Saudi stock market to hire investment bank for flotation

DUBAI, April 17 (Reuters) - The Saudi Stock Exchange is in the process of hiring an investment bank to advise on its flotation, the bourse, known as Tadawul, said on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia is expected to privatise and float a number of state-owned assets in the next few years, part of efforts to raise cash to help bridge a budget shortfall caused by lower oil prices. The aim is also to improve the efficiency of the economy by the reform of state companies and by bringing in professional investors.

Among them is Tadawul, which said in December it planned to list its shares in 2018.

Sources told Reuters last month that the stock exchange had invited investment banks in early March to submit bids to advise on its planned initial public offering.

In a statement on Sunday, in response to Reuters’ questions, Tadawul said it was in the process of appointing an investment bank and would make an announcement as soon as a selection was made.

The stock market is the largest exchange in the Middle East with a total market capitalisation of 1.48 trillion riyals ($394.6 billion), according to Thomson Reuters data.

It also said it had hired a consultant to assess the firm’s readiness for the planned public share sale but declined to name the firm it had appointed. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh, editing by David French and Jane Merriman)