Boursa Kuwait sponsors ‘2020 MEIRA Virtual Annual Conference and Awards’

Fahad Al-Besher

KUWAIT: In line with its longstanding partnership with the Middle East Investor Relations Association (MEIRA) and its Kuwait chapter, and as part of its commitment to playing a vital role in the development of the practice of investor relations, Boursa Kuwait sponsored the ‘2020 MEIRA Virtual Annual Conference and Awards’ event, themed MEIRA 20/20 Vision: Driving Stakeholder Value.

The two-day virtual conference, which took place on 22 and 23 September 2020, is the largest IR event in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, bringing together participants from locally listed firms, international corporations, investors, research analysts and advisors, as well as representatives of the region’s regulatory bodies.

Sponsored by Boursa Kuwait, the panel session ‘Kuwait IR Challenge: Facing the Pandemic’ was addressed by Fahad Al-Besher, Director of Investor Relations at Boursa Kuwait, who shed light on the swift actions taken by the exchange in general throughout the pandemic, and by the Investor Relations department specifically, to ensure minimal ramifications on all stakeholders and their interests.

“Over the past few months, the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in many uncertainties across financial markets, creating economic anxiety and driving volatility. It is with no doubt that this external event has affected some plans during this calendar year for Boursa Kuwait and other companies, due to some of the ramifications it brought about, including the shutdown of some businesses, travel restrictions, and imposed healthy and safety measures.

Despite these challenges, Boursa Kuwait remained committed to its standard of communications and transparency with its stakeholders, utilizing its multiple platforms from the company website to its social media channels to ensure timely and clear updates. In addition, a slightly altered yet robust framework for trading operations was put in place immediately to minimize the negative impact on trading actions and results while ensuring the safety of all involved stakeholders,” Al-Besher explained to attendees.

Boursa Kuwait highlighted the operational decisions taken during the pandemic to mitigate the impact of the outbreak, such as modifying the security circuit breaker and reducing the lower limit from -10 percent to -5 percent, while maintaining the upper limit at 10 percent. Boursa Kuwait has rolled out the reduction in the security circuit breaker, in compliance with its Rulebook, which allows it to intervene in such challenging conditions and take the necessary action to ensure the protection of all dealers and minimize any negative impacts.

This was one of many precautionary measures that the bourse undertook to ensure the seamless operation of the Kuwaiti capital market, working with the Capital Markets Authority, the Kuwait Clearing Company and the Central Bank of Kuwait to ensure minimal negative impact on transactions.

“Boursa Kuwait has announced an altered framework for trading operations to minimize the negative impact on trading actions and results. The company has also taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all internal and external stakeholders, cancelling all its external meetings, holding them only in cases of extreme emergency, while internal meetings have been held using virtual audiovisual methods.

The number of employees with access to the exchange premises has been limited to those essential to in running the basic activities and necessary operations only, while a system of rotation within key departments was activated. The company also closed the doors to its premises for the safety of all market participants, prohibiting any visitors from entering the building while allowing service providers to utilize electronic communications to complete their transactions with market participants,” Al-Besher added.

One of the key highlights was the successful rollout of its first electronic Annual General Assembly, and its electronic Extraordinary General Assembly in June, in collaboration with the Kuwait Clearing Company, where the Boursa Kuwait IR department was adamant to address all investor related inquiries, in addition to the publication of the Annual Report on the company website.

Addressing the panel questions on knowing more about Boursa Kuwait’s IR function as an entity and how it aspires to lead by example, Al-Besher said: “As an organization that strives to advance a sustainable capital markets ecosystem in Kuwait, Boursa Kuwait has long recognized the importance of the investor relations function. The stock exchange has adopted best-in-class international practices to establish and maintain meaningful relationships between the various capital market participants.

A result of its extensive market development initiatives and inclusion in major global indices is a growth in Boursa Kuwait’s issuer and investor base. This has led the company to intensify its efforts in promoting investor relations practices over the last two years, which included an addition of IR related terms and procedures that all companies currently listed and wishing to list on the “Premier” Market must adhere to.”

The panel session was concluded with thoughts shared by each of the participants, on how they evaluate the concept of virtual IR, and how they foresee the future of IR post the pandemic. Al-Besher stated that in order to adapt with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Boursa Kuwait’s plans are continuously being assessed to maintain an effective and strategic communication plan, in an effort to sustain an open dialogue with the company’s investors and participants, leveraging on technology and using virtual communication options.

Commenting on the virtual conference, John Gollifer, General Manager MEIRA said: “Today, in the midst of the changes and uncertainties, one thing that remains constant and that is the importance of a solid investor relations framework, one that will function under all circumstances. This is made evident as we hold the ‘2020 MEIRA Virtual Annual Conference and Awards’, discuss experiences of leading companies across the MENA Region, how they have managed to thrive in the time of COVID-19, and recognize IR excellence.”

Gollifer added, “MEIRA remains committed to raising awareness of IR best practices, taking the function to the next level in a region where investor relations is booming, and continuously providing a credible networking platform to share latest industry trends and bring experts together.”

The MEIRA Annual Conference and Awards sponsorship is the latest event in a series sponsored by Boursa Kuwait in collaboration with MEIRA and its Kuwait Chapter, as part of the MOU signed between both entities back in 2017 to raise awareness about IR best practices and enable listed companies to benefit from effective IR processes and frameworks to drive business growth while helping advance the capital markets in Kuwait.

As a longtime partner of the Middle East Investor Relations Association and its Kuwait chapter, Boursa Kuwait’s support of this conference goes hand in hand with its corporate sustainability strategy to promote financial literacy in all aspects of the community, as well as the overall company strategy of promoting best-in-class international practices and standards with regards to the thriving field of investor relations.