection of trade receivables balances. Management has determined that no provisions or write-offs are required for the six month period ended 30 June 2012", the statement added.

halsayegh@thenational.ae