Saudi's Tadawul: a better prospect than Micex for foreign investors?

Sarah Spickernell
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The Tawadul is set to open to foreign investors next year (Source: Getty)
They are both emerging market, oil-rich equity markets, but while Russia's Micex index has been open to foreign investors for a number of years, Saudi's Tadawul index will be opening up for the first time in 2015.
The Tadawul is the Middle East's biggest equities market, and foreign investors have been eagerly awaiting the news that it is opening. Until now it has always been the prerogative of domestic investors.
The market capitalisation of the Tadawul has reached the same level as the Micex which, five years ago, was a popular foreign investment point, according to the FT.
Since then, however, Micex investors have made a gain of 60 per cent. This is not as much as they might have gained elsewhere, and it pales in comparison to the doubling in value of the S&P 500 during the same period. Now, European and US sanctions are causing the Micex to become increasingly volatile and the Kremlin's attitude towards foreigners owning stakes in its companies is shifting.
Despite the presence of Gazprom, which last year reported a net profit almost as large as Apple's, the Micex free float's market capitalisation stands at $228bn. Saudi's Tadawul has reached the same level even though it has not been open to the international equity market, and prospects for the West's relations with the Saudi monarchy are looking more promising than for its relations with the Kremlin.
If the Tadawul had been open for the last five years, it would have generated a return of 93 per cent for investors, which exceeds the 60 per cent achieved through the Micex.
Investors' positive reaction to Tadawul's opening has already been reflected in the all-time high reached by the index yesterday following the news. It rose by 2.82 per cent to 10,025.1: the first time it has surpassed the 10,000 mark.

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