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Best Middle East Research House Survey 2014: Euromoney research rankings highlight challenge facing foreign banks in Middle East equity markets

Local brokerages dominate the 2014 Euromoney Middle East Research rankings. With international interest in the region’s stock markets set to reach new heights, the big global investment banks have a lot of catching up to do. They can start by renewing their commitment to research in the region.

This year’s Best Middle East Research House Survey is dominated by two institutions. They are bonded not so much by what they have in common, as what they are not: neither is an international research house.

Saudi Arabia’s NCB Capital and Egypt’s EFG Hermes monopolize Euromoney’s survey, taking all 14 categories between them. Although it is interesting to look at why that might be the case, it is equally intriguing to consider if international banks and brokerages are showing a remarkable lack of foresight in having failed to build research arms that generate similar levels of local enthusiasm.

Change is coming to the Saudi stock markets at a pace that has taken long-jaded observers completely by surprise. Suddenly, after decades of exclusion, opacity and difficulty, the biggest capital market in the region by far is about to open its doors to international investment. The Saudi market’s opening ought to be a big opportunity for banks with established teams of top Saudi (and broader Middle East) analysts.

Even with a ceiling of 10% of the country’s market capitalization being open to foreign investors, that allows for $55 billion of foreign investment inflows into Saudi Arabian equities – something that, once Saudi finds its way into key MSCI and other indices a few years from now, is likely to be taken up fairly quickly.

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