Emerging from a series of structural and administrative reforms in 1999, the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) today celebrates its second year as a non-profit, private institution under administrative and financial autonomy. In accordance with Securities Law No. 23 of 1997, the Jordan Securities Commission (JSC) was entrusted with restructuring and developing Jordan's capital market.
As a result the commission established the ASE in its current form on March 11, 1999, as the sole party authorized to practise as an official market for trading securities in Jordan. In those two years, a number of administrative and procedural changes have led to computerized record keeping, remote trading, certification courses for traders and the introduction of new rules and regulations promoting transparency and business integrity in the market place.
These measures were taken to improve on a stock exchange that suffered from image problems, shaky investor confidence and low foreign investment. At the beginning of this period, the ASE's newly-appointed board of directors, headed by Abder-Rahman Toukan, undertook the task of writing the regulations that would ultimately govern the ASE.
Trading rules, internal instructions for listing and trading shares of public companies and a code of ethics were also established. Under this system, the JSC is responsible for supervising and enforcing these standards on the ASE.
“It was important to have laws compatible with international standards as a solid foundation for the new stock exchange, before any other aspect was finalised. These rules and regulations and their enforcement are bound to create an outline of what we hoped to achieve; a modern, safer, more transparent and effective stock exchange,” read a statement from Bassam Saket, chairman of the JSC.
In addition, officials have been looking in recent months to other regional and international institutions to assist in guiding and integrating the ASE into the global economy. The ASE has since joined the Union of Arab Stock Exchanges and Securities Commissions, the International Federation of Stock Exchanges, the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges as well as the NSC/UNIX forum.
Improved access to information has also been a priority, with the ASE looking to reach out to the public and improve its image through its web site, including a real-time stock ticker. Brokers are also able to receive all their information through the ASE's intranet, making paper documents virtually obsolete.
“Our goal is to achieve a marketplace environment that Jordanians are comfortable with ... we also want anyone who trades on the stock exchange to feel confident that their transaction is safe from tampering,” said Jalil Tarif, CEO of the ASE since its inception.
In the coming years, ASE officials are looking towards Internet trading, attracting greater investment, creating more depth and liquidity in the market and playing a greater role in Jordan's ongoing privatization process. Plans are also in the works to attract more IT companies by making it easier for them to trade on the stock exchange.
Currently, the ASE has 163 listed companies, a market capitalization of JD3.57 billion and an average daily trading of JD1.3 million. — ( Jordan Times )
By Owen Clegg
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)