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DIFC, UAE telcos in talks on lower tariffs

Reduction expected to attract global lenders to financial centre

A drop in tariffs would be a draw for global lenders such as Deutsche Bank.
A drop in tariffs would be a draw for global lenders such as Deutsche Bank.

Senior officials at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) are in talks with Etisalat and du in a bid to offer lower tariffs to companies operating from the tax-free business park.

It was reported on Tuesday that DIFC's new CEO Jeffrey Singer has started discussions with the UAE telcos to entice more financial services companies to move to Dubai.

Bloomberg said a number of companies have called for a drop of 20-30% in tariffs, quoting Singer in an interview.

He said lenders including Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest bank, have indicated they would relocate some trading operations if rates were lower.

Higher costs for data and phone lines erode a company's savings from paying lower salaries to traders than in Europe, Singer said in comments quoted by Bloomberg.

Telecom rates in Dubai were more than Singapore and London on an adjusted basis.

DIFC has become an important element of the UAE economy contributing in 2011 around $1.3bn, equivalent to 1.4% of the nation's non-hydrocarbon GDP as estimated by International Monetary Fund.

Earlier this month, it was reported that occupancy levels in offices owned by DIFC topped 98 % in the first half of 2012 as the number of commercial licences issued during the period surged year-on-year by 41%.

According to figures from the DIFC Authority, the free zone's operating body, occupancy of DIFC-owned commercial offices in the Gate District increased to 98% between January and June 2012, up from 95% in the same period in 2011.

Occupancy levels in commercial offices owned by third-party developer were slightly lower at 86%, during the first half.