Saudi Stock Market Sees IPO Activity Returning After Virus Slump

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Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange expects share sales to pick up after coming to a halt during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are as many as 10 companies planning initial public offerings on the Tadawul, as the exchange is known, Chief Executive Officer Khalid Al Hussan said in an interview with Bloomberg. The stock exchange is planning to complete its own share sale within the next 24 months, he said.

“We have already listed five companies so far and there are at least nine to 10 companies to come,” Al Hussan said. “If all the applications get listed this year it would be one of the best IPO years.”

Saudi Arabian companies are taking the lead in new offerings on the Middle East’s biggest stock exchange at a time when IPOs across the region have been scarce.

Amlak International for Real Estate Finance Co. jumped by the maximum allowed on Monday and Tuesday following its debut, the first since a shutdown triggered by the coronavirus. Grocery chainBinDawood has received regulatory approval to proceed with a sale of 20% of its capital.

As a comparison, the last corporate IPO in neighboring United Arab Emirates happened in 2017.Saudi Aramco’s IPO last year raised nearly $30 billion, making it the biggest offering ever.

Derivatives Trading

The Saudi exchange will introduce derivatives trading next month to attract more foreign investors by providing them with products to hedge their exposure to local stocks, Al Hussan said.

The Saudi Futures 30 Index Futures Contract, which will be based on the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index, is expected to start trading Aug. 30. The exchange plans to roll out more products such as single-stock futures, single-stock options and index options at a later stage.

More than 3,000 foreign investors are registered to invest in the Saudi market, which only opened to overseas investors in 2015, Al Hussan said. As part of efforts to continue to attract international institutions, theTadawul will update its short-selling regulations to increase the use of stock borrowing in the third quarter, he said.

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