Saudi market regulator loosens asset management rules

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Saudi Arabia’s markets regulator loosened its rules for licensing asset management and other investment firms on Sunday, according to a presentation by senior officials at the Capital Market Authority (CMA).

The revisions will reduce requirements for obtaining a “management activity” license, aiming to boost the number of asset managers in the kingdom and increase private equity and venture capital investments, the officials said.

Minimum net assets required to be considered an “investment company” were reduced to 10 million riyals ($3 million) from 50 million riyals ($13 million), according to a statement handed out during the presentation.

The requirement for “management activities” was reduced to 20 million riyals from 50 million riyals, and two new types of activities permitted: managing non-real estate investment funds and managing the portfolios of small but experienced investors.

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Work experience and certification requirements to be considered a “specialized investor” approved to invest in private equity funds and private placements were also broadened.

The CMA has been revising rules to open access to markets for local entities and foreign institutional investors as part of Vision 2030, an ambitious reform plan to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil.

It is planning new listing rules to be announced this fall alongside new M&A rules, with an emphasis on driving debt issuance.

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