Goldman was top broker in Saudi market in May as foreign interest surged

The headquarters of Goldman Sachs is pictured on April 17, 2019 in New York City. (AFP)
Updated 11 June 2019
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Goldman was top broker in Saudi market in May as foreign interest surged

  • Foreign interest in investing in Saudi Arabia has picked up
  • Goldman Sachs handled 18.6% of trades by value and 12.3% by volume in May

DUBAI: Goldman Sachs was the top broker in the Saudi market in May, both in terms of value and volume of trades, stock exchange data showed, as foreign banks benefitted from a surge of international money into the Kingdom.
Foreign interest in investing in Saudi Arabia picked up ahead of the inclusion of the country’s stock market in global index provider MSCI’s emerging market indexes last month.
Goldman, which was not even among the top ten brokers in Saudi Arabia in April, handled 18.6% of trades by value and 12.3% by volume in May, according to data from Tadawul, the Saudi bourse.
It was followed by HSBC Saudi Arabia, which handled 9.4% of trades by value last month.
In 2017, Goldman received approval to trade equities in Saudi Arabia, joining the growing band of western investment banks and fund managers expanding in the Kingdom.
“They managed to make inroads to both local and foreign businesses,” said a financial industry executive.
Of the 10 top brokers in May, five were foreign, the data showed.
Goldman was the lead manager for the initial public offering (IPO) of Arabian Centers, which listed last month. It was the first IPO in the Kingdom under Rule 144a, which allows the sale of securities primarily to qualified institutional buyers in the United States.
Saudi securities firms such as NCB Capital and Al Rajhi Capital have traditionally been top brokers in the domestic market. The Saudi market opened to foreigners in 2015.
Late last month, the Saudi equity market joined the first phase of passive fund inclusion in the MSCI Emerging Market Index, which is expected to trigger billions of dollars of foreign fund inflows.
In May, foreigners bought a record 17.62 billion riyals ($4.70 billion) of Saudi stocks, according to Saudi stock exchange data.
Foreign ownership of Saudi stocks stood at 6.64% as of May 30, the bourse data showed.
The Saudi index has gained over 12% so far this year, making it among the best performers in the Gulf region this year.


Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

Updated 20 September 2019

Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

  • Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows

SINGAPORE: Sales of Singapore apartments worth at least S$10 million ($7.3 million) have hit an 11-year high, fueled by increased demand from Chinese millionaires seeking safe-haven assets, say property consultants OrangeTee & Tie.

Investors have long viewed Singapore as an island of stability that attracts the super-rich from its less developed Southeast Asian neighbors, as well as multimillionaires from mainland China.

In the first eight months of 2019, 68 condominium units in the wealthy Asian city-state were sold for S$10 million and more, the highest tally since the corresponding period of 2008.

Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows.

Some buyers may have sought an alternative to rival financial hub Hong Kong, hit by protests, while others may have shifted funds from China after its yuan currency was devalued in a trade war with the US, an OrangeTee expert said.

“This may explain why we have observed more foreign buyers, especially mainland Chinese, coming into Singapore lately,” said Christine Sun, its head of research and consultancy.

Mainland Chinese are the biggest group of foreign buyers of Singapore luxury homes.

In Singapore’s prime districts, Chinese citizens bought 76 apartments worth more than S$5 million from January to August, versus 75 purchases by Singaporeans, data until Sept. 19 show.

Expensive apartments in premium neighborhoods are mainly bought by foreigners, because at such high prices Singaporeans have the option to buy landed property, such as bungalows and mansions.

Singapore does not allow foreigners to buy landed homes, except for those on the resort island of Sentosa.

“We do see that even though the stamp duties have increased .... we are still seeing people putting big money on these apartments, predominantly it is more for stability than anything else,” said Boon Hoe Leong, chief operating officer of high-end realtor List Sotheby’s International Realty.

He was referring to measures Singapore adopted last year to cool its real estate market, such as hiking additional stamp duties for foreign buyers to 20 percent from 15 percent.

“They are parking their money here — they know that the Sing dollar won’t depreciate overnight,” he added.