Best Managed Companies in the Middle East 2014: Saudi markets get chance to shine?

The opening up of the Saudi Stock Exchange to foreign investors could be a watershed moment for the country’s capital markets. Bankers predict a rush of deals to soak up demand. But what will foreign investors find in the Middle East’s biggest market? And can structural issues over settlement be solved?

Saudi Arabian institutions dominate Euromoney’s best managed companies in the Middle East survey this year. Jeddah’s NCB Capital is the best research house, and monopolizes individual categories; Tadawul, the Saudi Stock Exchange, is the best exchange; Al Marai has the best treasury; and seven of our sector winners are listed in the country.

Perhaps this should not be a surprise, because Saudi Arabian investment – today and, in particular, for the future – is the subject on everyone’s lips in the region.

Early next year, selected foreign investors will be able to invest directly for the first time into a newly opened Saudi Arabian stock market. It’s a big moment. At the time of writing, the market capitalization of Tadawul, the Saudi Stock Exchange (tellingly, its executives now prefer the latter, more international-sounding description), stood at $590 billion, bigger than Malaysia, Mexico or Moscow.

Further reading 

The Saudi Stock Exchange already constitutes half the Gulf’s total capitalization, dwarfs any neighbour, and accounts for 45% of the entire Mena region. After several years of a cumbersome middle ground, through which foreigners have had to use a form of total return swap to gain their exposure or go through a local exchange-traded fund or mutual fund, foreigners will finally be able to buy directly into the one market that matters in the Middle East: the biggest, the most liquid, the most diversified.