Jafza issues new company regulations

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Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), a DP World Company, has issued a new set of guidelines for the Jebel Ali Free Zone companies that enable foreign companies to transfer and continue operations in the free zone without the need to open a branch or establish a new company, it has been announced in a press release.

For the first time, Jafza has brought together all the legal entities such as the free zone establishment (FZE), free zone company (FZCO) and branches under one regulation and has introduced a new legal definition such as Public Listed Companies (PLC). Companies can restructure and rearrange their operations by converting from an FZE or FZCO to a PLC and vice-versa, enabling continuity of businesses in the free zone.

Foreign companies will also be able to transfer to the free zone keeping intact all their commitments, thus attracting international businesses to Jafza.

Under another amendment, businesses can be set up with capital sufficient for the activities applied for in place of the existing regulation that mandates a minimum amount of capital. This leaves owners to decide the adequacy of their capital for their business. Meanwhile, the number of shareholders in a FZCO will now be set at a minimum of two and a maximum of 50.

The concept of different classes of shares provides flexibility to owners to offer different voting rights to shares. This could allow structures with management rights shares providing flexibility to owners for raising equity while retaining management rights over the company.

Mandatory legalities

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DP World and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said, “The new regulations streamline all the mandatory legalities related to the registration, administration, legal benefits and obligations of organisations in the free zone. These changes reflect the needs of an ever evolving market in terms of providing facilities that are prompt, secure and form the best international practice.”

Under the new regulations, the current FZE and FZCO type of entities will let customers list their company on the stock exchange by establishing a new legal definition namely the public listed company. This will allow PLCs incorporated in the free zone to access capital through capital markets. The relevant markets laws in the UAE apply to a PLC.

Jafza has evolved into a unique trade ecosystem that reduces cost, while enabling new opportunities for growth.
From its beginning in 1985, it has developed into an ever expanding business platform. It has grown from a small operation of just 19 companies into a thriving business community with over 7,000 companies that continues to expand. Its customers grew to 500 in the first decade of operation. In the past decade, Jafza has achieved fourfold growth in number of its customers.
Today, Jafza is a dynamic base for thousands of businesses, from over 100 countries, sustaining over 144,000 jobs and attracting more than 32% of the UAE’s foreign direct investment; all the while exceeding 50% of Dubai’s total exports, with a value for trade of $87.6 billion.

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