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London investors turn attention to Palestine


London-UK, Leaders of Palestine’s capital market, investment & export community concluded the Palestine Capital Markets Day in strength, highlighting Palestine as ‘the investment opportunity for 2014’. Led by national export body, Palestine Trade Centre (PalTrade) and the Palestine Exchange (PEX), the delegation told influential institutional investors and senior analysts in London that 2014 could be a ‘threshold year’ for Palestine’s growing economy and a robust capital market. Palestine has been one of the fastest growing economies in the MENA region over the past five years, achieving GDP growth averaging 8.4 per cent. Mr. Ahmad Aweidah, CEO, the Palestine Exchange described 2014 as a ‘threshold year’ for Palestine’s economy. Speaking at the press conference at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on 17 January, he described a series of critical factors that could significantly boost Palestine’s economy. “We are now achieving a series of important economic breakthroughs that could see our growth accelerate even more strongly. “Last week our delegation held over 30 meetings with London-based international investment funds and many influential analysts. There is a clear recognition that Palestine is on the threshold of strong growth. This is the third London Road show that we have held. Each time we meet London Institutional investors and analysts there is a greater understanding of the opportunities presented by Palestine. There is increasing appreciation of the potential presented by our financial services and banking sectors, ICT, infrastructure and high value agricultural sectors. Tourism is also beginning to make strong progress with attractions including Bethlehem, the Dead Sea and Jericho. “The announcement by S&P Dow Jones in December 2013 that it has added coverage of Palestine to its suite of frontier market indices is a critical step forward,” Mr. Aweidah said. The Palestine Index is currently a standalone country Index, but it will remain on the S&P Dow Jones Indices watch-list for potential future inclusion in the S&P Frontier BMI and Dow Jones Total Stock Market. MSCI also announced in June 2013 that it created a Stand Alone Country Index for Palestine for potential inclusion in its MSCI Frontier Index. Mr. Aweidah reported that: “The FTSE Indices have also informed the PEX that in 2014, the FTSE will be reviewing the eligibility of including Palestine as a Frontier market within the FTSE Country Classification Scheme.”  Mr. Aweidah added: “It is anticipated that the Palestine Capital Market Authority (PCMA) will be given a full membership of IOSCO in February 2014, reinforcing confidence in the efficiency and safety of transactions in Palestine. “The robustness and transparency of regulation has been a defining characteristic for the PEX over the past 17 years. IOSCO recognition of the PCMA will further strengthen thrust, which is so important to the continuing growth of our Exchange.” The high powered delegation also included CEOs and senior managers of leading Palestinian financial institutions and listed companies, including the Palestine Capital Market Authority (PCMA), the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), PALTEL Group, Bank of Palestine, PADICO Holding, Sahem Trading and Investment and Lotus for Financial Investment.  The Road-show speaker line-up included Mr. Ammar Aker, CEO, of integrated telecom group, PALTEL Group. He outlined how his company has a market capitalization of $1US billion and revenue in 2012 of $US 516.01m.  Mr. Aker reported how his company’s dividend yield (8.7 per cent in 2012) is the highest achieved by an ICT company in the Middle East.  “I believe there are many excellent entrepreneurs in Palestine, leading highly professional businesses that have been growing steadily for many years. I am sure that they will continue to achieve strong, reliable growth and that if there can be a political settlement, there will be an economic boom in Palestine.”  John Davies, Vice President, Global Exchange Traded Products at S&P Dow Jones Indices said: “The fact that we have built the Palestine Index is an important statement. We don’t build indices simply because we feel they are needed. We build them because our clients are asking for them. The establishment of the new Index is evidence that there is significant demand for investment in Palestine.”  Mr. Davies stated that the stand alone BMI index achieved a 41 percent cumulative returns since inception a year ago which compares favorably with the Pan-Arab composition Index at about 24.5 percent and the S&P500 Composition Index at about 30.2 percent.



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