Qatar to raise foreign ownership cap to 49%

The increase from about 25% is tipped to bolster investment in the Gulf state

Qatar is set to almost double its foreign ownership limit to 49 percent in a move that could bolster investment in the Gulf state, it was reported.

In a decision approved by Cabinet this week, non-Qatari investors may have a ratio of not more than 49 percent of the capital of sharing companies listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange, up from 25 percent.

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce said this could also be further increased subject to Cabinet approval on recommendation by the Minister of Economy and Commerce, Gulf Times reported.

It said Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) citizens will be treated like Qatari nationals in owning shares of companies listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE).

Qatar was this month promoted to emerging market status by the MSCI.

Qatar's economy is likely to grow 6.3 percent this year, much faster than previously expected and well ahead of other oil exporting Gulf states, helped by robust domestic demand, a report showed on Tuesday.

Gross domestic product growth in the world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas is forecast to hit 7.8 percent in 2015, its fastest rate since 2011, said the report of the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics. It was 6.5 percent in 2013.

However, the cap on foreign ownership has stymied international investment in the country.

“The Ministry of Economy and Commerce and the Qatar Financial Markets Authority shall immediately take the necessary measures to implement these instructions,” a filing to the QSE said.

The Cabinet issued the draft law based on the recommendations of the Advisory (Shoura) Council .

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