Saudi Arabia says it would be open to relaxing its rules on foreigners investing directly in its stock market to help it get included in global indices. David Pollard reports.
If you're a foreigner, you need a cool five billion dollars to invest directly in shares on the Saudi stock exchange. Not your money, of course - but funds under your management. But that - and a requirement for a five-year investment track record - could change - according to the chairman of its Capital Market Authority or CMA. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHAIRMAN OF CAPITAL MARKET AUTHORITY, MOHAMMED AL-JADAAN ,SAYING: "We are looking at ways now of who are the investors that are in the next stage going to achieve more of our objectives and if these investors going to be who have smaller asset under management size or other criteria then we will probably consider enhancing these criteria." Mohammed Al-Jadaan's interview with Reuters was the first with international media since his appointment in January. The stock exchange he oversees: at half a trillion dollars, not one of the biggest when compared to the 20 trillion dollars market cap of the US. Size and liquidity, though, are not its key objectives. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHAIRMAN OF CAPITAL MARKET AUTHORITY, MOHAMMED AL-JADAAN ,SAYING: "Saudi market is the largest in the region by far. It deserves to be in the right place within the international indices." Restrictions on market access are frowned upon by the top global index compilers like MSCI and FTSE. And whilst the Saudi exchange has only had four flotations since last November, more, it's said, are in the pipeline. Saudi SMEs and small businesses also in the frame for a boost: the CMA studying a possible second exchange specifically for them.