Saudi to green light some foreign ownership of stocks

Gulf state to limit ownership to investors with at least $5b, invoke 5 percent cap on stock
Saudi to green light some foreign ownership of stocks
Foreigners have limited opportunities to invest in Saudis stock market
By Reuters
Sun 11 Dec 2011 08:50 AM

Saudi Arabia's plans to open up its stock market will limit
direct foreign ownership to investors with at least $5bn under management and
allow each to hold a maximum 5 percent of a stock's issued share capital, two
industry sources said.

Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority (CMA) and Tadawul,
the largest Arab bourse, have indicated to market participants the details of
the proposed framework of foreign ownership.

Total direct ownership of each stock would not be allowed to
exceed 20 percent of the issued share capital, a source familiar with the
matter said.

Currently, foreigners have only very limited opportunities
to invest through indirect ownership and exchange traded funds that track
indexes.

Under the new framework, total foreign investment in a
listed firm, including swap notes, non-Gulf Arab foreigners and expatriates in
Saudi Arabia, will not be allowed to exceed 49 percent, the source added.

"The market operator has highlighted some issues for
foreign investor trading," the source said.

"The main problem is how the custody landscape will
look like. Tadawul is proposing three custody models to facilitate it." The
types of models are currently confidential.

The source also said that there is still no indication of
how much the fees or commissions for trading would be.

Saudi Arabia has been considering a wider opening of its
market for several years.

The chief executive of the kingdom's exchange, Abdullah al
Suweilmy, told reporters earlier this week that it has yet to finalise a
timeframe for when it would open up its market, but industry sources say it
could happen as early as mid to late first quarter of 2012.

CMA was not immediately available to comment when contacted
by Reuters.

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