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UPDATE 1-Saudi bourse could go public within two years, says CEO

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RIYADH, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s bourse, Tadawul, will announce plans to go public this year, its chief executive said on Thursday.

A timeline for an initial public offering (IPO) will be provided this year, Tadawul CEO Khalid Alhussan told Reuters on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative conference, adding that the listing could take place within a two-year time frame.

Tadawul hired HSBC in 2016 to manage an IPO initially planned for 2018 but put on hold due to oil giant Saudi Aramco’s record $29.4 billion listing at the end of 2019.

“Our commitment for listing continues the same. What we have delayed is just the time because Vision 2030 came in place, transformational commitment came into place,” Alhussan said, referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to diversify the economy and wean it off crude revenues.

He said he anticipated that the total number of IPOs this year may exceed last year’s 22, and would be across the main index and other platforms, adding that it would give a strong indication of Saudi corporates’ views about listing.

Alhussan said 2020 was a good test for the Saudi market when, despite COVID-19, liquidity tripled, there was a 26% increase in the number of qualified foreign investors opening portfolios, and more than 100,000 local investors joined the stock market. (Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by David Goodman, Kirsten Donovan)

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