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Tue 16 Dec 2008 04:03 PM

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Kuwait gov't could start bourse fund next week

Minister says details of multi-billion dollar bid to boost stock exchange being finalised.

A planned multi-billion dollar state fund to buy into the Kuwaiti bourse could start investing as soon as next week, the finance minister said on Tuesday.

Last month, Kuwait asked its sovereign wealth fund the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) to set up the fund after the second largest Arab bourse, shed more than 30 percent this year in the wake of the global financial crisis.

"The fund is still under preparation, and hopefully during this week we will finalise the preparation mechanism," Mustapha al-Shamali told CNBC Arabiya TV channel.

When asked if he expects the fund to be launched next week, Shamali said: "Hopefully, God willing."

The finance minister said earlier this month the KIA will begin investing at least 1.5 billion dinars ($5.47 billion) in the local bourse this month to boost confidence in the market.

Along with the KIA, other government entities, including Kuwait Petroleum Corp and the Public Institution for Social Security will also take part in setting up the fund, Shamali told the TV channel.

The KIA, which earlier this year bought into US banks Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, is a major shareholder in many Kuwaiti companies including telecom operator Mobile Telecommunications Co.

Kuwait's benchmark closed 0.74 percent down at 8,899 points on Tuesday. (Reuters)

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