London marine insurers widen Middle East threat zone after ship attacks

London’s marine insurance market has extended the list of waters deemed high risk to include Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf after ship attacks off Fujairah. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 May 2019
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London marine insurers widen Middle East threat zone after ship attacks

  • The London insurance market’s Joint War Committee said in a statement that the additions cover areas of perceived enhanced risk for marine insurers and reflected enhanced regional risk
  • The Joint War Committee also added adjacent waters around the Gulf of Oman to its high risk list

LONDON: London’s marine insurance market has extended the list of waters deemed high risk to include Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf after ship attacks off Fujairah, officials said on Friday, in a move that could push up premiums.
The London insurance market’s Joint War Committee said in a statement that the additions cover areas of perceived enhanced risk for marine insurers and reflected enhanced regional risk.
“The situation will be kept under close review,” said the Joint War Committee, whose guidance influences decisions by underwriters on insurance premiums.
Four tankers, comprising Saudi Arabian, UAE and Norwegian-flagged ships, were attacked on Sunday off Fujairah. No one has claimed responsibility for the incident.
The attacks took place against a backdrop of US-Iranian tension following Washington’s decision this month to try to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero and beef up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it called Iranian threats.
Iran accuses Washington of stoking tensions and had denied it had any role in the attacks.
The Joint War Committee, made up of syndicate members from the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) and representatives from the London insurance company market, normally meets every quarter to review areas it considers high risk for merchant vessels and prone to war, terrorism, piracy and related perils.
The Joint War Committee, which met on Thursday after developments in the Middle East ahead of Friday’s decision, also added adjacent waters around the Gulf of Oman to its high risk list. The last update to the list was in June 2018.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway have launched an investigation and have described the attacks as deliberate. They have not blamed anyone.
“Very little information is to hand about the explosions at Fujairah anchorage on May 12 and the circumstances and methods employed remain unclear,” the Joint War Committee said in further comments.
“There is no doubt that considerable damage was done and there will be significant claims,” it added.
The London marine insurance market plays an influential role in the global marine insurance industry.
A confidential Norwegian insurers’ report seen by Reuters concluded that Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were “highly likely” to have facilitated the attacks on the tankers.
Iran has said the attacks on the tankers were a cause for concern and has called for an investigation.
Iran said on Friday it could “easily” hit US warships in the Gulf, the latest verbal broadside in the spat between Washington and Tehran.


Saudi Arabia relaxes ownership limits for foreign investors

Updated 4 min 9 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia relaxes ownership limits for foreign investors

  • Capital Market Authority chairman, Mohammed El Kuwaiz said, ownership in the Saudi capital market by financial investors had increased threefold this year
  • The move aims to help enhance the market’s efficiency and attractiveness and to expand the institutional investments base

RIYADH,: Saudi Arabia has relaxed a 49% limit for foreign strategic investors in shares of listed companies, aiming to attract billions of dollars of foreign funds as the Kingdom opens up the region’s largest bourse to a more diverse investor base.
The country has introduced a raft of reforms in recent years to make its stock market, the region’s biggest, attractive to foreign investors and issuers.
The move aims to help enhance the market’s efficiency and attractiveness and to expand the institutional investments base, the regulator, the Capital Market Authority (CMA), said in a statement on its website.
The Saudi stock market, which opened to foreign investors in 2015, has seen an upsurge in foreign fund flows since the start of the year due to its inclusion in the emerging markets indexes.
“In the beginning of this year, we had only one percent ownership in the Saudi capital market by financial investors, today it is over three percent, that’s more than a threefold increase,” CMA chairman, Mohammed El-Kuwaiz told Reuters in an interview.
“Our hope is that we can see a similar increase in terms of pace and magnitude as we start to create more avenues for foreign investors to come in to the market,” he added.
There will be no minimum or maximum ownership limit, although the owners must hold the shares for two years before they can sell.
Kuwaiz said huge demand from non-financial foreign investors pushed the CMA to grant approval on an exceptional basis to a number of strategic foreign investors to increase their holdings in Saudi listed companies. These included transactions at an insurance firm and a local bank.
Foreign investors have been net buyers of Saudi equities over the past few months, with purchases worth 51.2 billion riyals ($13.6 billion) until May 30. They currently own 6.6% of Saudi equities, of which 3.15% is owned by strategic foreign investors.
Local shares were incorporated into the FTSE emerging-market index in March and the MSCI emerging market benchmark in May this year. The country’s Tadawul All-Share Index is up 11 percent year-to-date.
Strategic foreign investors can take stakes in listed companies by buying shares directly on the market, or through private transactions and via initial public offerings.
Asked how this move would reflect on the Aramco IPO, planned for 2021, Kuwaiz said it would assure that the market has the physical regulatory and investor infrastructure to accommodate a company as large and as extensive as Saudi Aramco.