February 22, 2012


Palestine Securities Exchange a Bright Spot in Equities (SARA HAMDAN, 2/22/12, NY Times)

Analysts say investor interest in public Palestinian companies has grown over the past two years, with many new listings on the exchange at a time when initial public offerings have remained at a standstill elsewhere in the Middle East. New venture capital funds are investing in companies in Palestinian territories that have turned profits despite the challenges of their operating environment.

"Strong stock market performance proves that these Palestinian companies are well managed, resilient and adaptive," Fayez Husseini, manager of Abraaj Capital's $50 million Palestine Growth Capital Fund, said by telephone. "Markets have been turbulent in other parts of the Mideast recently -- Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain -- so in terms of regional investment these days, the Palestine stock exchange is a top pick among fund managers."

Amid the political and economic instability that swept the Middle East and North Africa last year, the Palestinian market ranked second, behind Qatar, as the best performing regional exchange, falling only 2.58 percent over the course of the year. That compared with 2011 losses of 11.7 and 20 percent for the markets in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain -- two oil-rich Gulf neighbors.

"The 'Arab Spring' type risks already existed in Palestinian territories, it's already priced in and there's nothing new for investors to take into account," said Eric Swats, head of asset management at Rasmala Investments in Dubai. "When you look at big companies there, you see that they are not just doing well in business, but growing."

Posted by at February 22, 2012 5:35 PM

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