Owners of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and Dubai Financial Market may “hopefully” decide by the end of this year on whether to consolidate their operations, said Abdullah Al Turaifi, CEO of the Securities & Commodities Authority. “The two financial markets have to agree before they do anything,” Al Turaifi said in Abu Dhabi today. “Hopefully by the end of the year, they will have agreed on what to do. As a regulator we welcome a merger or separate entities.” The UAE, the second-biggest Arab economy, has three bourses - Nasdaq Dubai, Dubai Financial Market and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. The owners of the Dubai Financial Market, the only listed Arab bourse, and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange announced two years ago that they were in high level talks on a merger. The process has been stalled on valuations, sources have said. \"It is still being discussed. A committee has been created to discuss ... they will report back to ESCA and then we will evaluate,\" said Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri, who is also chairman of the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA). \"I do hope by the end of the year we will have some kind of indication, it has to be done in a very systemic way. It serves the interests of both markets.\" The minister also said he expected to see more mergers take place among UAE firms in the wake of a proposed tie-up between Abu Dhabi\'s two largest listed real estate firms, Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate. \"We are looking at the financial sector,\" he told reporters on the sidelines of a business conference, adding the industrial, transportation and logistics sector were also candidates. \"Any sector that\'s facing challenges, one way out of the challenge is to create a merger.