Franklin Templeton gets QFI status in Saudi Arabia

Around $3 billion in foreign flows has come into Saudi stocks already in 2018, taking total foreign investment in local equities to around $9 billion. (Reuters)
Updated 18 June 2018

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.


Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

Updated 09 August 2020

Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

  • Aramco see’s “partial recovery” from pandemic impact
  • Aramco president says company remains resilient

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, reported a net income of $6.57bn for the second quarter of 2020, the period which witnessed the most volatile oil market conditions for many decades.

The result, announced to the Tadawul stock exchange in Riyadh where the shares are listed, compared with income of $24.7 bn last year.

Amin Nasser, president and chief executive, said: “Despite COVID-19 bringing the world to a standstill, Aramco kept going. We have proven our financial resilience and operational reliability, setting a record in our business operations, while at the same time taking steps to ensure the health and safety of our people.”

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Aramco’s dividend - a big attraction for the investors who bought into the world’s biggest initial public offering last year - will remain as pledged, Nasser added. Cash flow in the quarter amounted to $6.106 bn.

““Strong headwinds from reduced demand and lower oil prices are reflected in our second quarter results. Yet we delivered solid earnings because of our low production costs, unique scale, agile workforce, and unrivalled financial and operational strength. This helped us deliver on our plan to maintain a second quarter dividend of $18.75 billion to be paid in the third quarter,” he said.

Aramco said the loss was “mainly reflecting the impact of lower crude oil prices and declining refining and chemicals margins, partly offset by a decrease in production royalties resulting from lower crude oil prices and a decrease in the royalty rate from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, lower income taxes and zakat as a result of lower earnings, and higher other income related to sales for gas products.”

Sales and revenue in the period - which saw oil prices collapse on “Black Monday” in April - fell 57 per cent to $32.861 bn from the comparable period last year. 

Nasser said he was cautiously optimistic that the world economy was slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic lockdowns.

“We are seeing a partial recovery in the energy market as countries around the world take steps to ease restrictions and reboot their economies. Meanwhile, we continue to place people’s safety first and have adapted to the new normal, implementing wide-ranging precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 wherever we operate.

“We are determined to emerge from the pandemic stronger and will continue making progress on our long-term strategic journey, through ongoing investments in our business – which has one of the lowest upstream carbon footprints in the world,” he added.

Aramco expects capital expenditure to be at the lower end of the $25bn to $30bn range it has already indicated for this year.