Oman lifts limits on foreign ownership in listed companies

Move is expected to make exchange more attractive to international investors

Muscat Stock Exchange. Courtesy Investcorp

Oman's stock exchange plans to lift limits on foreign ownership in listed companies to further increase investments and improve the bourse's liquidity.

The move will make the exchange more attractive to international investors and provide a flexible environment for them, the Muscat Stock Exchange (MSX) said in a tweet on Monday.

The sultanate's decision comes as it seeks inclusion within global emerging market indices.

“We are working to fulfil all the requirements for listing the Muscat Stock Exchange in emerging market indices,” Haitham Al Salmi, chief executive of the MSX, told CNBC Arabia this month.

The decision to raise the percentage of foreign investment in public companies is one of the most important steps on the path to being included in global emerging market indices, he said.

Foreign trading currently accounts for 14.5 per cent of total trading on the MSX.

Oman plans to list 35 state-owned companies over the next five years with initial public offerings planned for one or two oil companies this year, Mr Al Salmi said. The listings are expected to take place in the second half of 2022.

Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reported a series of listings in the last year, driven by stake sales in state-owned energy assets and other high performing entities as the countries seek to diversify their economies.

Saudi companies raised almost $9.3 billion from share offerings last year, making the kingdom one of the most active IPO markets in the Middle East and Africa, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, the Arab world's second-largest stock market, also recorded a surge in liquidity and foreign investment in 2021, driven by new listings.

Nine companies listed on the main exchange last year, including Adnoc Drilling, which raised $1.1bn in October, as well as Fertiglobe, the world’s largest seaborne exporter of urea and ammonia combined, which reaped about $795 million.

ADX could host 13 more listings before the end of this year as it seeks to reach a market value of Dh3 trillion ($816.7bn), Mohammed Al Shorafa, chairman of ADX, told Sky News Arabia on Monday.

Updated: March 28, 2022, 4:04 PM