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Oman to allow foreign ownership in listed companies

The Omani national flag waving in the wind in the capital Muscat on 18 September 2020 [HAITHAM AL-SHUKAIRI/AFP/Getty Images]
The Omani national flag in the capital Muscat on 18 September 2020 [HAITHAM AL-SHUKAIRI/AFP/Getty Images]

Oman is to lift restrictions on foreign ownership in companies listed on the stock exchange in a bid to boost investment from overseas.

According to a tweet, yesterday, by the Muscat Stock Exchange (MSX), the move will make the bourse "more attractive to international investors" and provide them with a more flexible environment for their investments.

Earlier this month, the chief executive of the MSX, Haitham Al-Salmi, told CNBC Arabia that "We are working to fulfil all the requirements for listing the Muscat Stock Exchange in emerging market indices". The Sultanate plans to list 35 state-owned companies over the next five years, Al-Salmi added.

"The move has increased the percentage of investments available to foreigners by 78 per cent," he explained.

Earlier this month, in line with Oman's ambition to move away from an oil dependent economy, Sultan Haitham bin Tarik issued a royal decree to expand free zones in the country in order to attract foreign investment. There are free zones currently in Muscat, Salalah, Sohar and Duqm and the recent decree will see the establishment of free zones in three airports.

"The free zones will bring in huge economic benefits to the country," said Peter Hays, a former senior banker at Citigroup.

"Oman has some experience in economic zones and the Royal Decree will give more confidence to big players around the world to set up manufacturing units there, knowing that they will enjoy huge benefits," he added.

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