Saudi Arabia Said to Plan Bourse Opening to Foreigners in April

Saudi Arabia (SABIC) is seeking to open its $509 billion stock exchange to foreign investors in April, according to three people briefed on the country’s plans.

The Capital Market Authority informed brokers and fund managers of the timeline in London last month, two of the people said, asking not to be identified as the meeting was private. Saudi Arabia isn’t planning significant changes to draft rules published in August, the people said. The country announced in July that it would open the market in the first half of 2015.

The world’s biggest oil exporter is removing barriers to one of the world’s most-restricted major stock exchanges as it pursues a $130 billion spending plan to boost non-energy industries. Opening the market may prompt MSCI Inc. to include the bourse in its emerging market gauge by 2017, luring as much as $40 billion of foreign cash, Schroders Plc. said in July.

The Riyadh-based regulator may cap foreign ownership of a single stock at 49 percent, according to the August draft rules. It may also set a 5 percent limit for qualified foreign investors, or QFIs, in a single stock, and a 20 percent ceiling for QFIs and approved QFI clients combined, it said. The QFIs’ holdings may not exceed 10 percent of the market’s value, including interests under swaps, according to the draft rules.

A spokesman for the CMA said today the regulator continues to expect the market to open to foreign investors in the first half of next year, though no specific date has been set.

Source: Bloomberg