The Executive Director of the Stock Exchange, Taha Ahmed Abdel Salam. “Economy News”
Economy News – Baghdad
The Executive Director of the Stock Exchange, Taha Ahmed Abdel Salam, announced that during the current year we will launch internet trading for investors and this will happen for the first time on the stock exchange, indicating that we seek to increase the number of companies listed on the stock exchange and diversify financial instruments such as government bonds, for example.
Abdel Salam said in an interview with “Al-Eqtisad News”, “The Stock Exchange is working on amending the Companies Law to guarantee the rights of small shareholders in the meeting of the public bodies of companies listed on the stock exchange.
Below is the full text of the interview conducted by “Al-Iktissad News” with the Executive Director of the Iraq Stock Exchange (Stock Exchange) Taha Ahmed Abdel-Salam:
* Has the economic crisis caused by the Corona virus affected the trading operations on the stock exchange?
There is no doubt that the year 2020 had many variables that affected economic activity and the business sector represented by joint-stock companies registered in the financial markets, including the Iraq Stock Exchange (the stock exchange). The great impact was in the period that the government called the “Cairo period,” which extended from February 5 to December 12, 2020.
Despite the crisis, some companies during the partial ban period provided disclosures for their annual data, and during the year 2020, 70 companies submitted financial statements for the year 2019.
The indicators of 2020 were less than 2019, but as a general outcome, they were positive indicators commensurate with the size of the challenges that the world has witnessed.
* What is the reason for the “isolation” of the Iraqi stock exchange from its counterparts in the Arab world?
Because the companies listed on the Iraqi Stock Exchange are local companies, and you cannot find foreign companies in some Arab stock exchanges. Nevertheless, 17% of the shares deposited in the Stock Exchange Depository Center are owned by foreign shareholders, and during 2020 their circulation amounted to 10% of the total turnover. It is a percentage from our point of view as market management is very acceptable, especially since we had a break of up to 60 sessions during the same year.
During the year 2020, many stock exchanges around the world also collapsed, but the Iraqi stock exchange was not affected because the country was going through a period of a comprehensive curfew, and the stock exchange was closed at that time.
* Has the number of foreign investors increased or decreased during the last period?
The increase in the number of foreign investors depends on the increase in listed companies as well as the innovation of new economic sectors. There is another issue, that any global economic variable forces foreign investors to turn their attention to emerging markets, but the stock exchange relies on its advanced systems to attract foreign investors.
* How many banks are listed on the stock exchange?
There are more than 50 banks listed on the stock exchange.
* What are the listing conditions imposed by the stock exchange on companies?
The listing conditions can be summarized by requiring companies to disclose their financial statements for two fiscal years. It should not have a financial deficit, and the company should not be bound by legal restrictions affecting the trading of its shares, and the number of its shareholders should not be less than 100.
* What is the reason for the domination of major investors in the decisions of listed companies?
We called more than once to amend the Companies Law to include provisions for voting in the meetings of the public bodies of companies, for the vote to be cumulative, as the latter gives the right to small shareholders to compete with major shareholders in making decisions.
* How many companies have distributed profits to shareholders?
During the past year, only 17 companies distributed profits to investors, which is a low number compared to previous years, as it ranged between 30-35 companies that distribute profits to their shareholders. The distribution of profits to shareholders contributes to attracting investors because they see this as a window of investment.
* There is a government plan to offer government bonds on the stock exchange. Is the latter ready for this procedure, especially since there was an unsuccessful experience in 2015?
The issuance and marketing is carried out by the Central Bank of Iraq, according to my information. We do not interfere with this shopping because the stock exchange has a relationship with the issue and we do not have legal authority over marketing. The process of marketing government bonds should target all segments of society. As for the 2015 exports, it was acquired by the banks because their interest rate was 8%, so it served as an investment vehicle for them.
As for the technical aspect, the Stock Exchange is fully prepared for such an offering, especially as it has an electronic system for trading and deposit.
* As a citizen, how can I invest in the stock market?
Trading in the shares of joint-stock companies begins with attending the stock exchange to view its papers, after which he can open an account in the depository center to obtain the investor’s number. From there, the one who wants to invest begins to follow up the companies’ activities and stock bulletins issued by the stock exchange, to be fully aware of the activities of the company whose shares he wishes to invest.
* Is there cooperation between you and Arab stock exchanges?
The Iraqi Stock Exchange is a member of the Federation of Arab Stock Exchanges and a member of the Federation of European Asian Stock Exchanges since 2005, and there is cooperation in terms of disseminating information and data on the official websites of these federations, and these matters would give positive indicators to Arab and foreign investors.
During the past year, we signed a cooperation agreement with the Egyptian Stock Exchange, and there are training programs in March 2021 to train our cadres electronically on applications in both markets.
* Has the effect of changing the exchange rate on market transactions?
There is no doubt that any economically affected variable affects all aspects of the economy and its institutions, especially those that deal with investments. Dealing within the market is done in Iraqi dinars on the shares of joint-stock companies. Any economic change must be reflected on the market in terms of sales and trading volume.
* Holding the “evening sessions” just an idea or will it be implemented?
At the present time we are in the process of studying the subject technically because it has to do with changing some of the regulations of some brokers as well as changing the financial and equity settlements of some companies in order to make sure of the safety of the operations carried out by investors and shareholders.
* What is the market plan for the next 5 years?
During this year, we will launch online trading for investors, and this will happen for the first time on the stock exchange. The biggest challenge during 2021 is to increase the number of companies listed on the stock exchange and diversify financial instruments, such as government bonds, for example. We also hope that joint stock companies will issue their own bonds.
And that the comparison of the Iraqi stock exchange with the Arab stock exchanges should not be done at the market level only. On the technological level, the stock exchange ranks first in the Arab world. As for the reason why Arab stock exchanges outperform the Iraqi stock market in terms of volume and value of transactions, it is due to the fact that Arab stock exchanges contain bonds, sukuk, and Islamic financial instruments.