Saudi Arabia relaxes ownership limits for foreign investors

Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, Chairman of the Capital Market Authority (Reuters/File photo)
Updated 28 June 2019
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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 percent 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 percent of Saudi equities, of which 3.15 percent 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.


New designer’s ranges help lift sales at Burberry

A window of a Burberry store in central London, UK. The brand said new products accounted for about half the wares in its shops by the end of June. (Reuters)
Updated 23 min 14 sec ago
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New designer’s ranges help lift sales at Burberry

  • Fashion label more than a year into an overhaul to take it more upmarket

LONDON: British luxury brand Burberry reported a pick-up in first quarter sales after it began shifting more new designs by creative chief Riccardo Tisci into its stores as part of a turnaround plan.

The fashion label is more than a year into a high stakes overhaul by CEO Marco Gobbetti aimed at taking Burberry more upmarket  and reviving its image, including with edgier takes by Tisci on some of its classic products such as the trench coat.
The brand said new products had accounted for around half the wares on offer in its shops by the end of June, more than some analysts had expected.
This helped to lift same store sales by 4 percent — following lacklustre growth of 1 percent in the previous three months and topping market expectations of around 2 percent — and its gamble on a new designer appeared to be paying off for now.
“The consumer response was very promising, delivering strong growth in our new collections,” Gobbetti said in a statement.
Burberry has in recent quarters lagged the performance of luxury industry leaders like LVMH’s Louis Vuitton or Kering’s Gucci, which benefited from thriving demand in China in spite of US trade tensions.

FASTFACT

Thomas Burberry was just 21 years old when he established the company of the same name in 1856.

Those firms are due to post sales for the April to June quarter next week.
The pace of Burberry’s revenue growth within China and more broadly across Asia also improved slightly, despite slowing Chinese economic growth.
Its revamp has included rolling out a new logo-style print, or monogram, it hopes will catch on as it works on extending its reach in high-margin handbags; and it is redesigning stores as well as making a big marketing push with social media campaigns.
The company maintained its forecast for broadly stable revenue and operating margin at constant exchange rates for the 2020 financial year. Revenue and operating profit are not expected to pick up in a more meaningful way until 2021.