Cost of setting up a holding company in the DIFC:
Consolidation and management of assets is one of the key points of concern for investors worldwide, and even more so in the GCC. A growing investor ecosystem, coupled with the high density of family wealth in the region, call for robust structures that can help high net worth individuals manage their investments. One such structure is a DIFC holding company.
What is a holding company?
Wikipedia defines a holding company as “a company that owns other companies' outstanding stock.”
In short, a holding company consolidates investments, be it shares in other companies or property, under a common umbrella, for ease of management and reporting. Such companies do not usually carry out a trade or service – they merely manage existing investments. The management team of the holding company also seeks to make new investments, based on certain pre-determined criteria, to expand their existing portfolios.
The Dubai International Financial Centre, or DIFC, provides an excellent corporate structure to facilitate such activities - a DIFC holding company.
Why setup a holding company in the DIFC?
The DIFC is a leading financial hub in the region for business, fintech, and lifestyle. DIFC holding companies can be used to hold assets within the UAE, the GCC, or anywhere else in the world. These include real property and shares in other companies in the UAE and worldwide. Here are some reasons why setting up a holding company in the DIFC makes sense.
The maximum number of visas you can apply for will depend on both the type of business you plan on setting up as well as the size of the premises you lease in the DIFC.
Here are some specific advantages of establishing in the Dubai International Financial Centre:
- The legal framework supports cross-border activities
- 100% foreign ownership permitted, no restrictions on capital repatriation
- No restriction on foreign employees
- Zero tax for 50 years on profits, capital or assets
- Zero tax on personal income
- Highly regarded, independent regulator
- Independent, English-speaking, common law judicial system
- Distinct from the UAE civil courts
- Risk-based regulatory approach
- High prominence in deal making in the region
- Concentration of international financial institutions
- World-class regional and international professional services
- The leading fund domicile in the region
- GCC Management offices, holding companies and family offices are located closer to the assets they own or manage
- The UAE plays a central role in growing global trade, between Asia and Africa on one side and the West on the other
- Well-positioned to harness the potential of emerging markets.
Setting up a DIFC Holding Company involves the following interactions:
Registrar of Companies (DIFC ROC)
The ROC helps to set up the legal structure of the DIFC Holding Company. In most cases, this would be a Private Company Limited by Shares. Shareholders can be individual, or corporate. The costs for setting up such a company are:
Application for reserving a name (2 working days): US$ 800
Application for Incorporation of a Private Company Limited by Shares (5 working days): US$ 8,000
Commercial License on Incorporation (5 working days): US$ 12,000 (annual fee)
The data protection notification is part of the process of registering a new entity in the DIFC. The costs involved are as follows:
Registration - US$ 500
Annual renewal – US$ 250
Every entity registered in the DIFC is required to lease a physical office. You can choose from the Gate and surrounding buildings, or other buildings within the DIFC, such as Emirates Financial Towers, Central Park, Park Avenue, Burj Daman and Currency House.
Prices vary, depending on the space availed and the building. Here is an indication of the prevailing rates:
DIFC Business Centre – from a one-desk office at US$ 27,000.
DIFC Fitted Offices – from US$ 55 per square foot.
Other buildings – from US$ 32,000 per annum
Establishment Card Application – US$ 630
PSA Deposit – US$ 682
Visas (per visa) – from US$ 1,500
PSA Deposit (per visa) – US$ 682
Application for reserving a name
Application for Incorporation
Data Protection Registration
Office spaces (business center), from
Fitted Offices, from
Establishment Card application
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