MANAMA: Bahrain's Mumtalakat Holding Company was voted the most transparent sovereign wealth fund (SWF) in the Gulf. In a research undertaken by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, Mumtalakat was found to have the joint highest transparency 'score1' of the nine Gulf investment companies surveyed.
"The independent ranking of Mumtalakat, the investment company for Bahrain, as the most transparent SWF in the Gulf is further proof of the kingdom's commitment to the highest standards of accountability and robust regulation that has created a stable business environment," said Economic Development Board (EDB) chief operating officer Kamal Ahmed.
Of the 45 companies worldwide included in the study, Mumtalakat is one of only 15 that achieved a score of seven or more out of a possible 10.
The Linaburg-Maduell Transparency Index is based on 10 essential principles that demonstrate SWF transparency to investors including the provision of percentage ownership of company holdings, financial returns and geographic locations of holdings, and clear strategies and objectives for the future.
"Mumtalakat's position as one of the leading investment companies in the Gulf for transparency embodies Bahrain's core culture of transparency and freedom," Mr Ahmed said.
"The Kingdom provides the most attractive and liberal business environment for international companies looking to access the markets of the Gulf. We are committed to the highest standards of international corporate governance.
"And we have a tried and tested legal and regulatory environment in which investors can trust to fairly protect their interests," he said.
Bahrain is the most established financial centre in the Gulf and has a track record and reputation for effective regulation at international standards.
The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) is widely acknowledged and respected as the best and most comprehensive regulator in the region.
The kingdom is also home to leading regulatory bodies for Islamic finance including the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions, the Liquidity Management Centre and the International Islamic Financial Market.
Bahrain is ranked the freest economy in the Middle East by the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal's 2009 Index of Economic Freedom and 16th in the world - the only country in the Mena region to feature in the world's top 20.