09.07.2017

Goldman Gets Approval for Saudi Equities Trading

Goldman Sachs is expanding its equities trading franchise into the Middle East – namely the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

According to local news reports, the white glove bulge bracket broker received approval to trade equities in Saudi Arabia, joining the growing band of western investment banks and fund managers expanding in the kingdom. Reuters reported that the firm applied to the local regulator, the Saudi Capital Market Authority, back in June for a license to trade equites.

In a statement, the regulator said it had approved a request by Goldman Sachs to amend its business in the kingdom and that the bank was now authorized for principal dealing, fund and portfolio management and advisory and custody activities.

A source familiar with the matter confirmed that the license was for the approval of equities trading.

Western financial institutions have been looking to tap new opportunities in Saudi Arabia since the government unveiled plans for oil giant Saudi Aramco’s $100 billion initial public offering (see related article here) and introduced reforms to attract foreign capital as part of moves to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil.

In an attempt to secure a role on Aramco’s IPO, Goldman bought a portion of the oil company’s $10 billion credit facility, Reuters reported, citing sources.

The broker is no stranger to Saudi Arabia, working since 2009 as an agent and underwriter.

Also, Citigroup obtained a Saudi investment banking license in April, which will allow it to return to the kingdom after more than 13 years, while Credit Suisse is reportedly seeking a Saudi license to build a fully-fledged onshore private banking business.

It is the second time in three years Goldman has changed its services in Saudi Arabia. In 2014 the CMA authorized it to arrange, advise and manage investment funds and portfolios, according to its website.

International firms such as BlackRock (BLK.N), Citigroup, HSBC (HSBA.L) and Ashmore Group have since been among those to join the list of institutional investors that can directly trade the market.

 

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