United Arab Emirates: SCA Overhauls Regulations Governing Foreign Fund Offerings

By: C. Todd Gibson, Amjad Hussain, and Zaid Abu-Shattal

The Securities and Commodities Authority (“SCA”), the federal financial regulatory agency in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) issued on 16 January 2023 a suite of new decisions and regulations, which introduced sweeping changes to the public distribution of foreign funds in the UAE.

Pursuant to SCA Chairman of the Board of Directors Decision No. 4/RM of 2023 Concerning the Procedures of Adjustment of Situation to Promote Units of Foreign Funds in the UAE (“Foreign Funds Regulations”), which came into effect on 17 January 2023, promotion of foreign funds in the UAE is now limited to private distribution to professional investors and/or market counterparties, as defined in the SCA Rulebook. As of today, the updated regulations are only available in Arabic.

Amongst other obligations set out in the Foreign Funds Regulations, promoters of foreign funds in the UAE must amend their arrangements with managers of foreign funds to comply with the provisions of the Foreign Funds Regulations.

The Foreign Funds Regulations state that promoters may continue performing their obligations pursuant to contracts that are still in force for a period not exceeding six months from 1 January 2023 or until the expiration of such contracts (whichever comes first), provided that the registration of the concerned foreign funds are renewed within the transitional period and payment of the prescribed fees are made to the SCA.

The SCA seems to want to encourage global asset managers to set up an onshore presence and establish onshore domestic public or private funds to target investors in the UAE in accordance with the new requirements and processes that were also issued on 16 January 2023 under the SCA Chairman of the Board of Directors Decision No. 1/RM of 2023 on the Regulation of Investment Funds. The SCA also issued decisions with respect to regulations governing the registration of securities for listing purposes, amending certain provisions of the SCA Rulebook, clearing activities in local commodity markets, and SCA services fees.

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