Abu Dhabi’s new financial free zone said it had hired a veteran executive from Singapore to head its regulatory body, its second senior appointment this year and a step towards opening the zone for business as soon as next year.
Richard Teng, most recently chief regulatory officer at the Singapore Exchange, will be chief executive of the regulator at the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), overseeing the development and administration of the regulatory framework, the ADGM said in a statement on Wednesday.
In May last year, Abu Dhabi outlined plans for a full-service financial zone similar to that of neighbouring Dubai, with its own administration, court system and tax incentives to lure banks and companies from around the world.
The zone was originally due to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2013 but that has not happened. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the ADGM was now expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2015.
In August last year, Abu Dhabi appointed Ahmed Ali al Sayegh as chairman of the ADGM along with a board of directors. In February this year it hired Jan Bladen, formerly chief operating officer of the Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) regulator, as its executive adviser and programme leader.
“The senior appointments being made are some of the main pieces in the puzzle to get things moving,” the source said.
Establishing an efficient and respected regulatory environment is key to developing a financial centre, bankers say. Before working at the Singapore Exchange, Teng held posts at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, including director of its corporate finance division.
The ADGM seems likely to compete with the DIFC to some degree in many areas; it has said it will host various types of bank, foreign exchange and commodity trading firms, brokerages, pension and investment funds.
While Dubai has big advantages as an established and fast-growing centre, neighbouring Abu Dhabi may be a strong competitor in the long run because of its oil wealth; its gross domestic product is more than twice Dubai’s.