Saudi Bourse Reforms Small-Cap Market Before Index Promotion

(Bloomberg) -- The Saudi stock exchange is making changes to its platform for trading in small- and medium-size companies, just before the country’s inclusion in major emerging-market benchmarks.

The Tadawul, as the bourse is known, aims to increase the number of listed companies in the segment and improve liquidity in trading, according to a statement on Wednesday. The changes include allowing companies to list without an initial public offering and by reducing trade thresholds.

Changes to Nomu, as the platform started in 2017 is known, are among reforms adopted by the $530 billion bourse to better align itself with international markets and open up to foreign investors. Last year, FTSE Russell and MSCI Inc. announced the inclusion of the kingdom in their emerging-market benchmarks, with the upgrade happening over several tranches, starting next month. Investors and analysts expect billions of dollars in inflows as a result.

The Tadawul expects “more participation by foreign investors in Nomu,” along with the growth in main market this year, Chief Executive Officer Khalid Abdullah Al Hussan said at a press conference in Riyadh on Thursday. He said the changes to Nomu will also help companies from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to access the Saudi market.

The changes to Nomu are expected in the first and second quarter. They include:

  • Requirements for issuers to report financial earnings on a six-month basis instead of quarterly based reporting
  • Developing a process for issuers to transition from the parallel market to the main market
  • Increasing investor access by applying a minimum liquidity threshold, reducing trade thresholds and introducing the Nomu Capped Index
  • Allowing closed-ended funds and real-estate investment trusts (REITs) to list on Nomu
  • Introducing volatility guards and independent research

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