x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Clean sweep for UAE at the IR 'Oscars'

The UAE sweeps the board at the financial services equivalent of Hollywood's Oscars ceremony, the Middle East Investor Relations Society annual conference and awards in Beirut.

BEIRUT // And the winner is - investor relations in the UAE.

The country yesterday swept the board at the financial services equivalent of Hollywood's Oscars ceremony, the Middle East Investor Relations Society (ME-IR Society) annual conference and awards, held in Lebanon.

UAE companies won all five of the "grand prix" awards for the best investor relations (IR) practices in the region, with the country's biggest bank Emirates NBD clinching the top honour for the "best IR in the Middle East", as well as two other awards.

DP World, the ports and logistics company owned by Dubai World, also picked up the prize for "best IR team for market responsiveness".

The mobile phone company du, which is quoted on the Dubai Financial Market, completed the UAE's clean sweep by having the "best IR by a chief financial officer in the Middle East" - Mark Shuttleworth.

Fiona Piper, the in-house investment relations director at DP World, was named "best company representative for IR" and her company the "best IR company in the UAE".

At a glittering ceremony at Le Bristol hotel in Beirut - dimmed only by the occasional power failure - the cream of the Middle East's IR stars gathered in anticipation of the second ME-IR Society awards, organised by the financial information specialist Thomson Reuters Extel.

The organisers also handed out prizes to seven other Middle East countries for their IR expertise.

Investor relations is a branch of the financial services profession that facilitates communication between companies and their investors.

It is a growing sector in the region as more companies obtain listings on stock markets.

The rankings are determined after polling by Extel of 200 financial professionals around the world, with the overall results audited by the accounting firm Deloitte. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt drew the biggest responses.

In true Hollywood fashion, the winners' modesty was immediately on show as they paid fulsome tribute to others.

"The [ME-IR Society] has done an excellent job over the past two years and has been hugely influential in helping raise the profile of IR in the region," Ms Piper said.

"It's great for DP World to be recognised like this. IR is playing a big role in helping Dubai attract international investment back into the region."

Ben Franz-Marwick, Emirates NBD's head of investor relations, expressed his delight. "We are all very pleased, especially with the top Middle East award. IR is increasingly relevant for Dubai. The global financial crisis has made transparency and disclosure more important."

Mr Shuttleworth was also fulsome in his praise. "The whole team was brilliant. All I did was give it a little direction."