MSCI details weights of Arab markets in indexes

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Qatar’s stock market will have a 0.45 percent weight in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index and the United Arab Emirates, 0.4 percent, an official of index compiler Morgan Stanley Capital International said on Wednesday.

Remy Briand, managing director and global head of index research at MSCI, was speaking on a conference call after MSCI said earlier that it was upgrading Qatar and the UAE to emerging market from frontier market status, effective next May.

Greece, which was downgraded to emerging market status, will have a weighting of 0.3 percent, he said.

“The threshold will be lower for the EM index so it is likely a number of (Greek) companies will enter the EM index. It will become a broader, more representative index.

“By developed market standards, only two Greek companies qualify for the MSCI index so there should be a broader list for inclusion into the index.”

Morocco is being downgraded to frontier market status, and Briand said it would have a 6.7 percent weight in that index.

“The investment pool in frontier markets is smaller than in EM so in terms of representation, it will be much better in the frontier index,” he said of Morocco.

“The number of companies will be larger and liquidity requirements will be lower. So it should be more representative of the Moroccan index.”

While the UAE’s upgrade had been expected by many analysts, Qatar had been seen as less likely because of its limits on foreign ownership and relatively small free floats of shares.

However, Briand noted there was a program by Qatari authorities to increase foreign ownership limits.

“It started with a number of companies requesting the change and while this program is not complete, there is a clear commitment to increase this level and a number of companies have initiated the process,” he said.

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