Morgan Stanley says in first Saudi swap agreement

RIYADH Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:23pm EDT

The exterior of the world headquarters for Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated is seen in New York, May 19, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The exterior of the world headquarters for Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated is seen in New York, May 19, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley (MS.N) said on Monday its Saudi unit has signed the kingdom's first swap agreement, a vehicle that allows foreigners to buy into listed stocks through intermediaries.

"Interest from international investors ... is very high, and we expect to see a lot more interest in these swap transactions from investors around the world," Craig Niven, a managing director at Morgan Stanley, said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia decided last week to allow foreigners to buy shares listed on its stock market, the Arab world's largest, through licensed intermediaries, a major step toward opening the largest Arab bourse to foreign capital.

"Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia (MSSA) has become the first investment bank to enter into a Swap Agreement with a non- resident foreign investor for a single stock," The investment bank said in the statement.

It did not give details about the investor or the stock they were seeking.

Under the new system, potential foreign investors would be entitled to returns related to their share purchases and must take on all of the economic exposure.

(Writing by Inal Ersan; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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