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Citigroup Gets Consent to Trade Saudi Arabian Equities

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After over a decade, Citigroup Inc.C seems to be making efforts to regain its presence in Saudi Arabia. The New York based-banking giant has won approval from the Saudi Arabian regulator - The Capital Market Authority (CMA) - for directly investing in the local stock market, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) - the Arab world's largest stock market - opened to direct foreign investment for the first time in June this year as part of the kingdom's efforts to boost the economy and reduce dependency on oil revenues. The move is intended to attract foreign investment, diversify the economy and create jobs.

Notably, Citigroup has received the Qualified Foreign Investment license from the CMA. The company, which operated for nearly 50 years in Saudi Arabia, ended its presence in the kingdom with the sale of its 20% stake in Riyadh-based Samba Financial Group in 2004, citing that it was reallocating capital to core investments.

However, Citigroup's latest move is contradictory to its ongoing efforts to exit from some global markets. Nevertheless, it certainly reflects the company's will to capitalize on potential opportunities that the kingdom might offer to foreign banks.

Other companies that have obtained license to trade Saudi Arabian equities include HSBC Holdings plc HSBC and Ashmore Group, an investment manager focused on emerging markets.

Citigroup currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A couple of better-ranked stocks in the major banks space include Wells Fargo & Company WFC and SunTrust Banks, Inc. STI .

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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