GCC organic farming market to reach $1.5bn

Updated 22 April 2015

GCC organic farming market to reach $1.5bn

The gradual shift of the consumer’s preference for organic food and products in the Middle East and the current position of UAE as the second largest market for organic food has made this sector integral to the country, said a top official.
“It is our goal to promote and become one of the major pillars for the organic food sector in the coming years,” said Saud Salim Al-Mazrouei, director of Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA) and Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF Zone).
The director led a delegation to London to participate in the Natural & Organic Products Europe exhibition that concluded in London recently.
“HFZA’s participation in this year’s Natural & Organic Products is a start for us to understand the sector further and interact with potential investors,” he said.
Quoting a report by Frost and Sullivan, Al-Mazrouei said that organic farming in the GCC is set to reach $1.5 billion by 2018, driven by evolving consumer tastes and change in health habits.
In the UAE, the number of organic farms rose to 39 at the end of 2013, covering a total of 3,920 hectares, compared with just 218 hectares in 2007, he said.
In general, the demand for organic food in the Middle East and North Africa is increasing.
“HFZA is facilitating the set-up of more food industries in the zone to increase their growth in the MENA region, because of the strategic position and advantages it has to offer, in addition to which it is noteworthy that UAE is emerging as a major food re-exporting hub in the World, making HFZA all the more attractive as a destination for investors to expand there business and tap in to new business opportunities through the region.”
The Natural & Organic Products Europe exhibition that took place at ExCeL London, featured an unprecedented 600 exhibitors showcasing thousands of natural and organic brands — including supplements, botanicals, superfoods, homeopathic remedies, personal care and beauty, eco-household, and food and drink.
More than 10,000 people visited the event this year, renowned for attracting key buyers and decision makers from the food, beauty, health and eco-label categories.
“The event provided a good window for HFZA to introduce its capabilities and facilities to potential investors and exhibitors from other countries like the US, Poland, France, Italy, Sicily and many others,” said Ali Al-Jarwan, deputy commercial director of HFZA.


UBS fined $51 million by Hong Kong regulator for overcharging clients

Updated 11 November 2019

UBS fined $51 million by Hong Kong regulator for overcharging clients

  • Hong Kong regulator’s investigation exposed ‘serious systemic internal control failures’ at the bank
  • In March, the Securities and Futures Commission banned UBS from leading initial public offerings in Hong Kong for a year

HONG KONG: Swiss bank UBS was fined HK$400 million ($51.09 million) by Hong Kong’s securities regulator for overcharging up to 5,000 clients for nearly a decade, the watchdog said on Monday.
The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said in a statement that an investigation found UBS had overcharged clients on ‘post-trade spread increases’ and charges in excess of standard disclosures and rates between 2008 and 2017.
THE SFC said the investigation exposed ‘serious systemic internal control failures’ at the bank. UBS had failed to disclose conflicts of interests and had overcharged some clients in ‘opaque’ trades, it said.
The overcharging affected 5000 Hong Kong managed client accounts in about 28,700 transactions, it said.
UBS has also agreed to repay the clients HK$200 million, the SFC said.
The regulator said the over-charging occurred in the bank’s wealth management division on bond and structured notes transactions.
UBS was found to have increased the spread charged after the execution of a trade without the clients’ knowledge, it said.
In the statement, the SFC said UBS was also found to have falsified some account statements which were issued to financial intermediaries who were authorized to trade for the clients to “conceal the overcharges.”
UBS said the issues were ‘self-reported’ to the SFC and the results found were against the bank’s standard practice.
“The relevant conduct predominantly relates to limit orders of certain debt securities and structured note transactions, which account for a very small percentage of the bank’s order processing system,” the bank said in a statement.
SFC chief executive Ashley Alder said while each “overcharge represented a fraction of each trade” the bank’s “misconduct involved decisions and a pervasive abuse of trust resulting in significant additional revenue for UBS to which it was not entitled.”
In March, the SFC banned UBS from leading initial public offerings in Hong Kong for a year after it found the bank, and some of its rivals, had failed to carry out sufficient due diligence on a number of deals.
UBS was fined HK$375 million while Morgan Stanley was fined HK$224 million, Merrill Lynch HK$128 million and Standard Chartered (StanChart) HK$59.7 million, all for failures when sponsoring, or leading, public market floats.