Global exchange funds eye Saudi Arabian equities

Global exchange-traded funds are building cash piles to place in Saudi Arabian equities, so says Bloomberg. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Global exchange funds eye Saudi Arabian equities

  • It comes as the country joins the FTSE Russell emerging markets index
  • Index provider MSCI is also adding Saudi stocks to its own emerging markets index

LONDON: Global exchange-traded funds are building cash piles to place in Saudi Arabian equities, according to a ranking compiled by Bloomberg.
It comes as the country joins the FTSE Russell emerging markets index, which is expected to attract billions of dollars in foreign fund inflows.
“We believe Saudi’s inclusion in the FTSE Russell EM Index will have a significantly positive impact on stock markets, Salah Shamma, the regional head of investment at Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Equity, told Arab News.
“With an estimated $115 billion benchmarked against the FTSE Russell EM Index, the Kingdom could constitute approximately 2.5 percent of the gauge, resulting in passive fund flows of about $3 billion,” he said.
A London-based exchange- traded fund (ETF) and another fund that trades in New York have together attracted around $327 million in new money since the beginning of January, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
The net flow as a percentage of assets for Saudi Arabia funds increased by about 48 percent this year.
FTSE Russell started to include Saudi stocks this week — the first of a five-stage process that will be fully implemented by March 2020.
Index provider MSCI is also adding Saudi stocks to its own emerging markets index.
Positions on the Saudi market through funds based abroad have delivered a return of about
12 percent each since the start of the year, compared with a gain of 10 percent for the Tadawul All Share Index, according to Bloomberg data.
Franklin Templeton’s Shamma believes the inclusion of Saudi equities in the two gauges will help to bring the wider region into the mainstream of emerging market investment.
“The fundamentals of the Saudi economy are strong, and we remain encouraged by the country’s progress in reducing its reliance on hydrocarbon revenues as well as the ambitious reform agenda that is underway there,” he said.
Listed companies in the Kingdom could see holdings by foreign investors rise to 10 percent when their shares are included in index providers MSCI and FTSE’s emerging-market indices, the chief executive of Tadawul told Reuters on Monday.
Saudi Arabia this week joined the FTSE Emerging All Cap Index with a weighting of 2.9 percent.
Khalid Al-Hussan told Reuters that he expected equities on Tadawul to attract $5 billion of passive fund inflows after the FTSE Russell inclusion. Foreign investors currently hold about 5.9 percent of Saudi shares.


Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

Updated 23 April 2019
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Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

  • The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios
  • SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year

RIYADH: Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. (SRC), modelled on US mortgage finance firm Fannie Mae, aims to issue up to 4 billion riyals ($1.07 billion) of long-term sukuk this year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios from mortgage financing companies and banks to boost the Kingdom’s secondary mortgage market.

SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year, Fabrice Susini told Reuters in an interview.

“Our strategy is clearly to tap the market twice this year,” he said. “We are really looking at probably issuing something between ... 2 and 4 billion riyal that we may be issuing in two tranches.

He said SRC was looking at sukuk in the 10 to 15-year range, to help minimize refinancing risks. “Generally speaking we are trying to issue as long as possible,” Susini said.

He said the company was assessing whether it could also issue bonds in currencies other than the local riyal.

In March, SRC completed a 750 million riyal sukuk issue with multiple tenors, under a program that allows it to issue up to 11 billion riyals of local currency denominated Islamic bonds.

“The rule of the game for us is, like many projects across the Kingdom, attract liquidity from foreign investors,” Susini said.

He said SRC had spent 1.2 billion riyals from its balance sheet buying mortgages from local mortgage financing companies and provided liquidity to these firms.

It has also signed initial accords with several commercial banks to acquire housing mortgage portfolios.

Saudi Arabia’s housing ministry is targeting the mortgage market to reach a total value of 502 billion riyals by 2020 from around 300 billion riyals now.

The government wants to increase activity in the real estate market as it moves to revitalize the economy and is taking steps to reform the sector as part of its 2030 reform plan.

It has been working with developers and local banks to counter a shortage of affordable housing — one of the country’s biggest social and economic problems. Saudi Arabia wants 60 percent of its nationals to own homes by 2020, up from 47 percent in 2016.

The size of real estate financing relative to its gross domestic product is 5 percent in Saudi Arabia compared to 69 percent in the United States, 74 percent in the United Kingdom and 43 pct in Canada, the housing ministry has said.

“The goal of SRC in this market was to make sure that we will be able to refinance at least around 10 percent of the market in 2020, and 20 percent of the market by 2028,” Susini told Reuters.