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Invesco launches ETF with exposure to Saudi Arabia

Invesco launches ETF with exposure to Saudi Arabia

Invesco has launched the first ETF in Europe that provides pure passive exposure to Saudi Arabia.

The Invesco MSCI Saudi Arabia Ucits ETF is available in US dollars on the London Stock Exchange to offer investors access to the largest economy in the Middle East.

The ETF has an ongoing charge of 0.50 per cent and the minimum investment is one share, which is currently trading at US$ 20.29 (£15.30) per share.

Chris Mellor, head of EMEA ETF equity and commodity product management at Invesco, said: "Saudi Arabia is in the early stages of an exciting transformation.

"The reforms within the ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ programme that is intended to reduce the economy’s dependency on government funding and oil exports.

"They have a number of objectives, including increasing the contribution of private sector consumption to GDP, the number of Saudis working in the private sector and the use of solar and other renewable energy sources.

"They also want to encourage major domestic companies to expand across borders and into global markets."

The Invesco MSCI Saudi Arabia Ucits ETF tracks the performance of the MSCI Saudi Arabia 20/35 index, which has constraints to ensure it meets Ucits requirements for diversification and avoids overconcentration in certain parts of the economy.

The index comprises 22 large and mid-cap stocks, accounting for approximately 85 per cent of the free float market capitalisation in Saudi Arabia.

Another objective is to attract foreign direct investment and the programme is going to be partly funded by a 5 per cent sale of state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco.

The initial public offering (IPO) is likely to be in 2019 and could raise up to $100bn (£75.43bn), making it by far the largest IPO in history.

Saudi Arabia began opening its equity markets to foreign investors in 2015, and has since eased foreign investor requirements and brought trade settlement more in line with global standards.

As a result, MSCI has included Saudi Arabia in its annual review process, with an announcement due on 20 June 2018 as to whether they will raise it to Emerging Market status.

If successful, Saudi Arabia would be included in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index from 2019 with an estimated weighting of around 2.3 per cent , although this would be significantly higher once you factor in Aramco and other IPOs. 

Keith Churchouse, chartered financial planner at Guildford-based advisers Chapters Financial, said: "The ability for investors to access investment diversification has grown significantly in recent years and this imports opportunity, but of course investment risk.

"I believe this is a good thing to help in meeting clients' attitude and aptitude for investment risk. It is good to see Invesco bringing this Middle East opportunity to Europe. Charges are low/fair, as is the initial hurdle for investment, taking into account that this would be a higher risk investment.

"Investors need to think carefully about whether they are happy to import this investment risk into their holdings, and if they are, it may be unlikely that the investment would be significant as a percentage of overall UK holdings.