Business and economics symposium highlights merits and drawbacks of IPOs in Palestine

Finance students, professors, and experts discussed the realities and challenges of initial public offerings (IPOs) by companies in Palestine in a symposium organized by the Department of Finance and Banking at Birzeit University on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. 

Featuring representatives of public and private companies, investment firms and governmental agencies, the symposium focused on the benefits and drawbacks of stock market launches in Palestine as the country is engaging in a globalized economy. 

In his opening remarks, Ziad Zaghrout, chair of the Department of Finance and Banking, emphasized the importance of IPOs in injecting funds into and moving assets in a developing economy, citing their proliferation as the hallmark of a healthy investment ecosystem. 

Samia Al-Botmeh, dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics, said that knowledge about finances and investment should be available to everyone, not only financial experts and analysts, as many Palestinians are establishing small businesses and investing in startups as retirement plans. 

Highlighting the international nature of markets and investment, Al-Botmeh noted that more and more Palestinians are investing in businesses abroad, which requires knowledge of the laws, regulations, and market conditions of other countries. She added that this seminar and others planned by the faculty in cooperation with financial and banking agencies in Palestine will tackle this issue. 

The symposium’s first session focused on the legal and financial requirements of IPOs, featuring Murad Jadba, the director general of securities at the Palestine Capital Market Authority who discussed the agency’s role in regulating stock market launches. Mohammad Abu Baker, chief of finances and administration at the Palestine Exchange, outlined the stock exchange’s efforts in raising awareness on the financial regulations regarding IPOs. And Mohammed Alqaisi, the director of the Master’s Program in Law at Birzeit University, reviewed the legal procedures a company must undertake when it goes public.

In the second session, representatives of Al Arabi Investment Group Co. and Sahem Trading & Investments Co. discussed the role of banks and investment firms in funding and supporting IPOs. 

The third session featured representatives of public and private Palestinian corporations who detailed their experiences with the stock market launch process. Private-business representatives voiced their concerns on the high tax rate imposed on public corporations, citing the rate as one of the reasons their companies had not held an IPO. The participants reviewed alternatives for companies that wish to raise capital, such as equity crowdfunding, which gives everyday people - not only wealthy investors or venture capital firms - the chance to own part (or equity share) of a business