Qatar emir issues law raising foreign ownership limits for stocks

DUBAI Wed Aug 6, 2014 3:34am EDT

DUBAI Aug 6 (Reuters) - Qatar's emir has issued a law providing for foreign investors to own up to 49 percent of listed Qatari companies, part of reforms to expand the stock market and develop the country's financial industry, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) said.

The law, originally announced in late May, also allows foreigners to own more than 49 percent of a company in special cases if they obtain approval from the Qatari cabinet.

In another market-opening step, citizens of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council will be treated as Qatari citizens for the purpose of owning companies listed on the Qatar Exchange, QNA said.

Currently, listed Qatari companies impose ceilings on foreign ownership that are usually limited to 25 percent, though some have raised their ceilings above that level.

It was not immediately clear from the QNA report whether all Qatari companies would now be obliged to raise their ownership ceilings to 49 percent, or how much time they would have to do so.

QNA said companies would need the approval of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce for increases to their foreign ownership ceilings in their articles of association. This may mean the ministry could specify ceiling lower than 49 percent in some cases. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Praveen Menon)

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