x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Du tops list for transparency among Middle East companies

Du, the telecommunications firm, has topped a list of companies that boast the most robust and transparent corporate governance policies in the Middle East.

Du has topped a list of companies in the Middle East that boast the most robust and transparent corporate governance. Charles Crowell for The National
Du has topped a list of companies in the Middle East that boast the most robust and transparent corporate governance. Charles Crowell for The National
The telecommunications company du has topped a list of companies in the Middle East that boast the most robust and transparent corporate governance.
The ports operator DP World and National Bank of Abu Dhabi also made the top 10 of the S&P-Hawkamah Pan Arab ESG Index, which selects the Middle East's top 50 companies on the basis of environmental, social and corporate governance standards.
The ranking is a joint venture between Standard & Poor's, the ratings agency, and Hawkamah, an institute for enhancing corporate governance in the region.
"Recent political developments have heightened the focus on governance, accountability, transparency and disclosure," said Nasser Saidi, the executive director of Hawkamah.
The index, which is in its second year, showed overall improvements in the corporate governance scores of regional companies because of increasing scrutiny by regulators, he said.
The wider Middle East and North Africa region has historically ranked poorly on transparency and disclosure, often deterring long-term investors.
"The recent issuances of corporate governance codes in the UAE and Qatar have had a positive effect on the rankings of their companies," Mr Saidi said.
"But companies themselves have started to see the value of better disclosure, and many have gone beyond the minimum requirements."
The index conducted its first assessment in February last year, and companies were re-evaluated last month. The top 10 stocks in the index are now du, DP World, Savola Group, Arab Bank, MobiNil, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Orascom Construction Industries, Qatar Telecom, Maroc Telecom and Al Khaliji Commercial Bank.
"Following the rebalance, the index, which is unique in being weighted by environment, social and governance scores, is dominated by financial stocks, with this sector comprising 45 per cent of the index," said Kirsty Knight, the director of index operations at S&P Indices. "However, this is indicative of the region's equity market, as financials, likewise, represent nearly half of the benchmark S&P Pan Arab Composite."
Companies from Saudi Arabia were the biggest component of the index, making up 28 per cent, with Qatar and the UAE jointly second with 22 per cent.
The index includes the 50 companies based on their performance across nearly 200 ESG statistics.
Companies are drawn from the 150 largest and most liquid entities listed on the national stock exchanges of 11 markets.
rjones@thenational.ae
twitter: Follow our breaking business news and retweet to your followers. Follow us