BlackRock’s (NYSE: BLK) iShares unit, the world’s largest issuer of exchange traded funds, could introduce a Saudi Araba in advance of that country opening its equity markets to foreign investors.
The proposed iShares MSCI Saudi Arabia Capped ETF would track the results of an MSCI provisional Saudi Arabia index, reports Arif Sharif for Bloomberg. There are no Saudi Arabia ETFs currently trading in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Saudi authorities granted permission to foreign financial institutions to trade equities in the Tadawul market, but it will be mid-2015 before the largest OPEC producer and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is officially open to foreign investors. [What Saudi Arabia’s Market Liberalization Means for ETFs]
Taudi equity market is three and a half times larger than those of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, of which there are three country-specific ETFs: The new iShares MSCI UAE Capped ETF (NasdaqGM: UAE), the iShares MSCI Israel Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EIS) and the Market Vectors Israel ETF (NYSEArca: ISRA).
iShares also offers the iShares MSCI Qatar Capped ETF (NasdaqGM: QAT). QAT and UAE debuted near the time that those countries were being promoted to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index from frontier market status. QAT and UAE have nearly $87 million in combined assets under management. Those markets became the first in the Middle East to earn a promotion from MSCI to emerging markets status from the frontier classification
MSCI currently does not classify Saudi Arabia as an emerging or frontier market, however it is a member of the MSCI GCC Countries Index, according to MSCI.