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Saudi Stock Exchange to organise foreign roadshows in Q4

The market would open to direct foreign investment on June 15.

RIYADH, April 21 (Reuters) – The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) will organise roadshows for foreign investors in the fourth quarter of this year as it opens to direct foreign investment in listed shares, exchange officials said on Tuesday.

Khalid al-Rabiah, chairman of Tadawul, told a news briefing that the roadshows would focus on North America and Europe. Khaled al-Hosan, head of Tadawul’s markets department, said they would include investment firms and listed firms.

The Capital Market Authority announced last week that the market, which now has a capitalisation of $554 billion, would open to direct foreign investment on June 15. Final rules covering the opening will be published on May 4.

Tadawul chief executive Adel al-Ghamdi said in May last year that the exchange would apply “extremely soon” to go public.

However, Rabiah said on Tuesday that the government’s Public Investment Fund, which owns all of Tadawul, would have the first and final say on any initial public offer of shares, and that an IPO process had not begun.

“Once Tadawul has a robust cash flow that guarantees sustainability, the owners will look into it,” he said.

Hosan said Tadawul had held meetings over the last two years with more than 250 companies interested in listing on the exchange. About 170 companies are listed at present.

Saudi companies will take time to decide on new listings and make preparations, but awareness is increasing among them of the importance of listing or at least separating management from ownership, Hosan added.

Tadawul has said it will replace its existing NASDAQ OMX trading platform with NASDAQ’s X-Stream INET system.

The new system is expected to be introduced to the market by the third quarter of this year, Hosan said. (Reporting by Marwa Rashad, Writing by Andrew Torchia)