RIYADH,(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia does not currently plan to fully open up its stock market — the Arab world’s biggest — to outside investors, the head of the kingdom’s regulator said on Wednesday, according to CNBC Arabiya.
His comments came after Reuters reported Monday that Saudi bourse officials had asked representatives from regional banks and brokerages last month to check capabilities for handling foreign accounts.
Abdulrahman al-Tuwaijri, head of the capital markets authority (CMA) said there would be no debate about opening up the bourse in the foreseeable future, and it would not happen for at least one or two years, according his comment posted on CNBC Arabiya’s website.
With the top OPEC producer rolling out a $400 billion infrastructure program — the world’s biggest stimulus relative to GDP — foreign banks are keen on the Saudi stock market and biggest Arab economy.
But foreigners still make up only a fraction of trading. Big investors such as pension funds want the right to buy shares directly and not go through Saudi intermediaries who technically own the stock under current rules.
Global banks and fund managers have set up shop in the kingdom to tap the massive infrastructure spend, but Saudi Arabia, the largest market in the region, does not allow direct foreign ownership.