Saudi to ease requirements for foreign investors in bourse

At the end of 2017, 118 foreign institutions had registered to invest

Saudi Arabia will ease requirements for foreign institutional investors in its stock market from January 23, the securities regulator said on Tuesday, as the kingdom seeks more foreign capital to help diversify the economy beyond oil exports.

Among the reforms, the minimum value of assets under management needed for an institution to qualify as an investor will fall to $500m from $1bn.

The qualification process will be simplified and institutions will be able to qualify affiliates and their managed funds without submitting a separate application for each of them.

The measures were originally revealed in November. Tuesday’s announcement by the Capital Market Authority finalised and set a date for them.

Saudi Arabia opened its market to direct investment by foreign institutional investors in mid-2015 and has periodically eased the requirements for investors since then. At the end of 2017, 118 foreign institutions had registered to invest.

All types of foreign investor, including those owning stocks indirectly through swaps, hold about 4.2 per cent of the Saudi stock market, which has a capitalisation of over $450bn.