Kuwait Allows Foreign Investors Larger Shares in Local Banks

Sunday, 16 December, 2018 - 10:30
Kuwait – Merza al-Khuwaldi

Kuwait announced that it was allowing foreign investors to own a bigger stake of its local banks.

A press statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Saturday said investors will be required to gain approval from the Central Bank of Kuwait if the shares they want to buy represent more than 5 percent of a bank’s total capital.

The approval of the Central Bank of Kuwait should be obtained if ownership exceeds 5 percent of the bank’s capital, the ministry said.

The latest move comes in accordance with Decree 694, which notes that non-Kuwaiti investors shall be allowed to own and trade in Kuwaiti banks’ shares, KUNA reported.

The ministry said that the Capital Markets Authority received several enquiries from many international investors regarding loosening up rules for investing in the Kuwaiti market.

Investors spoke about the “existence of obstacles or restrictions” imposed on them, possibly referring to the maximum percentage of non-Kuwaiti investors’ ownership in a single bank, which is supposed to not exceed 49 percent of the bank’s total capital, the report added.

The decision aims to cultivate a positive investment environment for non-Kuwaitis on the Kuwait Stock Exchange and in line with the state’s vision on creating an attractive environment for foreign investments.

More so, the move aims to help attract foreign investors to the country’s large and influential banking sector set with a capital market value of KD11.11 billion (about $39 billion).

Previously, acquisition was limited to 49 percent of the bank's capital without obtaining the prior approval of the Council of Ministers which consults with the Central Bank of Kuwait.

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