Saudi Stock Exchange has a healthy IPO pipeline, says chief

On Tuesday, the TASI index closed at 7,924 points. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 September 2019

Saudi Stock Exchange has a healthy IPO pipeline, says chief

  • Khalid Al-Hussan says it is ready to launch Aramco whenever government gives go-ahead

DUBAI: The CEO of the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) said it has “a good pipeline” of initial public offerings (IPOs) in the coming months, and is ready to stage the biggest of them all, that of Saudi Aramco, whenever the government decides to launch it.

Speaking exclusively to Arab News as Tadawul marked its full inclusion in the MSCI index of emerging market (EM) bourses, Khalid Al-Hussan said: “Taking into account all the pressures that EM markets around the world are facing, we feel we’re in good shape, and we see a good pipeline of IPOs coming through.”

On the Aramco IPO, preparations for which have accelerated in recent weeks, he said: “We confirm our readiness for Aramco, but we’re still waiting for the final decision by the issuer. They’ll share with us the plan, but we’re still waiting for more clarity.”

Saudi Arabia's transport minister, Nabeel Al-Amudi, was appointed to the Aramco board, Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday. It followed the appointment of Yasir Al-Rumayyan, head of the Public Investment Fund, as chairman of the oil company.

News that the Kingdom was to be included this year in the MSCI index meant that many global institutions rushed to buy Saudi stocks, leading to an inflow of $18 billion to the Kingdom and a big jump in Tadawul, up as much as 19 percent earlier this year.

But the pace of foreign investment has fallen since investing institutions satisfied their requirements in Saudi markets, and the percentage increase for the year is now in low single digits. On Tuesday, the TASI index closed at 7,924 points, compared to 7,798 at the start of the year.

FASTFACT

$18bn

The Tadawul has attracted an inflow of $18 billion in foreign funds this year.

Tarek Fadlallah, CEO of Nomura Asset Management in the Middle East, said: “While Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the global indices is positive, it provides no guarantees about the market’s performance in the future, and leaves it vulnerable to shifts in foreign investor sentiment.” Al-Hussan is determined to maintain the attraction of Tadawul for new foreign investors. “We started, with the beginning of our communication with international investors two years ago, to be visible and educate international investors about the market and what’s coming, and how do we handle their investments from a practice perspective.”

He added: “We gained the confidence of international investors through this, and through the MSCI inclusion. We continue that dialogue, both ourselves and Saudi corporates, in front of international investors through different channels, to educate them about changes and practices.”

Al-Hussan said: “We need to continue to enhance our offering activity, whether these are products or services we need to introduce and compete with other markets, as well as more companies. Certain investors invest in different sectors, so we continue to understand these types of investors and bring more diversified offerings to the market.”

Among these offerings will be new IPOs. “If you look at the IPOs that have come to the market this past year, I believe that their success was mainly focused on introducing new sectors. Our role is to continue that dialogue by opening more sectors to the market,” he said, hinting at new offerings by educational and service companies.

Both Tadawul and its regulator, the Capital Markets Authority, are studying applications from new issuers. “The readiness of an application differs from one issuer to another. Some are in advanced stages, some will need more time. But that gives us a good comfort level about the health of the pipeline,” Al-Hussan said, adding that he is happy with the level of retail investor involvement in the market. Some analysts have pointed to a decline in trading activity by non-institutional investors. “If you look at regional markets or EM liquidity over the last two years, we’ve seen strong pressure on liquidity in these markets. If you compare this liquidity in the Saudi market — we announce this liquidity every Sunday — I believe that we’re still at a good level,” he said, citing a daily average of $1 billion worth of shares traded.

“But of course we’ll continue to offer more products, more regulatory frameworks to continue to gauge that interest by retail investors, which is an important and positive element of our market liquidity.”


Russia vows cooperation with OPEC to keep oil market balanced

Updated 21 November 2019

Russia vows cooperation with OPEC to keep oil market balanced

  • Moscow not aiming to be world’s No.1 crude producer, Putin tells annual investment forum

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have “a common goal” of keeping the oil market balanced and predictable, and Moscow will continue cooperation under the global supply curbs deal.

OPEC meets on Dec. 5 in Vienna, followed by talks with a group of other exporters, including Russia, known as OPEC+.

“Our (common with OPEC) goal is for the market to be balanced, acceptable for producers and consumers and the most important — and I want to underline this — predictable,” Putin told a forum on Wednesday.

In October, Russia cut its oil output to 11.23 million barrels per day (bpd) from 11.25 million bpd in September but it was still higher than a 11.17-11.18 million bpd cap set for Moscow under the existing global deal. Putin told the forum that Russia’s oil production was growing slightly despite the supply curbs deal but Moscow was not aiming to be the world’s No. 1 crude producer. Currently, the US is the world’s top oil producer.

“Russia has a serious impact on the global energy market but the most impact we achieve (is) when working along with other key producers,” he said. “There was a moment not that long ago when Russia was the world’s top oil producer — this is not our goal.”

Russia plans to produce between 556 million and 560 million tons of oil this year (11.17-11.25 million bpd), Energy Minister Alexander Novak said separately on Wednesday, depending on the volume of gas condensate produced during cold months.

Russia will aim to stick to its commitments under the deal in November, Novak told reporters.

Russia includes gas condensate — a side product also known as a “light oil” produced when companies extract natural gas — into its overall oil production statistics, which some other oil producing countries do not do.

As Russia is gradually increasing liquefied natural gas production (LNG), the share of gas condensate it is producing is also growing. Gas condensate now accounts for around 6 percent of Russian oil production.

Novak told reporters that in winter, Russia traditionally produces more gas condensate as it is launching new gas fields in the freezing temperatures.

“We believe that gas condensate should not be taken into account (of overall oil production statistics), as this is an absolutely different area related to gas production and gas supplies,” he said.

Three sources told Reuters on Tuesday that Russia is unlikely to agree to deepen cuts in oil output at a meeting with fellow exporters next month, but could commit to extend existing curbs to support Saudi Arabia.

On Wednesday, Novak declined to say that Russia’s position would be at upcoming OPEC+ meeting. Reuters uses a conversion rate of 7.33 barrels per ton of oil.