DUBAI, April 2 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince
Alwaleed bin Talal called on the kingdom's regulators to open up
the stock market to foreigners and reduce its reliance on retail
In a televised interview aired on 23 channels, the prince,
who owns stakes in some of the world's top companies, said Saudi
Arabia needed to upgrade its equity markets to international
standards while protecting its blue-chip companies from hot
"The Saudi market needs to rely less on individual
investors. Saudi Arabia is 90-95 percent dominated by individual
investors and 5 percent by institutions, opposite to what is
there in America and Europe," bin Talal said.
"Yes there is concern about the hot money, but we can
control foreign investors by, for example, introducing shares
Class A or B and give access to 20 percent or 30 percent of the
shares of each company," the prince said.
He added that Saudi Arabia had the right to protect
strategic companies like Saudi Basic Industries Corporation
(Sabic) from hot foreign money.
Foreigner investors can only buy Saudi shares through swap
deals made by international investment banks, and via a small
number of exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Abdulrahman al-Tuwaijri, chairman of the Capital Market
Authority (CMA), had said last year that the kingdom was
planning to open up the market to foreign investors but that it
should be done in an orderly and gradual manner to make sure it
did not threaten market stability.
The CMA is considering allowing qualified foreign investors
to take a capped share in each Saudi company, with international
buyers able to own a total of around 20 percent of the market's
value, according to proposals circulated to the financial
industry last year.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark has risen 5.5 percent so
far in 2013, and the economy is forecast to grow 4 percent this
year, according to a Reuters poll in January.
(Reporting By Mirna Sleiman; Editing by Will Waterman)