By Marwa Rashad
RIYADH, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) expects additional passive funds' inflows worth $3 billion from the remaining phases of inclusion in the FTSE Russell emerging market index starting in September, its chairwoman said.
The Middle East's largest bourse is also expected to launch the first exchange-traded derivative product - an index futures contract based on the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index - in the fourth quarter of 2019, Sarah al-Suhaimi told Reuters.
The kingdom opened its stock market to foreign investors in 2015. It has since introduced a raft of reforms to make it attractive to foreign investors and issuers and to expand its institutional investor base, as part of an ambitious plan to diversify the economy away from hydrocarbons.
The Saudi inclusion in emerging markets indices has generated foreign inflows worth billions of dollars since the start of the year, and is expected to facilitate Riyadh's plans to sell about 5 percent of its oil giant Aramco in an IPO and reinvest the proceeds in new industries.
Inflows of foreign funds will help absorb the huge IPO, especially with an increasing likelihood of a domestic listing on the Riyadh bourse followed by a later international offering.
In August, the Saudi exchange completed the second and final phase of joining the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, raising its weight on the closely-monitored index to 2.8 percent.
"Since the beginning of this year, foreign investors have traded more than $65 billion and have been net buyers of more than $20 billion of Tadawul-listed shares through August 29," Suhaimi said in an emailed response to Reuters inquiries.
Suhaimi said the number of qualified foreign investors (QFIs) has "grown exponentially" by 200% year-to-date, reaching more than 1,300 and is set to grow further by the end of 2019.
"The additional passive inflows from the remaining tranches of FTSE inclusion is expected to be around $3 billion," she said.
"Tadawul is in the final implementation phase of establishing a Derivatives Market and is actively working on market readiness from a technology, trading and business perspective. We expect to launch the first exchange-traded derivative product – an index futures contract based on the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index - in the fourth quarter of 2019."
She said the Saudi market will continue to be of interest to international investors despite heightened volatility in global markets due to trade conflicts and political concerns.
"Foreign investors ownership percentage is now at 8.3%, that is 76% growth year-to-date. Additionally, Saudi market performance year-to-date has been positive at 4.8% growth while FTSE EM only grew by 1.76% and MSCI EM declined by -0.15% for the same period," she said.
(Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
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