Saudi fund plans cinema venture with AMC

Saudi Arabia expects cinemas to commence operation by March. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2017
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Saudi fund plans cinema venture with AMC

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund said it planned to enter the cinema business with major US-based movie exhibition company AMC Entertainment Holdings, as the Kingdom lifts a 35-year-old ban on cinemas.
“In line with the fund’s mandate to help unlock promising new sectors within the Kingdom, PIF and AMC Entertainment will explore theatrical exhibition and related investment and partnership opportunities in Saudi Arabia,” the Public Investment Fund said.
Neither of the partners gave details of the business ventures which might arise from their non-binding memorandum of understanding.
The Saudi government announced on Monday that the first theaters could start showing films as early as March, part of a liberalizing reform drive that has opened the door to concerts, comedy shows and women drivers in the past year.
AMC, which owns the Odeon brand, is one of the largest movie exhibition companies in the world with about 1,000 theaters and 11,000 screens across the globe.
Other cinema chains are also eyeing the Saudi market. Dubai-based mall operator Majid Al Futtaim, which owns VOX Cinemas, said it wanted to open the first movie theater there. The government said it expected to open over 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens by 2030.
With assets of over $220 billion, PIF is being used by the government to spearhead its drive to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil. The fund is getting into a wide range of industries from real estate development to technology investment, tourism and waste recycling.
— REUTERS


Franklin Templeton gets QFI status in Saudi Arabia

Updated 3 min 37 sec ago
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Franklin Templeton gets QFI status in Saudi Arabia

  • Fund manager attracted by fiscal and social reforms
  • KSA market attracts $3 billion in foreign flows this year

LONDON: US fund manager Franklin Templeton is to allow foreign investors to invest directly in Saudi Arabian stocks for the first time, after announcing that its funds have been granted Qualified Foreign Investor status by market regulators.

The firm’s increased commitment to Saudi Arabian stocks follows the steady easing of restrictions on foreign investors by regulators in the Kingdom, as part of capital markets and economic reforms within the country.

The Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced measures to ease restrictions on foreign investment in the local stock market from this January and allowed eligible foreign enterprises to acquire a larger stake of up to 10 percent of any issuer’s shares, up from 5 percent.

“Bold fiscal reforms, including steps to reduce its reliance on oil, will put the Kingdom’s economy on more sustainable footing over the long-term,” said Bassel Khatoun, managing director, frontier and MENA, Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Equity.

“At the same time, impressive capital-market reform is culminating in classification upgrades by key index providers. Finally, social reform continues unabated, leading to new investment opportunities across the economy. As a firm, we are excited to be part of these positive developments.”

Saud stocks are expected to be upgraded to emerging market status by index provider MSCI on Wednesday, following a similar upgrade by fellow index provider FTSE Russell at the end of March.

Around $3 billion in foreign flows has come into the market already in 2018, taking total foreign investment in local equities to around $9 billion.

Franklin Templeton forecasts such upgrades will attract additional foreign investment flows of around $35 billion. The upcoming IPO of Saudi Aramco, expected in the next year or so, will bring in $50 billion in foreign investment depending on valuation, the firm predicted.