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Saudi to open stock markets to foreign investors in 2015

Staff writer |
Saudi Arabia plans to open its stock market to direct investment by foreign financial institutions in the first half of 2015, Saudi Gazette reports.

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The opening of the Saudi market, capitalized about 530 billion U.S. dollars, is one of the most keenly awaited economic reforms in the world's biggest oil exporter.

"The market will be open to eligible foreign financial institutions to invest in listed shares during the first half of 2015," the Capital Market Authority (CMA) said on the newspaper.

The CMA in August will publish rules for participation by qualified foreign financial institutions in the market, the regulator said in the statement on its website.

Currently, foreigners are limited to buy Saudi stocks via swaps involving international banks and through a small number of exchange-traded funds, which are relatively expensive and inconvenient options. Foreigners are at present believed to own less than five percent of the Saudi market, and account for a smaller fraction of stock trading turnover.

Potential foreign interest in Saudi stocks is huge, because of the country's strong economy and the presence of some of the region's top blue-chip firms. The International Monetary Fund on Monday raised its forecast for Saudi growth this year to 4.6 percent.

Foreign investors are estimated to own about 15 percent of other much smaller stock markets in the Gulf such as Dubai, the report said, adding if foreigners raise their ownership of Saudi Arabia to that level, it could mean an inflow of some 50 billion dollars into the country.


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