Saudi stockmarket Tadawul looking to go public "soon"

Reuters Middle East

(Adds further quotes from CEO, details)

RIYADH, May 7 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Tadawul stock market is looking to go public soon with an initial public share offer of its own, its chief executve said on Wednesday.

"Yes we are going to go public," Adel al-Ghamdi said at a financial conference in the capital Riyadh. "That's our aspiration. We will be applying for it extremely soon and we will be looking to hire a financial adviser soon."

"We need to ensure that we have all the pieces in place that position us for that," he added.

The kingdom's stock market, by far the largest in the Gulf Arab region, saw five initial public offers of shares in 2013 worth around $506 million, down in both volume and value from the previous year despite a 25.5 percent rise in the main market index.

But it's expected to be much more active this year, partly because of the finance ministry's plan for an IPO by Saudi Arabia's largest lender, National Commercial Bank

"There are 35 family businesses exploring IPOs with financial advisers," al-Ghamdi said.

"I would like to see more diversity in the market, would like to see more healthcare companies, and I think a few are in the pipeline with financial advisers."

Saudi Arabia does not allow direct foreign investment in its stock market and any share sale will only be open to local investors. However, the Saudi market is very liquid and demand is expected to be high. (Reporting by Mirna Sleiman and Marwa Rashad, Editing by William Maclean and Greg Mahlich)

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