Kuwait Sovereign Fund To Resume Selling Stakes In Local Firms

The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) is planning to offer its stake in Kuwait Investment Co in the first half of 2015.

The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) has decided to resume selling stakes in major local companies to the public, planning to offer its stake in Kuwait Investment Co in the first half of 2015, state news agency KUNA reported.

The decision was made by KIA’s board of directors late on Wednesday, KUNA quoted the sovereign wealth fund as saying.

The KIA, one of the world’s largest sovereign funds with assets estimated at over $400 billion, began offering stakes in listed Kuwaiti firms to the public in the 1990s as part of efforts to transfer more of the country’s corporate wealth into private hands.

But the programme has been interrupted by bouts of stock market weakness, including a 2009-2012 slump in the wake of the global financial crisis. The market has regained some strength in the last 18 months.

KIA owns 76.2 per cent of Kuwait Investment Co, a financial investment firm with a market capitalisation of $252 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.

It also owns 24.1 per cent of Kuwait Finance House, which has a capitalisation of $11.7 billion, and 24.6 per cent of telecommunications operator Zain with a capitalisation of $9.6 billion. Those stakes will be offered to the public at a later time, KUNA quoted the KIA as saying.

The KIA also pledged to continue supporting the local stock market by reinvesting money that it raises from the share sales in investment products and funds, KUNA reported.