Morgan Stanley CEO says Saudi Arabia could be 'major opportunity'

Morgan Stanley Chairman and Chief Executive James Gorman speaks during the Institute of International Finance Annual Meeting in Washington October 10, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

(Reuters) - Morgan Stanley MS.N CEO James Gorman said Saudi Arabia could be a "major opportunity" for the firm as the country unveiled plans for oil giant Saudi Aramco's $100 billion initial public offering and introduced a series of reforms to attract foreign capital in 2015.

Gorman, speaking at the bank’s financials conference in New York, said he has personally been spending a significant amount of time in Saudi Arabia, as has President Colm Kelleher.

In May, several U.S.-based bank CEOs including Gorman, JPMorgan Chase & Co's JPM.N Jamie Dimon and Citigroup Inc's C.N Michael Corbat attended a business forum in Saudi Arabia.

Morgan Stanley already has a presence in Saudi Arabia, having set up an office in the region in 2007.

Other banks are scrambling to expand into the country.

Citi received a license from Saudi Arabia's regulator in April for investment banking and capital markets services, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N has applied for a license to trade equities in the kingdom.

The opening of Saudi Arabia is part of a reform agenda to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil by 2030.

The Saudi stock exchange opened itself to direct investment from foreign entities in mid-2015 and last year loosened restrictions on foreign ownership in its stock market.

Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman