Non-Saudi Gulf companies get ready to joint list on Tadawul

Khalid Al-Hussan, the Tadawul exchange’s chief executive, spoke to Arab News on the sidelines of the Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 25 April 2019
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Non-Saudi Gulf companies get ready to joint list on Tadawul

  • Two companies, from UAE and Bahrain, about to submit documentation, bourse CEO tells Arab News
  • Joint listings for other Gulf stocks would be an important step in Tadawul’s ambition to be the dominant stock market in the region

RIYADH: Tadawul, the Saudi Arabian stock exchange, is on the verge of announcing the first ever joint-listings of companies from other Gulf countries in a move that further illustrates the growing regional power of the market.

Khalid Al-Hussan, the exchange’s chief executive, told Arab News on the sidelines of the Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh that two companies — one from the UAE and one from Bahrain — are about to submit the necessary documentation to enable their listing in Riyadh. He declined to identify them.

“Two companies are in advanced discussions and are about to submit their files,” he said. The final decision on their listing rests with the regulator Capital Markets Authority, but Al-Hussan has made no secret of his desire to get non-Saudi companies from the Gulf Cooperation Council listed on the Riyadh market.

“We are an important regional platform and we can complement secure access to capital and the liquidity they lack in their home markets,” Al-Hussan said, adding that Tadawul was speaking to several other corporates in the region to gauge their interest.

Joint listings for other Gulf stocks would be an important step in Tadawul’s ambition to be the dominant stock market in the region. Al-Hussan is also planning Gulf-wide initiatives in other areas of securities trading, like settlement and clearing.

“Tadawul can play an important role in post-trade business, because of its size and liquidity. Running a clearing house is very expensive,” he said. Tadawul is already in talks with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and Bahrain Bourse about the possibility of them using Tadawul for clearance and settlement activities.

“They are assessing whether Saudi infrastructure is right for them,” Al-Hussan said. There have been no talks yet with Dubai.

We are an important regional platform and we can complement secure access to capital and the liquidity they lack in their home markets.

Khalid Al-Hussan

News of Tadawul’s growing regional ambitions comes as the Riyadh market continues to reap benefit from the ongoing upgrades to emerging markets status and inclusion in the main indices.

The next tranche of Saudi stocks get included in the FTSE-Russell index next week, while the first tranche under the MSCI upgrade takes place at the end of next month.

“We’re up 18 percent since the beginning of the year, and I don’t think you’ll find many emerging markets performing better than that,” Al-Hussan said of the Tadawul index’s performance.

He said that an influx of foreign investors was a very important reason for the strength of Saudi markets. “It is not just my feeling, it is the facts. Foreign investment is positive every day. Cash inflows are positive and increasing each week,” Al-Hussan said.

The market is also finessing preparations for the introduction of derivatives trading, which is likely to happen in the second half of the year. Al-Hussan said that all the necessary regulations were in place to allow trading in derivatives — securities based on future values of stocks — and that it was awaiting final regulatory approval.

 

 “We are still waiting on the readiness of market traders to actually trade derivatives, and on the readiness of local investors for them. They have to be well informed,” he said.

The Nasdaq Dubai exchange in the UAE already has a platform for derivatives trading in Saudi equities, but Al-Hussan said: “It is very hard for a regional exchange to compete with the domestic one, especially if it does not have much liquidity.”

In the course of the Financial Sector Conference, tech firm Al Moammar Information Systems Company began trading on Tadawul, and marketing is well underway for the forthcoming initial public offering of Arabian Centers by the Fawaz Alhokair Group.

Tadawul also announced a number of “enhancements” to the fee structure of the bond markets, including reducing commissions and waving others, to enhance the competitiveness of debt instruments on the exchange.

FASTFACTS

18.5%

Rise in the Tadawul All Share Index so far this year


No need for more talks over draft budget: Lebanon finance minister

Updated 7 min 48 sec ago
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No need for more talks over draft budget: Lebanon finance minister

  • Lebanon’s proposed austerity budget may please international lenders but it could enrage sectors of society
  • Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens at 150 percent of GDP

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s finance minister said on Tuesday there was no need for more talks over the 2019 draft budget, seen as a vital test of the government’s will to reform, although the foreign minister signalled the debate may go on.
The cabinet says the budget will reduce the deficit to 7.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) from last year’s 11.2%. Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens at 150% of GDP.
“There is no longer need for too much talking or anything that calls for delay. I have presented all the numbers in their final form,” Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said.
But Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil suggested the debate may go on, telling reporters: “The budget is done when it’s done.”
While Lebanon has dragged its feet on reforms for years, its sectarian leaders appear more serious this time, warning of a catastrophe if there is no serious action. Their plans have triggered protests and strikes by state workers and army retirees worried about their pensions.
President Michel Aoun on Tuesday repeated his call for Lebanese to sacrifice “a little“: “(If) we want to hold onto all privileges without sacrifice, we will lose them all.”
“We import from abroad, we don’t produce anything ... So what we did was necessary and the citizens won’t realize its importance until after they feel its positive results soon,” Aoun said, noting Lebanon’s $80 billion debt mountain.
A draft of the budget seen by Reuters included a three-year freeze on all forms of hiring and a cap on bonus and overtime benefits.
It also includes a 2% levy on imports including refined oil products and excluding medicine and primary inputs for agriculture and industry, said Youssef Finianos, minister of public works and transport.
“DEVIL IN THE DETAIL“
Marwan Mikhael, head of research at Blominvest Bank, said investors would welcome the additional efforts in the latest draft to cut the deficit.
“There will be some who claim it is not good because they were hit by the decline in spending or increased taxes, but it should be well viewed by the international community,” he said.
Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said: “The numbers will be of some comfort to investors, but the devil will be in the detail.”
“Even if the authorities do manage to rein in the deficit, it probably won’t be enough to stabilize the debt ratio and some form of restructuring looks increasingly likely over the next couple of years,” Tuvey said.
The government said in January it was committed to paying all maturing debt and interest payments on the predetermined dates.
Lebanon’s main expenses are a bloated public sector, interest payments on public debt and transfers to the loss-making power generator, for which a reform plan was approved in April. The state is riddled with corruption and waste.
Serious reforms should help Lebanon tap into some $11 billion of project financing pledged at a Paris donors’ conference last year.
Once approved by cabinet, the draft budget must be debated and passed by parliament. While no specific timetable is in place for those steps, Aoun has previously said he wants the budget approved by parliament by the end of May.
On Monday, veterans fearing cuts to their pensions and benefits burned tires outside the parliament building where the cabinet met. Police used water cannon to drive them back.