MAC Sharaf Securities announced yesterday that it now offers its clients trading access to the Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX).

Offering trading access to the DIFX is key because it enables the firm to provide its clients with a range of products previously only accessible to a small number of institutional investors. In addition to access to the DIFX, the Dubai-based group has been operating on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) since February and the Abu Dhabi Securities Market since late September. It can now offer its clients access to all three stock markets in the United Arab Emirates.

"We are excited because this is a tremendous opportunity for us to expand our market penetration û remember, very few brokerages can offer this at the moment," says Michael Fernandez, managing director of MAC Sharaf. "Our clients are excited too because they now have easy access to some very interesting opportunities on the DIFX. It is our chance to introduce Dubai to investors around the globe."

The DIFX currently lists equities, sukuks, conventional bonds and structured products and is the intended market for the forthcoming DP World IPO and listing. Indeed, it is widely believed that the recently announced listing of global marine terminal operator, DP World, on the DIFX will dramatically increase the level of interest in the exchange and, as a result, volumes on this market. DP World has announced plans to sell about 20% of its shares to raise at least $3.5 billion. Listing of the shares is expected by the end of November 2007.

Regional companies that have listed their equities on the DIFX include Al Baraka Banking Group of Bahrain, Gold Fields of South Africa and Saudi ArabiaÆs Kingdom Hotel Investments, Swiss Financial Services Company, Fortune Management and British-based Hikma Pharmaceuticals.

Listed derivative products such as the ôDIFX TraXö are also accessible on the exchange. These structured products are instruments that provide a return based on the performance of the DFM, the ADSM and other GCC stockmarkets û their performance can either track the underlying indices or provide a capital protected return. Other DIFX TraX products are based on US, European and East Asian share indices and on commodities such as oil, soy, corn, wheat, sugar and cotton.

MAC Sharaf Securities is a joint venture between the Sharaf Group, Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Ali and McMillen Advantage Capital Limited. The founder, Robert McMillen, is known in Asia for rescuing a Thai broker from near collapse three months after the start of the financial crisis in 1997.