Business Setup in ADGM – Abu Dhabi Global Market

What is Abu Dhabi Global Market – ADGM?

ADGM is the new Financial Center established in Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhbai, UAE.  It encompasses an area of 1.14 sq. km. ADGM was established in pursuant to Abu Dhabi Law No. 4 of 2013 as a financial free zone with its own civil and commercial laws. ADGM’s ambition is to be one of the leading international financial centers in the world.

ADGM’s strategy and regulations are developed in consultation with the leading financial institutions regulators and IFCs.

ADGM regime provides a very efficient and robust business environment for the firms operating in Financial Service Industry.  The following three independent authorities provide a holistic environment allowing companies operate from the Centre.

Registration Authority

RA is the first point of contact for all establishments interested in setting up business in ADGM. Regulatory Authority support and guide organisations through the whole process of Company formation in ADGM, Registration and issuance of commercial licenses, visas and other services.

Financial Service Regulatory Authority (FSRA)

FSRA’s objective is to establish a robust and well-regulated financial market with high level of regulatory transparency and engagement,  To achieve its objectives FSRA has put in place

  • Internationally recognized Regulatory Framework
  • Dynamic and market aware Regulations
  • Risk-focussed and proportionate approach
  • Co-operation and shared responsibility
  • High standards of quality and service

ADGM Courts

ADGM Courts support ADGM with a fully independent, common law framework to adjudicate civil and commercial disputes. ADGM Court’s judges are drawn from the most senior levels of judiciary of world’s leading common law Jurisdictions. They have long-standing, strong traditions of judicial independence.

Why Set up Your Business in ADGM?

Some of the largest Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) are from Abu Dhabi

ADGM located in Abu Dhabi,  the capital city of UAE, which offers a stable political environment, and enjoys one of the world’s highest GDP per capita.  The following are some of the reasons why you may consider setting up your business from ADGM

Legal And Regulatory

  • An independent jurisdiction with its own civil and commercial laws
  • Common law directly applicable providing high level of legal certainty
  • Independent ADGM Courts
  • 100% Foreign ownerhsip

Tax Environment

  • 0% tax
  • No withholding of taxes
  • No restrictions on repatriations of profits
  • Growing number of Double tax Treaties (69 in place, 27 in progress)

Efficient Process and Procedures

  • Fully digital application
  • Support with Visas and government services
  • Modern infrastructure, global connectivity

What Business Activities You can carry out from ADGM?

Regulatory Activities

Deposit taking Institutions
Lending Institutions, Private Equity Firms, Venture Capital Firms
Investment Banking,
Market Intermediaries: Brokerage firms, Advisory firms,
Portfolio Managers, Asset managers
Insurance Companies
Insurance Intermediaries
Fund Managers
Fund Administrators
Trust Service Providers
Custodian Service providers
Shari’a compliant regulatory activities

Non regulated Activities

Professional & Business services
Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs)
Family offices
Management office


How to Set up Regulatory Business in ADGM?

Any firm establishing in the ADGM can have 100% foreign ownership and is subject to a civil, commercial and regulatory environment aligned with entities established in the United Kingdom.

Any firm providing a financial service from a permanent place of business in the ADGM must be regulated by the FSRA (referred as regulated entities). This includes, but is not limited to, Banks, Brokers and Dealers, Asset Managers, Corporate Financiers, Wealth Managers, Insurers and Insurance Intermediaries, etc.

The type of business you wish to undertake will determine the category of Licence you will require. This licensing is classified based on type of business and risk associated, activities undertaken & capital requirement. The capital requirement for a firm range from US $10,000 to USD 10 million. Capital waivers may be available to the ADGM branch of a regulated financial institution having its head office in a recognized regulatory jurisdiction.

Firms wishing to undertake only marketing and referral activities without providing any other financial services may establish a Representative Office. Such firms will not have clients in the regulatory sense and will therefore benefit from a ‘light touch’ regulatory approach commensurate with this more limited scope of business.

Almost all regulated authorized firms are required to appoint:

(a) Senior Executive Officer,
(b)  Compliance Officer,
(c)  Money Laundering Reporting Officer,
(d)  Finance Officer, and
(e)  For entity established in the ADGM as a company (as opposed to a branch), at least one Director.

Fees associated with such an application

Regulated entity application and annual fees range from US $5,000 to US $160,000, depending on the permission, the number of permissions and any endorsements being applied for.

The ADGM incorporation fee including the commercial Licence issuance starts from US $1600 (for Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) & with renewal fees of US $1,200.

How KPI can help in setting up your business in ADGM

KPI will be pleased to help you in your  business setup in  ADGM. From assessing your requirements  right up to getting your business started we will be there for you, we will be there with you during the entire process. That means, we do all that takes to start your dream venture.

  • Which business activities you intend to carry out?
  • How it can be mapped to the appropriate category of Authorised Firm of the FSRA, ADGM
  • Assistance in completion of all  application forms
  • Assistance in Completion of  entire documentation
  • Assistance in preparing Regulatory business plan
  • Assistance in preparation of  the financial projections
  • Assistance in preparing Prudential Return forms
  • Help demonstrate your fitness and probity test to obtain the license
  • Handholding for the entire process till you get your license

Why KPI as your trusted advisor?

  • Personalised service – We treat each application as our own
  • the experience – having helped establish above 25 Authorised firms in DIFC and ADGM
  • We have been at the ADGM since inception – the 1st entity to register at the centre
  • We helped authorise the first foreign fund manager & the first Category 2 entity at the ADGM
  • Backed by well qualified, experienced professionals – CFA Charter holders, experienced risk and compliance, and banking professionals
  • All round experience on all ADGM / DIFC matters; having undertaken various roles for different categories of Authorised firms, including,
    • As outsourced CFO  – licensed function
    • As outsourced Compliance & MLRO – licensed function
    • As consultants for entire Authorisation process
    • As external Auditors
    • As internal Auditors
    • As Insolvency practitioners
    • As risk officers